If you associate “Michelin” with a tire company as opposed to a sought-after rating in the food, beverage, and hospitality industry, you’ll be surprised to know that they’re one and the same.
Michelin Stars originated from the Michelin Guide that Andre and Edouard Michelin created in 1889 to entice drivers to take their cars out on the town. Today, a Michelin Star signifies the highest standard of atmosphere, food, and dining experience.
During my most recent trip to San Francisco, I had the pleasure of dining at the best restaurants in town, which is to say that all of them had Michelin Stars.
Read on to discover the best Michelin Star restaurants in San Francisco.
22 Hawthorne St, San Francisco, CA 94105
Benu is a modern Asian bistro in the Financial District one block from both the Salesforce Tower and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.
Seoul Korea native, owner, and executive Chef Corey Lee has received a James Beard Award for Best Chef, and Benu has 3 Michelin Stars along with the AAA Five Diamond Award.
Benu has a minimalist décor, serving as a tasteful backdrop for stunning innovative plates that use locally sourced ingredients and Pan Asian flavors.
The menu is a pre-fixe multi-course meal that changes according to seasonal availability. My favorite dish was the lobster coral xiao long bao.
470 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133
From James Beard Award-winning Chef Michael Tusk and his wife Lindsay, Quince is a highly decorated Californian and Italian fusion restaurant.
Located in Jackson Square, Quince has both 3 Michelin Stars and the Michelin Green star for sustainability.
Quince is a farm-to-table restaurant in which Chef Tusk and the farmer plan menus and produce cultivation together.
The menu changes every night, offering a pre-fixe meal with 8-10 courses. All meat and fish are locally sourced.
When I went during the spring, I delighted in the spring lamb with bagna cauda, garlic scape, and French radish.
178 Townsend St, San Francisco, CA 94107
Located in an open, communal space in South Beach a block from Oracle Park, Saison is a New American restaurant that revolves around open-fire cooking.
Customers have a front-row seat to the grilling and fire-cooking techniques of each dish prepared from an open kitchen.
Saison uses locally sourced meat, dairy, and produce and has one of the largest wine lists in the nation. Each menu item comes paired with various fine wines from around the world.
The pre-fixe menu offers simple yet perfect plates of meat, fish, and vegetables. I loved the coal-roasted beets and bone marrow.
3127 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94123
Atelier Crenn is a veritable culinary museum in which the owner and head chef Dominique Crenn creates culinary works of art.
Located in Cow Hollow, minutes away from the East Harbor, Atelier Crenn specializes in French cuisine. Dominique Crenn is the first female chef to receive 3 Michelin stars.
The dining experience is art in every aspect; the menu is a poem, the dining space is adorned with Crenn’s father’s paintings, and the food itself is a colorful and imaginative plate of edible art.
It was a once-in-a-lifetime dining experience that went far beyond eating. That said, the abalone with cabbage and smoked crème Fraiche was excellent.
355 11th St, San Francisco, CA 94103
Located in SOMA, Californios is a fine-dining Mexican and California fusion restaurant that is family-owned and operated.
Executive Chef Val M. Cantu won the Best New Chef award from Food and Wine Magazine for his vibrant, creative, and fresh-tasting menu.
The sedate storefront opens into a stunning modern dining room with a wonderful garden patio surrounded by greenery.
The menu is a pre-fixe multi-course tasting menu that changes with the seasons, highlighting California’s vast culinary bounty.
Each menu item is a simple one-word dish like langosta (lobster) or frijoles (beans) that masks each dish as a mystery until you see and taste it in all its glory.
3416 19th St, San Francisco, CA 94110
Named for an anagram of the owner and head Chef David Barzelay’s last name, Lazy Bear originated as a secret dinner party in Barzelay’s apartment in 2009.
The creative menu and communal foundation at his dinner parties transformed into a beloved bistro in the Mission District of San Fran in 2014.
Lazy Bear has two Michelin Stars and continues to serve creative, ever-changing meals in a dinner party format.
The menu features modern takes on wild game in an elaborate multi-course meal. Each menu item is paired with fine wine. I enjoyed the sea scallop with sorrel, buckwheat, and cucumber.
NEAR VAN NESS &, 1722 Sacramento St, San Francisco, CA 94109
Located in Nob Hill, Acquerello is a fine-dining Italian bistro owned and operated by Giancarlo Paterlini and Executed Chef Suzette Gresham.
The modern yet cozy dining space has romantic dim lighting, white tablecloths, and fresh flowers adorning the booths and plates.
Chef Gresham has earned Acquerello 2 Michelin Stars as well as a spot on the Michelin Guide’s Spectacular Women-Led Restaurant list.
There are three menus at Acquerello: a seasonal tasting menu, a vegetable tasting menu, and a Prix Fixe Menu.
I recommend the Prix Fixe Menu, so you can get a taste of classic and modern Italian dishes. My favorite dish was the California King salmon with summer squash, basil, and tomato broth.
1499 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110
From Northern California local Aaron London, AL’s Place is a casual, farm-to-table Mission District neighborhood eatery in a bright blue storefront.
The fun and inviting atmosphere feature ingredient-driven meals sourced from Blue Dane Garden, a farm that grows produce exclusively for AL’s Place.
The menu is as colorful as the dining space and accessible to most budgets. You can opt for a family-style meal or order a la cart from a list of snacks, hot and cold small plates, entrees, and desserts. I loved the California-style cheese grits with goat’s milk curd, fava beans, yuzu blaster, peas, and mint.
1085 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94103
Birdsong is a high-end SOMA bistro that specializes in simple, New American dishes that showcase the full potential of whole ingredients.
Executive Chef and owner Christopher Bleidorn artfully bridges the gap between tradition and novelty with his seasonal menu that celebrates nourishment and cooking as an integral part of the culture.
Birdsong has received praise from Table Hopper, the San Francisco Chronicle, and Eater. Birdsong offers a seasonal tasting menu with 10 courses.
My two favorite dishes were the sea urchin cream puff with fermented shitake and savory butterscotch and the lacquered and smoked quail with parker house rolls.
Taj Campton Place, 340 Stockton St, San Francisco, CA 94108
Located inside the Campton Place Hotel in the Financial District, Taj Compton Place Bar and Bistro is a fine-dining Cal-Indian comfort food restaurant.
Chef Srijith Gopinathan is a South Indian native who went to culinary school in the US. He uses his decades of experience working in San Francisco to inform his visually stunning menu of classic Indian comfort dishes with California flare.
Taj is the only Michelin-starred Indian restaurant in San Francisco, thanks to Chef Gopinathan’s inventive menu.
The menu has the most impressive selection of Naan I’ve ever seen. My favorite variety is the Curried Shrimp Naan with cherry tomatoes, black rice, and green onions.
800 North Point St, San Francisco, CA 94109
Perhaps the most highly decorated fine-dining restaurant on my list, Gary Danko is a fine French Bistro in Fisherman’s Wharf.
Named for its owner and Executive Chef, Gary Danko has won just about every James Beard Award there is, twelve AAA Five Diamond Awards, and the Relais and Chateaux designation.
Gary Danko epitomizes the fine dining experience, with stunning plates, impeccable service, and one of the most beautiful dining rooms you’ll encounter.
The plates are almost too beautiful to eat. I had the Lemon Pepper Duck Breast with Duck hash over celery root puree with bacon braised endive and port cherries.
1335 Fulton St #101, San Francisco, CA 94117
Teetering between Haight Ashbury and Japan Town, Ju-Ni is an authentic Japanese Omakase restaurant from the owner and accomplished sushi Chef Geoffrey Lee.
The Omakase experience is as intimate as dining gets, involving three expert sushi chefs preparing their best dishes for parties of four customers.
Ju-Ni sources their exquisite fish-centric 14-course meal from Japan’s Toyosu Market, each dish a colorful bite-sized work of art. The Zuke Toro, a soy cured fatty tuna topped with caviar, was an Umami dream.
1911 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94115
From 5-time James Beard Award-winning Chef Matthew Accarrino, SPQR is a small Italian restaurant and wine bar in the Lower Pacific Heights neighborhood.
Chef Accarrino’s creative dishes are a modern take on Italian soul food. They have daily specials like weekend morning coffee and doughnuts and Sunday fried chicken dinners.
Dinner is a formal 5-course menu with various choices for each course. I started with the charred octopus with butter bean, pickled radicchio, and citronette. My favorite dish was the hazelnut-crusted king salmon with Umbrian lentils bathed in chartreuse butter.