10 Michelin Star Restaurants to Experience in San Francisco & the Napa Valley
San Francisco and Napa Valley are chock-full of fine dining options and the bounty of the region is reflected in the fresh ingredients and seasonal menus prepared by the many talented chefs who reside in the Bay Area. The following nine restaurants represent the best of the best and each one of them have been honored with the highest award a restaurant can achieve—the elusive Michelin Star rating.
1. The French Laundry
The epicenter of fine dining in Napa Valley is located in tiny Yountville where the sun never sets on the epicurean empire of Thomas Keller and his highly acclaimed temple of inventive cuisine—The French Laundry. Two daily nine-course tasting menus are offered, the Chef’s Tasting Menu and Tasting of Vegetables. The series of small courses are designed to excite and delight your palate with no single ingredient repeated throughout the meal. The remarkable wine program spans the world’s major wine regions and the sommeliers will guide you the optimal wine best suited for the day’s menu. A meal at The French Laundry is a once in a lifetime gastronomic adventure and not to be missed, so plan to secure your reservations as soon as you know your travel dates.
At Benu the intention is set from the moment you enter the serene slate-grey dining room, the feeling is impressive yet relaxed, the atmosphere tinged with anticipation of the exceptional meal that lies ahead. The Benu nightly tasting menu is magical blend of American and Korean influences. Each dish plays upon the next from the Thousand-Year-Old Quail Egg, potage, ginger, to the Beef Braised in Pear, black trumpet, mustard, charred scallion. Chef Corey Lee’s talented staff is made up of a veritable dream team of fine dining veterans from the most awarded and recognized restaurants. Master Sommelier Yoon Ha curates the extensive wine program.
3. The Restaurant at Meadowood
The Restaurant at Meadowood, located on the sprawling two hundred fifty-acre estate of Meadowood Resort in Napa Valley, is synonymous with fine dining. Chef Christopher Kostow’s nightly Tasting Menu reflects the bounty of the region elevated to a level of beauty that is both delicious and transcendent. Every detail from the plating and composition to the actual plates themselves all dovetail in harmony. For the ultimate indulgence book the Counter Menu, a private experience offered in the kitchen only. The impressive wine list offers rare and prestigious labels from around the world along with highly sought after local wines to match the extraordinary food program.
Seasonal menus, inventive pairings and the finest ingredients are the hallmarks of Lindsay and Chef Michael Tusk's contemporary Northern California cuisine at Quince. Examples of the Spring Tasting menu include selections such as White Asparagus with english pea, morel mushroom, almond; Watson Farm Spring Lamb, green garlic, fiddlehead fern, and golden marjoram; ending with Fresh Run Farm Strawberry with buttermilk, sorrel, and white chocolate. Monday through Thursday a six-course menu is also available. Those preferring a shorter version of the menu are happily accommodated. Located in San Francisco’s historic Jackson Square, Quince is an excellent choice for special occasions and romantic date nights.
5. Al’s Place
Casual, relaxed, and unpretentious Al’s Place defies expectations for a Michelin rated restaurant where the focus is primarily on vegetables. It’s not totally vegetarian and meat does pop-up occasionally on the ever-changing menu. But with sublime vegetable dishes— such as the popular Blue Dane radishes (with their green leaves still attached) served with a curlicue of butter flavored with quince-skin kraut and a small pile of coarse-ground salt—you may not miss the protein. In addition to attaining a Michelin star, Al’s Place was also named Best New Restaurant in 2015 by Bon Appetit Magazine.
6. La Toque
Ever since Michelin starting awarding stars in Wine Country, La Toque has been one of the restaurants to earn one every year. Chef Ken Frank has a deliberate approach to food and wine pairings. His relentless pursuit of perfection entails daily tastings with the culinary staff and sommeliers to calibrate all the pairings to the highest level of sensory enjoyment. In addition to the Chefs Table Menu with nine-courses and the five course Vegetable Menu, guests have the flexibility of making their own choices and ordering four or five selections from the core menu as well. The extensive wine list received Wine Spectator’s highest honor, The Grand Award. Best of Wine Tourism Restaurants Regional Winner – 2011
Luce, located at the San Francisco Intercontinental Hotel, has won a Michelin star six years in a row under the direction of Chef de Cuisine Daniel Corey. The focus on modern American cuisine is emphasized with local flavors and global influences. The dramatic dining room is elegantly appointed and has the feel of a private penthouse with floor to ceiling windows that look out on the city. But the real drama is seen on the plate with selections such as Pacific Blue Prawn, roasted with espelette chili lemon, pistachio, brown butter, or the Artisan Foie Gras, with toasted brioche, poached strawberry, rhubarb & hibiscus jam. The cellar contains a 350-label collection of wines, with a focus on California and Italy. Best of Wine Tourism Restaurants Regional Winner – 2016.
8. The Restaurant at Auberge
If your idea of fine dining entails relaxed surroundings, elegant cuisine and impeccable service, you’ll find Auberge du Soleil in Napa Valley will meet and most likely exceed your expectations. The panoramic views from the terrace and the cozy French Country style dining room add to the ambience and play a supporting role to the award winning seasonal menu and outstanding wine list. The six-course Chefs Tasting menu with wine pairings is a singular experience; each course builds on the next highlighting the seasonal bounty of Napa. À la carte lunch and dinner menus are offered along with an irresistible dessert card. Those without a sweet tooth will appreciate the nightly selection of artisan cheeses.
Get ready for an adventure in culture and cuisine. Mourad brings a sleek and modern translation of Moroccan flavors to San Francisco in both the Kasbah-chic interior design and in the innovative dishes that grace the palate. Vibrant colors, flavors and interpretations are at the root of Chef Mourad Lahlou’s creations. The simple but elevated dishes are grounded in the past and imbued with the spirit of the present and local ingredients of Northern California. The wine list is thoughtfully considered with an exciting mix of local and Mediterranean wine regions to pair with the bold tastes on the menu.
Experience the seasons of Northern California as they come to life at the Michelin-rated Napa Valley restaurant: Solbar. Casual but savvy. Relaxed but refined. Solbar at the Solage Calistoga Hotel & Spa serves up bistro fare with true Napa Valley flair. Executive Chef Brandon Sharp turns farm-fresh, seasonal ingredients into unique, flavorful and surprising dishes that reflect the best Napa Valley has to offer. Guest can enjoy the woodsy-chic vibe inside, or be tempted outdoors to spacious terraces where you can dine or relax with drinks by the fire while taking in the stunning mountain views.