The Guide to Michelin Restaurants Beyond San Francisco
While San Francisco itself has some amazing Michelin-starred restaurants, quite a few eateries beyond the bridge offer an amazing dining experience and are very much worth the trip.
What A Michelin Star Means
The Michelin star is the highest distinction a restaurant can earn in the culinary world. Restaurants can receive one, two or three Michelin stars, and these stars can also be taken away at any time. In the past 10 years, more and more restaurants in and around the San Francisco Bay Area have received at least one Michelin star, with a total of six restaurants having three stars.
Stars are granted based on a wide range of criteria, including quality of ingredients, impressive technical skill, and a balanced menu with a wide range of flavors. Drinks offered must complement the meals accordingly. The distinction between the stars is as follows:
- One Star: A very good restaurant in its own category.
- Two Stars: Excellent cooking, worth a detour.
- Three Stars: Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey.
Michelin Star Restaurants Beyond San Francisco
The French Laundry - 3 Michelin Stars (6640 Washington St., Yountville)
This is one of the most famous restaurants in America, having held three Michelin stars since 2007. The French Laundry is truly a must-visit for any die-hard foodie. Thomas Keller, now the proud owner of a restaurant empire, started running this ambitious restaurant in 1994 in the heart of Napa Valley. Here, you will dine on a 12-course tasting menu of French cuisine with modern American flair and ingredients sourced from the restaurant's gardens. Another unique feature is that not a single ingredient is duplicated between courses. It is also one of the most expensive restaurants on this list, at $350 per person, including service and taxes. Supplements and alcoholic beverages may be added at an additional cost.
SingleThread - 3 Michelin Stars (131 North St., Healdsburg)
Recognized as one of the World's 50 Best Restaurants in 2022, SingleThread is a 55-seat restaurant from the husband-and-wife team of chef Kyle Connaughton and farmer Katina Connaughton. Their 10-course tasting menu ($425 per person) takes diners on a complete culinary journey dictated by a seasonal bounty from their nearby farm. Your Japanese kaiseki (multi-course) dinner embraces the spirit of Japanese hospitality as it celebrates their training in both Japan and England and is infused with California farm-to-table gastronomy.
Commis - 2 Michelin Stars (3859 Piedmont Ave., Oakland)
Just over the Bay Bridge in Oakland sits Commis, owner of two Michelin stars and the beacon of fine dining in the East Bay. Although the multi-course tasting menu ($225 per person) is ambitious and bold, the space is small and minimally decorated, offering few distractions from the food. The 31 seats include a counter overlooking the open kitchen in the front. The food is as delicious as it is intimate.
Farmhouse Inn and Restaurant - 1 Michelin Star (7871 River Rd., Forestville)
The Farmhouse Inn and Restaurant is the quaint brainchild of brother-and-sister team Joe and Catherine Bartolomei and chef Jackson Clark. Their restaurant reflects their Italian heritage and family history as natives of Sonoma's Russian River Valley. With delicious locally sourced and simply prepared food, this delightful restaurant is worth the trip. A six course menu is $175 per person.
La Toque - 1 Michelin Star (1314 McKinstry St., Napa)
La Toque in Napa offers the ultimate experience in food and wine pairings. At La Toque, make selections from the à la carte menu or choose a seven-course tasting menu ($225 per person), where the chef selects the best experience for you. They are also dedicated to the quality of their ingredients, which are sourced from local farms and purveyors.
Madera - 1 Michelin Star (2825 Sand Hill Rd., Menlo Park)
Madera is the main restaurant in the swanky Rosewood Sand Hill hotel in Menlo Park. It offers up delightful food and a stunning view of the Santa Cruz mountains. The food at Madera pays homage to the history of food in the Bay Area. Madera means "wood" in Spanish and is meant to recall the wood-burning kitchens of the early Spanish Missions and California Ranch houses. The kitchen offers up consistently good food and has earned one Michelin star for the effort.
Wakuriya - 1 Michelin Star (115 De Anza Blvd., San Mateo)
Wakuriya is a Japanese restaurant in the kaiseki tradition, but with a contemporary twist, located in San Mateo. The restaurant is small but very serious, and it serves up some delicious cuisine. There is just one chef preparing meals for every guest, all of whom sit at a long open kitchen counter so you can watch him at work. Wakuriya offers a nine-course tasting menu ($158 per person) that changes monthly. The place books up and reservations are accepted one month in advance, so make sure to set a reminder!