San Francisco Foodie Scene Reaches the Stars

Author: Curt Wagner       

San Francisco dining

AL’s Place, in San Francisco’s Mission District, is the least expensive Michelin-starred restaurant in the U.S. (Courtesy of AL’s Place)?

Delegates heading to San Francisco Jan. 5-8 for PCMA’s Convening Leaders 2020 might want to pack some of their roomier clothes — like maybe pants with an elastic waistband. The Bay Area is home to more restaurants earning three stars in the Michelin Guide — seven — than even New York City, which has five.

In total, the Bay Area can boast it has 68 percent of the 90 California restaurants listed with one, two, or three stars in the first-ever Michelin Guide California, which was published in June 2019. The guide’s breakdown goes like this:

  • The seven restaurants with three stars are all in the San Francisco Bay Area.
  • Of the 14 restaurants with two stars, eight are in the Bay Area.
  • The Bay Area is home to 46 of the 69 restaurants with one star.

One of the new three-star restaurants, Atelier Crenn in the Cow Hollow neighborhood, made history with the distinction. Chef-proprietor Dominique Crenn is the first female head chef of a three-starred restaurant in the U.S. in the 13 years since Michelin came to the States.

San Francisco dining

Dominique Crenn, chef-proprietor of Atelier Crenn in San Francisco, is the first female head chef of a Michelin three-starred restaurant in the U.S. (Jordan Wise Photography)

Three stars, in Michelin terms, means “exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey.” Besides Atelier Crenn, the other restaurants in the city that earned three stars are Benu and Quince. In the Bay Area, The French Laundry, Manresa, The Restaurant at Meadowood, and Single Thread Farm hold the honor.

Two-star restaurants, according to Michelin, offer “excellent cuisine, worth a detour.” The Bay Area has two — Baumé and Commis — while San Francisco proper has six — Acquerello, Californios, Campton Place, Coi, Lazy Bear, and Saison.

Michelin defines a one-star restaurant as being “a very good restaurant in its category.” One of the 46 total in the Bay Area — AL’s Place — might be budget-conscious CL attendees’ best choice. According to Traveloka, an Indonesian online travel booking company, the vegetable-centric AL’s Place is the least expensive Michelin-starred restaurant in the U.S. with dishes that cost about $18.

Other affordable restaurants with one star in the region, according to Traveloka’s rankings, include Kin Khao, Commonwealth, and State Bird Provisions.

After your fine-dining experience in San Francisco, the city might tempt you in another belt-busting way: According to a WalletHub story, San Francisco had the highest number of chocolate shops per 100,000 residents, at 9.17 per person.

Curt Wagner is an associate editor at Convene.

San Francisco dining

AL’s Place serves seasonal dishes that highlight the produce of Northern California, including this lightly cured trout (from left), the pea curry, and the baby lettuces. (Courtesy of AL’s Place)

San Francisco’s 1-Star Scene

Here are the restaurants in the San Francisco area that hold one Michelin star. If a city is listed after the name, the restaurant is located in the wider Bay Area.

  • AL’s Place
  • Angler
  • Auberge du Soleil, Rutherford
  • Aubergine, Monterey
  • Bar Crenn
  • Birdsong
  • Bouchon, Napa Valley
  • Chez TJ, Mountain View
  • Commonwealth
  • Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant, Forestville
  • Gary Danko
  • Harbor House Inn, Mendocino
  • Hashiri
  • In Situ
  • jū-ni
  • Keiko à
  • Kenzo, Napa
  • Kinjo
  • Kin Khao
  • La Toque, Napa
  • Lord Stanley
  • Luce
  • Madcap, San Anselmo
  • Madera, Menlo Park
  • Madrona Manor, Healdsburg
  • Maum, Palo Alto
  • Michael Mina
  • Mister Jiu’s
  • Mourad
  • Nico
  • Octavia
  • Omakase
  • Plumed Horse, Saratoga
  • The Progress
  • Protégé, Palo Alto
  • Rasa, Burlingame
  • Rich Table
  • Sons & Daughters
  • Sorrel
  • SPQR
  • Spruce
  • State Bird Provisions
  • Sushi Yoshizumi, San Mateo
  • The Village Pub, Woodside
  • Wako
  • Wakuriya, San Mateo