It's finally here. The Michelin Guide ended its coverage of L.A. and the surrounding areas roughly a decade ago, but as of 2019, the global restaurant recommendation system and tire producer is back. Tonight at a ceremony in Huntington Beach, Michelin unveiled its 2019 Michelin Guide California, the publication's first-ever statewide book, a tome that finally bestowed stars—highly coveted and awarded on a scale of one to three—to restaurants beyond San Francisco and Wine Country for the first time in years.
Last week Michelin released its 2019 California Bib Gourmand awards, which included more than 60 Los Angeles restaurants classified as budget-friendly, but it felt like all eyes were on Huntington Beach this evening for the big star-rating reveal.
In contrast to last year's guide, Michelin included 27 new additions to the one-star restaurant category statewide, and 18 of them are in Los Angeles. The guide also doubled the number of two-starred restaurants in California, but the biggest surprise—or maybe not, depending on whom you ask and how much trust they put into Michelin's inspectors—was that Michelin didn't award a single three-star rating to a restaurant outside of Northern California.
“Rich with many influences, California gastronomy has proved to be one of the most diverse and multicultural, while at the same time making the most of local and regional produce," Gwendal Poullennec, international director of the Michelin Guides, told the crowd. And while the guide is now available online in English, Spanish and Mandarin (for the first time ever, Poullennec noted), the word on diversity almost felt like deflection once the ratings began rolling out: California's 2019 stars reflected the usual fine dining, French technique and artful sushi, with little attention paid to Korean, Italian, Mexican and Chinese cuisines.
There's always next year, we suppose, but the fact of the matter is that Angelenos already invested in our dining scene know that our chefs and restaurants are worth so much more than these stars. Speculation proved true that Michelin would not award stars to L.A. street food, as it does in cities such as Hong Kong and Macau, though our world-class taqueros and other street vendors certainly merit it.
Reception to the guide's return has fluctuated wildly, oscillating between the ire and distrust you could probably expect from the residents of a city spurned, to chefs eager to learn where they place on the global scale.
"Considering it is a system that has been around for more than 100 years—the guide started in 1900—it’s fair to say that it works," Somni chef Aitor Zabala, who took home two stars tonight, emailed Time Out earlier today. "Sure, there are some parts of it that have been updated over the years but it’s an iconic system, a rating scale that is regarded as one of the most important, if not as the most important restaurant guide in the world."
Regardless of where you, we or anyone in the kitchen might stand, the prestige of a Michelin star is undeniable in the restaurant community, and can be known to drive business, even saving a restaurant on its last legs. Congratulations to all winners of California's first statewide Michelin Guide. Without further ado, here are L.A.'s 2019 Michelin-starred restaurants:
One-star winners in Los Angeles:
CUT by Wolfgang Puck
Orsa & Winston
Two-star winners in Los Angeles:
Sushi Ginza Onodera
One-star winners in Orange County:
You can find the full 2019 Michelin California guide here.