Year first granted: 2021 (one star in 2019)
Despite being in a city with its fair share of haute Japanese cuisine, there's something special happening at Hayato. Tucked behind traditional noren that hang over the door, chef-owner Brandon Go prepares a multicourse, traditional kaiseki dinner ($350 per person) every night of service. The space is intimate, the ceramics are handcrafted and imported from Japan, and Go’s precision and technique come by way of training under Michelin-starred Japanese chefs. Artful simplicity is the name of Go’s kaiseki game, by way of dishes like steamed abalone with an unctuous liver sauce, an owan course of delicate crab meatball soup, and fresh fruit coated in a salted sake jelly. Note: These stunningly artful kaiseki dinners typically fill up a month in advance after going live on Tock on the first of every month, so plan ahead.
Let’s be real: Could a French tire company really encapsulate what good dining in Los Angeles entails? Apparently, they’re still going to try. After taking a yearlong hiatus in 2020, the largely Eurocentric international guide has released its third post-pandemic guide for California, and thus the City of Angels. In 2023, Michelin has yanked a star from Culver City’s Hatchet Hall (just seven months after awarding it) and Minh Phan’s now-closed Phenakite tasting pop-up. With all its picks this year in the three dollar sign range and above, the nearly century-old Big Red Book is proving to us all that while age is just a number, culinary elitism is timeless.
For those blissfully unaware of what the Michelin Guide is, here’s how it all goes down: The star ratings, while not universally celebrated, are considered the most prestigious award any restaurant could ever receive. One star denotes “a very good restaurant,” two signifies “excellent cooking that is worth a detour” and three stars, most coveted of all, translates to “exceptional cuisine that is worth a special journey.” A newer Bib Gourmand category, added to their 2019 guide to California, also recognizes more affordable spots, with four new L.A. area additions in 2023.
To determine these ratings, the guide’s anonymous inspectors visit and judge restaurants according to quality, atmosphere, service and even nominal details, such as how far apart the tables are spaced. With a clear bias towards fine dining and blatant roots in a culture of Western imperialism, the Michelin Guide is just one measure of excellence in food and hospitality among many—particularly in a city as rich in amazing street food and multicultural cuisine such as L.A.
However, if you still have (French multinational tire brand) stars in your eyes, look no further: We’ve updated our list of the city’s Michelin-starred restaurants for 2023. Of note: L.A. has zero three-star spots, the highest award the guide confers, though you can drive down to Addison in San Diego if you’re interested in that sort of thing.