13 Best Restaurants in America
13 Best Restaurants in America, According to Michelin.
As the pandemic ravaged the restaurant industry in 2020, Michelin took a step back.
In 2022 Michelin returned in full force after the pandemic and evaluated restaurants across the country to determine the 13 Best Restaurants in America.
And after four years without a new restaurant notching three Michelin stars, the little red guide bestowed its highest honor to Addison in San Diego.
The restaurant at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar became the very first in Southern California to ever be deemed Michelin three-star worthy.
The United States now boasts 13 restaurants that the old French tire company regards as having exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey.
Here are the restaurants that have reached what many consider the top rung of fine dining or the 13 Best Restaurants in America, according to Michelin.
13 Best Restaurants in America – Addison, San Diego
When Michelin expanded to cover all of California in 2019, Addison received one star for its outstandingly executed French-influenced fare, but chef William Bradley had higher ambitions.
So he and his team set to remake the menu and find a voice more distinctly their own, focusing on the produce, flavors and culture surrounding them.
Calling it “California Gastronomy” now a the nine-course tasting menu includes dishes like the Thai coconut soup tom kha gai and Regiis Ova caviar perched atop creamy koshihikari rice with a smoked sabayon and sesame seeds.
Michelin noticed, elevating Addison to two stars in the 2021 California guide before handing the restaurant its third this past December.
Ever since Michelin first came to the Windy City for its 2011 edition, chef Grant Achatz’s temple of molecular gastronomy has held three stars.
Drawing on flavors from around the world—one course may be a chicken thigh with Mexican spices, while a rare Japanese fish may be another—Alinea’s modernist cuisine is strongly influenced from the time he spent at Ferran Adrià’s El Bulli.
The restaurant is a showcase of advanced technique where food is dehydrated, subjected to liquid nitrogen, and you may even be fed an edible balloon.
13 Best Restaurants in America – Atelier Crenn, San Francisco
Since opening in 2011, chef Dominique Crenn has put out a soulful, artistic take on modern French fare.
After sitting at two stars for years, Michelin has finally awarded Atelier Crenn a third.
The guide wrote that “The current menu displays a wonderful balance of grace, artistry, technical ability and taste.” With the honor, Crenn became the first woman to run a Michelin three-star restaurant in America.
Not only that, her newest restaurant Bar Crenn—an ode to classic French gastronomy—picked up a star in its first year of eligibility.
In 2019 she announced that she would take the meat off of all her menus—seafood would remain—because of Crenn’s concern about the environmental impact of animal agriculture.
However, she has said she would serve lab-grown chicken once it passes FDA approval.
Benu, San Francisco
Among his peers, chef Corey Lee is highly revered. “The first time I ate Corey’s food was at the French Laundry when he was chef de cuisine,” Crenn says. “I could taste the talent behind the food.
What I love about Benu is he celebrates where he’s from—Korea—and he communicates that in a very special way.”
Praised for his technical ability and refinement of dishes, Lee’s Benu earned its third star in the 2015 guide.
Lee has merged flavors from Korea, China and Japan with techniques he honed as the French Laundry’s chef de cuisine for four years.
The result is a lauded tasting menu that will feature dishes like an oyster with pork belly and kimchi; or smoked quail, lilies and fermented pepper.
13 Best Restaurants in America – Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare New York
The name is a bit of a misnomer, as chef César Ramirez has moved his fine-dining restaurant from Downtown Brooklyn to Hell’s Kitchen in Manhattan.
But the format has endured. Diners sit arrayed around a counter, the chefs in full view preparing them a multi-course tasting menu of French-Japanese fusion cuisine.
When Brooklyn Fare earned its third star a Michelin inspector told the New York Times “I don’t believe there is anything quite like it in the world, though you might see the closest parallels in Tokyo or Kyoto.
If you took the cuisine out of the setting it would compare favorably with other three stars.”
Eleven Madison Park, New York City
Despite being closed until after the 2021 New York guide was released, Eleven Madison Park, the former No. 1 restaurant at the World’s 50 Best, retained its three Michelin stars.
In May of 2020, Daniel Humm worried about whether he’d ever reopen EMP, and when he finally decided it was time, the restaurant that reemerged this past June was markedly different than the one that came before.
EMP has gone mostly vegan, with Humm saying at the time of the announcement that the “current food system is simply not sustainable.”
When the guide had the opportunity to sample EMP’s vegan fare, it deemed it still worthy of three stars in the latest New York edition.
13 Best Restaurants in America – French Laundry, Yountville, CA
Around since the early 1900s, the French Laundry was transformed by Thomas Keller into a leader of American fine dining after taking it over in 1994.
Rooted in his love of French food and technique, the nine-course menu features dishes like a cauliflower velouté with toasted marcona almonds, john dory with creamed black trumpet mushrooms, squab with sunchokes, and venison with caramelized Brussels sprouts.
“The French Laundry showed the importance of nostalgia in food,” says James Syhabout of two-star Commis in Oakland.
“It traces what triggers you to take you to that same place when you first had a dish and it made you so happy.
That’s all that matters sometimes about food.”
One of the greatest testaments to the French Laundry’s influence has been the sheer number of alumni who have opened acclaimed restaurants of their own, from Grant Achatz’s Alinea, to Corey Lee’s Benu, to Rene Redzepi’s Noma.
Like his idol Paul Bocuse, Keller has created a proving ground for exceptional chefs.
The Inn at Little Washington, Washington, VA
It took three years for Michelin to deem a DC-area restaurant worthy of three stars, and it’s not a surprise that when it finally happened Patrick O’Connell’s Inn would be on the receiving end.
Nestled near the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia in a town of less than 200 people, he opened in a former garage, building it into a temple of gastronomy over the last four decades.
The self-taught chef pioneered American farm-to-table cooking, while leaning on modern French technique that the Gallic food guide especially loves.
13 Best Restaurants in America – Le Bernardin, New York City
Eric Ripert helms one of the finest seafood restaurants in America.
Le Bernardin originally opened in 1986, an import from Paris, and was a hit immediately upon arriving on our shores.
Ripert took over the kitchen in 1994, continuing the approach of exceptional seafood, simply prepared.
When we named the “30 Most Influential Restaurants of the Last 30 Years” Le Bernadin was among the honorees, with chef Adrienne Cheatham summing up its legacy by saying, “This restaurant dedicated itself to exploring the bounty of the sea and to challenge and change the way diners were used to not only cooking and consuming, but also purchasing seafood.”
Masa, New York City
One of the most expensive tasting menus in America, chef Masa Takayama serves up an omakase sushi experience at his eponymous restaurant in New York’s Time Warner Center on the corner of Central Park.
The omakase menu is $750 per person while the chef’s counter experience is $950.
The Japanese-born chef moved to Los Angeles in the late 1970s and eventually opened Ginza Sushi-ko, which helped establish the city’s love for sushi.
In 2004, with encouragement from Thomas Keller, he moved to New York to create Masa.
Fish from Japan is flown in directly to him to ensure the highest-quality product for his customers.
In the 2009 guide, it became the first Japanese restaurant in America to earn three stars and it remains the only one with three in the US.
13 Best Restaurants in America – Per Se, New York City
As Thomas Keller prepared to bring his Francophile cooking to New York after much success with the French Laundry out in Napa, he was asked how his new restaurant would compare to the one that had established him as an iconic American chef.
He’d respond, “It’s not the French Laundry, per se.” The name stuck.
Like the French Laundry, Per Se serves a nine-course menu, replete with his take on modern French.
Quince, San Francisco
Chef Michael Tusk has combined his love of Northern Italian cuisine with his surrounds in Northern California to evolve classics like tortellini into modern American fare.
Opened in 2003, Quince earned its third Michelin star in the 2017 guide.
As with fellow pillars of contemporary California cuisine in the Bay Area, Quince is devoted to sourcing the best product.
Tusk has created a partnership with Fresh Run Farm—an early adopter of organic farming—to grow heirloom fruits, vegetables and flowers exclusively for the chef.
In 2011, after six straight nominations, Tusk won the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Pacific, for his work at Quince and his rustic Italian restaurant Cotogna.
Earlier in 2019, Tusk and his wife Lindsay also opened their French-inspired casual wine bar Verjus, which closed during the pandemic, but they’re looking to revive the space with a different concept in 2023.
13 Best Restaurants in America – SingleThread, Healdsburg, CA
Husband and wife duo Kyle and Katina Connaughton wanted to open more than just a restaurant when they debuted SingleThread in Sonoma in 2016.
From the inn above the restaurant to the farm to the 11-course tasting menu, the two create an immersive and comprehensive experience.
The Japanese-inflected food is informed by Kyle’s time as a chef around the globe.
Among many stints, he worked at the famed chef Michel Bras’ restaurant in Hokkaido, Japan, made pastries at Wolfgang Puck’s Spago in Beverly Hills; and led the research kitchen at Heston Blumenthal’s temple of molecular gastronomy The Fat Duck.
When the pandemic shut them down, Connaughton switched to a takeout menu, but also partnered with local nonprofit Sonoma Family Meal to make meals for those in need in their community.