The Michelin Guide, arbiter of fine dining the world over, has finally deigned to publish a California Guide this year. They did make an ill-fated attempt to hit Los Angeles in 2008, but ceased by 2010. San Francisco has been getting all of the love.
Michelin, a French tire company, began publishing travel guides for France in 1900 to encourage recreational driving. Over the years they branched out to include European and North African countries. In 1922 they hired a team of inspectors to anonymously review restaurants for them, awarding the much-coveted Michelin stars to the best of the best. In the 50s, Michelin began giving awards in a special category to restaurants offering “exceptionally good food at moderate prices.”
The Bib Gourmand restaurant list was just released for Los Angeles. It does a good job of reflecting the diversity of L.A. At one time best restaurants lists would have consisted primarily of Italian restaurants and Steak houses. The list is inclusive, with examples of nearly every kind of cuisine offered in the city, including favorites like Jitlada, Badmaash, Rosaline, Mariscos Jalisco, Katsu-ya and Lunasia Dim Sum House. It almost looks like their main sources to discover restaurants to review for this category were Jonathan Gold’s annual list and LA Taco’s Rogue 99.
However, with the Bib Gourmand restaurants mapped out, you can see that they don’t fully represent the city. The restaurants still line up in the typical Downtown to Santa Monica row. Although the Michelin Guide did extend that row East into Pasadena and Rosemead, the South Bay only merits three restaurants, ignoring the area’s rich history of Japanese restaurants, and only Con’i Seafood keeps South LA on the map. The Valley, on the other hand is left high and dry. Glendale is as close as it gets. Perhaps some stars may be awarded in the neglected areas.
There are a number of spectacular restaurants that have been left off the list, primarily because of price point, like Gwen, Animal, The Water Grill, Republique, Providence, Bestia, n/naka, Shibumi, Vespertine, Lucques, Nerano, Jar, 91 Above and Felix Trattoria. Although I might say that it is pushing it to call Bib Gourmands Petit Trois, Rossoblu, and Broken Spanish affordable for most Angelenos. The Michelin site defines Bib Gourmands as “high-quality meals which include two courses and a glass of wine or dessert for $40 or less.” That limit must have been changed since that web site posted it. Because I dare you to get out of one of those places for under $40 with an app, a main and a glass of wine.
We will be waiting with bated breath for the stars to drop on June 7, 2019. In the meantime, there are a few restaurants on this list we have yet to try
This map does not include Orange County or the two LA restaurants that have closed.