Six SF Bay Area restaurants won

The Michelin Guide’s hotly anticipated stars are finally out, with six new Bay Area restaurants nabbing one of the most sought-after awards in the culinary world. Meanwhile, an unusually high number of spots lost their stars.

The Bay Area’s new one star-winners, announced at a ceremony in Los Angeles on Monday night, are all located in San Francisco and Wine Country. In San Francisco, modern Japanese spot Nisei, live-fire restaurant Osito, Korean barbecue specialist San Ho Won and Korean tasting menu spot Ssal all won their first Michelin stars. Acclaimed Sonoma County restaurant Cyrus, which reopened in Geyserville after 10 years this fall and once held two stars, regained a one-star distinction. Press in St. Helena won her first star in 15 years.

The communal dining table at Cyrus in Geyserville, which just won a Michelin star.

Brian L. Frank/Special to The Chronicle

The highly influential Michelin star remains a make-or-break award for many in the fine-dining world, known for bringing in more business and cache for winners.

Perhaps most notably, 10 previously-starred Bay Area restaurants dropped off the guide this year. This is the highest number of demotions in the Bay Area since at least 2019, Michelin confirmed. (The Michelin Guide did not award stars in 2020, during the height of the pandemic.)

Some can be attributed to closures: San Francisco’s AL’s Place and Daniel Patterson’s once two-star Coi both shut down permanently this year. Burlingame Indian destination Rasa closed and pivoted to a more casual restaurant, the owner said in part because of the pressure of earning a Michelin star. Cal-Indian fine-dining destination Campton Place, which recently lost its acclaimed executive chef Srijith Gopinathan, remains temporarily closed at the Taj Campton Place hotel but is reopening next year, a manager confirmed.

One of San Francisco’s most popular destinations for high-end sushi, Ju-Ni, lost its Michelin star this year, as did chef Mourad Lahlou’s eponymous Moroccan restaurant, Mourad, in San Francisco. The other Bay Area restaurants that lost their Michelin distinction are chef Ken Frank’s La Toque in Napa, hotel restaurant Madera in Menlo Park, Italian spot SPQR and high-end sushi bar Wako in San Francisco.

Ju-Ni in San Francisco in 2017. The high-end sushi restaurant lost its Michelin star this year.

Ju-Ni in San Francisco in 2017. The high-end sushi restaurant lost its Michelin star this year.

Michael Short/Special to the Chronicle

Michelin Guide representatives attributed the decline in part to the ongoing impacts of the pandemic, such as closures and an ongoing labor shortage that’s limiting how many restaurants can operate.

Gwendal Poullennec, international director of the Michelin Guide, told The Chronicle that the staffing crisis is one of the pandemic’s “long-lasting effects” around the world. Those who won stars “have managed to adapt to the situation … without compromising the quality” of food and service, he said.

Popular San Francisco restaurants that lost their stars in previous years still did not return this year, including Rich Table and Octavia. Palo Alto’s once two-star Baumé, whose owner Bruno Chemel celebrated his departure from the French guide last year, didn’t make the cut, either.

Nisei chef David Yoshimura, a fine dining chef who opened the restaurant after hosting a 10-course Japanese tasting menu pop-ups, also won the Michelin Guide’s “young chef” award. The Michelin Guide gave Vincent Morrow, a master sommelier at Press, its sommelier award.

Many acclaimed Bay Area fine dining restaurants held onto their Michelin stars this year, including the three-starred French Laundry in Yountville, Chinatown favorite Mister Jiu’s and Marlena in Bernal Heights, which won its first star last year. Oakland’s two-star Commis remains the only East Bay restaurant with stars this year.

Beyond the Bay Area, Localis became the second Sacramento restaurant to earn a star, joining the one-star The Kitchen.

The Michelin Guide’s ceremony experienced some technical difficulties, including frequent microphone feedback and delays due to the time it took for award winners to put on special Michelin chefs’ whites before getting on the stage. The YouTube livestream chat was full of cheeky criticisms of the apparent lack of preparation.

After Ssal’s star was announced, couple and co-owners Hyunyoung and Junsoo Bae joined a stage full of mostly male, new one-star winners. Famed San Francisco chef Dominique Crenn, standing in the front row, appeared to make a comment about the lack of female chefs, yelling “women power.” “Oh, yes, give it up for the female Michelin star chefs, absolutely,” ceremony host Nia Renee Hill said in response.

All of the new Bay Area restaurants that won stars are led by men, except for Ssal, which is co-run by the husband-and-wife team.

Before Monday’s announcement, the Michelin Guide recently added three Bay Area restaurants to its more affordable Bib Gourmand list: Good Good Culture Club in San Francisco, an offshoot of the wildly popular Liholiho Yacht Club; Hilda and Jesse in San Francisco, a sophisticated brunch restaurant; and Jo’s Modern Thai, which pairs large burgers with Thai-inspired cocktails in Oakland.

California is now home to 89 Michelin-starred restaurants. After France and Japan, the state boasts the most three-star establishments — all but one of which are located in the Bay Area.

Here’s the full list of Michelin star winners in Northern California:

Three stars

Atelier Crenn, San Francisco

Ben, San Francisco

The French Laundry, Yountville

Manresa, Los Gatos

Quince, San Francisco

SingleThread, Healdsburg

Two stars

Acquerello, San Francisco

Birdsong, San Francisco

California, San Francisco

Commis, Oakland

Harbor House Inn, Elk (Mendocino County)

Lazy Bear, San Francisco

Saison, San Francisco

One star

Adega, San Jose

Angler, San Francisco

Auberge du Soleil, Rutherford

Aubergine, Carmel-by-the-Sea (Monterey County)

Avery, San Francisco

Barndiva, Healdsburg

Chez TJ, Mountain View

Cyrus, Geyserville (NEW)

Gary Danko, San Francisco

Kenzo, Napa

Kin Khao, San Francisco

The Kitchen, Sacramento

Le Comptoir at Bar Crenn, San Francisco

Madcap, San Anselmo

Marlena, San Francisco

Mister Jiu’s, San Francisco

Niku Steakhouse, San Francisco

Nisei, San Francisco (NEW)

O’ by Claude Le Tohic, San Francisco

Omakase, San Francisco

Osito, San Francisco (NEW)

Plumed Horse, Saratoga

Press, St. Helena (NEW)

The Progress, San Francisco

Protégé, Palo Alto

San Ho Won, San Francisco (NEW)

Selby’s, Atherton

The Shota, San Francisco

Sons & Daughters, San Francisco

Sorrel, San Francisco

Spruce, San Francisco

Sal, San Francisco (NEW)

State Bird Provisions, San Francisco

Sushi Shin, Redwood City

Sushi Yoshizumi, San Mateo

The Village Pub, Woodside

Wakuriya, San Mateo

Elena Kadvany (she/her) is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @ekadvany

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