Michelin restaurants may be the height of fine dining, but that doesn’t mean they’re out of reach. If you’re passionate about exceptional food, consider visiting a Michelin-starred restaurant as an investment in the good life – and a serious addition to your bucket list. With a little research and an appetite for adventure, you might even find a Michelin restaurant near you that suits your fancy.
What is Michelin Guide?
It all started in the late 1800s when the Michelin brothers, Édouard and André, were setting up their tire business in France. To promote car ownership, then in its infancy, he began by creating the Michelin Man and one of the most iconic figures of brand marketing to date.
Following this, the brothers launched the Michelin Guide, first published in 1900. The guide was designed to encourage the approximately 3,000 motorists on French roads to get out and travel. It included maps, mechanics listings, and useful information about roadside amenities, including (you guessed it) places to eat.
By the 1920s, the restaurant portion of the guide was separated independently and the star-rating system was born. The rest is gastronomic history.
How does the system of Michelin rated restaurants work?
Every year, the Michelin Guide publishes its list of establishments that meet the criteria for one, two or three stars. Stars are awarded on the quality of the food served, from mastery of taste to consistency of food between visits.
The award of three stars by the Michelin reviewers team reflects the “extraordinary cuisine” and the presence of an establishment that is “worth a special visit”. Very few fine dining establishments in the world receive the full three stars. At the latest count, there were more than 130 three-star restaurants globally.
Michelin stars are so coveted that celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey reportedly cried when his New York restaurant The London lost both of its stars in the 2014 edition of the guide.
How many Michelin-starred restaurants are there in the United States?
There are currently fewer than 200 Michelin-starred restaurants in the United States, making each star incredibly difficult to earn. Michelin currently only rates restaurants in the states of New York, Illinois, and California, as well as the recent addition of Washington, D.C. While you may find Miami or Boston offering great food, you’ve still got stars to prove. Can’t get it.
What are Michelin’s Fork and Spoon ratings?
While Michelin stars correspond to the food itself, Michelin’s Fork and Spoon rating recognizes the quality of the overall experience, from restaurant decor to table service. A Fork & Spoon award recognizes the establishment as “fairly cosy”, while Five Cover’s top award meets the criteria for “luxurious in traditional style”.
What is Michelin’s Bib Gourmand designation?
Established in 1955, the Bib Gourmand Award, represented by an icon of the Michelin Man (aka the Bib) licking his lips, symbolizes a restaurant that offers high-quality cooking at a reasonable price. To be eligible for this accreditation, restaurants must offer menu options for less than a certain price point.
Additional Ideas for Michelin Restaurants
Now that we’ve explored a selection of Michelin-starred restaurants across the United States, here are a few more things to keep in mind as you plan your trip:
- book early: The most acclaimed restaurants often require reservations several months in advance. Check the policy for your chosen establishment and join the list. Don’t want to wait? Ask about fine dining takeout options and experience the world of Michelin-starred dining at home.
- Inquire about payment policies: Many top restaurants require you to pay some or all of your booking in advance. If you can’t make your reservation, you could lose your money. Remember to keep your payment method handy when booking.
- Explain any food allergies or dietary restrictions: Ask the restaurant if they are able to cater to your requirement. Don’t be surprised if they say no.
- For special events and tasting sessions, visit: Find out what’s on offer and take your culinary skills up a notch.
- To reduce any surcharges that may apply to your trip: When it comes to managing your money, you want to be prepared.
- Ask about the dress code: Beach shorts and flip-flops probably won’t cut it. Unless, of course, you’re eating right from home.
Remember that menus and fine dining services change frequently, so keep an eye on the establishment’s website, or call ahead for updated information.
Experiencing a Michelin restaurant can be an extraordinary pleasure. With a little planning and the willingness to invest, don’t be surprised if your Michelin-rated dining experience leaves you hungry for more.