Michelin To Release California Guide | Could San Diego Finally Get A Star?

March 5, 2019 

Expected to be released by this summer, Michelin, the French tire company whose star ratings are considered among the highest honors a restaurant can receive, will release a California guide that will include San Diego. Visit California, the state's tourism authority, allegedly paid Michelin $600,000 to get the guide published.

For nearly a decade, no Southern California restaurant has been featured by the Michelin Guide, but this year will be the first time that the prestigious travel resource will evaluate restaurants across an entire state. Launching in partnership with Visit California, Michelin will publish the inaugural statewide edition for the Golden State, and the first regional guide for the United States. While a San Francisco Michelin Guide has been published annually since 2007, Michelin has not featured a Los Angeles guide since 2009 and has never spotlighted San Diego. There is no guarantee that Michelin inspectors will award stars to any San Diego restaurants in its inaugural California guide, but it is certainly a good possibility.

"With access to many of the world’s best farms, food producers and vineyards, California cuisine is respected worldwide not only for the quality of its ingredients but also due to the creativity displayed by its chefs," said Gwendal Poullennec, international director for the Michelin Guides. "In addition, our inspectors have been impressed with the talent and innovation within the gastronomic community across the state. Michelin’s partnership combines Visit California’s strength in tourism with Michelin’s 120-plus years of experience in gastronomy."

Although no San Diego restaurant has ever received a Michelin star, America's Finest City has chefs that have received Michelin honors. CH Projects (Ironside Fish & Oyster, Born & Raised, incoming Morning Glory) Corporate Chef & Partner Jason McLeod was the chef at Chicago's Ria when it was awarded two Michelin stars in 2010. Three more Michelin-starred chefs are opening San Diego restaurants this year.

San Francisco Michelin-starred chef Michael Mina is launching an outpost of his global barbecue concept International Smoke as part of San Marcos's developing One Paseo luxury mixed-use project. He is also the consulting chef behind The Bungalow location opening in Westfield UTC. Father and son chefs Antonio & Luca Abbruzzino, whose Ristorante Abbruzzino in Italy’s Calabria region was awarded a Michelin star, are relocating to San Diego to open a modern, seafood-centric Italian eatery in Bankers Hill called Il Dandy in partnership with the team from Little Italy's Civico 1845. Last but certainly not least, Korean-born chef Akira Back has teamed up with San Diego's RMD Group to open Lumi, a 5,000 square-foot rooftop Japanese restaurant launching as part of the multi-concept revamp of the historic Grand Pacific Hotel in San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter.

Established in 1900 by the French tire company, the Michelin guide was started to increase the demand for cars and, thus, car tires. It has become a touted resource for upscale diners with restaurants around the globe vying for a coveted star rating (three stars being the highest), which usually results in drastically increased business and reputation. Michelin publishes 32 guides annually in more than 24 countries, including four cities featured in the United States - San Francisco, Chicago, New York, and Washington D.C. The San Francisco edition is expected to be incorporated into the new California guide. In the U.S., San Francisco holds the most number of three-star restaurants with eight.

Bi-weekly newsletter Family Meal got to the bottom of what brought the Michelin Guide in California to fruition. The idea originated with the tourism board of Sacramento, Visit Sacramento, and eventually came to include Los Angeles, San Diego, the Central Coast, and all of California. The $600,000 paid by the California tourism board allegedly goes to allow "Michelin to underwrite hard costs of expanding the guide to cover the whole state" and does not influence which restaurants are included.

The 2019 star selection for the inaugural California Michelin Guide will be revealed during a special event scheduled in the summer. For more information on the Michelin Guide, visit guide.michelin.com