The Michelin Star rating has no wonder become the yardstick of quality food and best dining experience. Thanks to the fame and prestige it brings to every restaurant that gets awarded with 1 star, 2 stars or the most coveted, 3 star-rating.

San Francisco as a cosmopolitan city is a hotbed of culinary talent. Therefore, its wealth of Michelin-starred restaurants comes as no surprise.

But how do restaurants get a Michelin star and when did it start?  Let’s dig deeper into the history of Michelin ratings before we dig into the scrumptious meals we prepared for you based on the sumptuous list we gathered.

Believe it or not, the Michelin rating started at the turn of the 20th century and coincided with an invention that had little to do with cuisine.  How mind blowing is it when I tell you that it coincided with the invention of automobiles.  Yes you read it right, cars!


History of the Michelin Guide

The first Michelin Guide was published in 1900 by French industrialist Andre Michelin and  his brother Edouard.  They wanted to create a buzz for the automobile industry with the ultimate goal of creating business for the tires they manufactured.

The maiden print of the Michelin Guide included maps and how to repair and change tires.  It also included hotels, gas stations, mechanics and notably, restaurants along popular routes in France.  And with that, they say the rest is already history. 

Fast forward to the present time, the Michelin Star rating awarded to restaurants continues to be a popular guide and even a factor that increases traffic in the streets where these restaurants are in the city.  It may have just been a byproduct of the Michelin brothers’ main target to increase the popularity of automobiles in the past, but now it has clearly become a stand-alone product and gold standard at that.

Here’s the 8 Michelin-Starred restaurants that will make your wandering foodie heart skip a beat.  The list only includes 3 and 2 star-ratings because we want to offer you only the best of the best in San Francisco!


1. Atelier Crenn

Behind an unassuming facade mere steps from the San Francisco Bay, Dominique Crenn offers various multi-course experiences and artfully presented French dishes with a focus on innovation, served in a minimalist setting.

LOCATION: 3127 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94123


2. Benu

Minimalist SoMa spot featuring innovative, Minimalist SoMa spot featuring innovative, American cuisine and renowned tasting menu by chef Corey Lee, the former Chef de cuisine at the French Laundry.

LOCATION: 22 Hawthorne St, San Francisco, CA 94105


3. Acquerello

For more than three decades, Acquerello has offered an unparalleled Italian fine-dining experience in San Francisco’s Nob Hill neighborhood. The restaurant, operated by Giancarlo Paterlini and Executive Chef Suzette Gresham, has been heralded for its high-end Italian cuisine & wines served in a converted chapel with vaulted, wood-beam ceilings.

LOCATION: 1722 Sacramento St, San Francisco, CA 94109


4. Birdsong

Set out to explore, discover and showcase the original cuisine of the Pacific Northwest with its cozy, upscale stop with a chef’s tasting menu highlighting Pacific Northwest & wood-fire cooking.

LOCATION: 1085 Mission St, CA 94103


5. Californios

Californios is a family owned and operated California Mexican restaurant. The cuisine is a contemporary expression of Mexican cuisine, using the bountiful ingredients of the Bay Area for inventive tasting menus & small-batch wines served in a cozy, luxe interior.

LOCATION: 355 11th St, San Francisco, CA 94103


6. Campton Place

Taj Campton Place holds a special place in the heart of San Francisco food lovers. Guests universally agree that no trip here is complete without sampling our signature Cal-Indian cuisine, a flavorful spin on California cuisine pairing fresh, seasonal ingredients with India’s rich culinary heritage.

LOCATION: Taj Campton Place, 340 Stockton St, San Francisco, CA 94108


7. Lazy Bear

The revered pop-up gets a permanent setting with this midcentury space serving New American cuisine. Lazy Bear’s cuisine centers around nostalgia and a reverence for the wild, utilizing a wide variety of preservation methods and inventive techniques.

LOCATION: 3416 19th St, San Francisco, CA 94110


8. Saison

Saison is a modern American restaurant located in San Francisco, California. Their cuisine is focused around wood fire cooking of seasonal ingredients in an open-kitchen space in a historic building known for luxe, innovative French-American tasting menus.

LOCATION: 178 Townsend St, San Francisco, CA 94107


So whether you’re a local foodie who wants to experience the world renowned Michelin starred restaurants in the neighborhood or you’re a wandering foodie who’s just visiting and curious if the anonymous inspector who visited the restaurant awarded the right number of stars, check out the list above and feel free to add or deduct stars.  After all, a wandering foodie may get attracted to the stars that shine bright in that restaurant but it’s the overall vibes that make the restaurant a star.


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