California has an incredible seven three-star Michelin Restaurants within its borders, making it one of the world’s food capitals. Wealthy patrons from around the globe fly to the state every year to sample local chefs’ latest creations. Luxury motorcoaches with private drivers pick them up in San Francisco and take them on tours of nearby culinary delights.
But where should you go? That’s the topic of this page. Here, we run through a list of five impeccable restaurants that stand out from the rest.
1. Atelier Crenn, San Francisco, California
Atelier Crenn opened under the stewardship of Dominique Crenn in 2011. It was a way for the prodigal chef to celebrate her French culinary heritage and share it with the community. She now owns several three-Michelin-starred restaurants in the local area.
The word “atelia” is French for workshop or studio. As such, Crenn sees her culinary creations less as cooking and more as alchemy. Her restaurants are not afraid to try new flavors or take on new challenges in their attempts to craft “culinary poetry.”
Incredibly, Atelier Crenn achieved Michelin star status within a year of opening. It received its second Michelin star in 2012, earning the third in 2018. Crenn was the first female U.S. chef in history to achieve the accolade.
During the pandemic, Crenn continued to refine her processes and techniques. In 2021, she received the World’s 50 Best Icon Award, putting her establishment firmly in the top restaurants globally.
2. Single Thread, Healdsburg, California
Located at 131 North Street, Healdsburg, Single Thread is one of California’s most celebrated three Michelin-starred restaurants, growing 70 percent of its produce on its organic farm. The establishment is famous for its Japanese cuisine and adherence to the omotenashi philosophy – or the principle of meeting guests’ every need.
Kyle Connaugton, one of America’s most accomplished chefs, runs a restaurant with his wife, Katina. Their pair tune their menu to reflect the seasons in Sonoma County, only providing their guests with local in-season delicacies. During the spring, guests enjoy smoked Ora king salmon with myoga and arctic char roe. Later in the year, the menu switches to pumpkin tartare, Dungeness crab, and miso-makrut lime foam.
The Connaugtons are experts in Japanese clay pot cooking, introducing guests to black cod served over a broth of ember fish bones. The entire experience is genuinely other-worldly.
3. The French Laundry, Yountville, California
Perhaps the most famous three-Michelin-starred restaurant in California, The French Laundry continues to wow guests and never misses a beat. As such, it deserves its title as one of the best cooking spaces in the U.S.
Chef Thomas Keller’s dream to open an exceptional restaurant began in 1990 on a trip to Yountville. The aspirational food wizard wanted to establish a French fine dining destination in the Napa Valley to complement its fabulous winegrowing.
The French Laundry was originally a steam laundry. Keller purchased it from the then-local mayor, Don Schmitt, in 1994 and transformed it into the establishment food critics love today.
The French Laundry achieved three Michelin stars (the organization’s highest rating) in 2007, making chef Thomas Keller the only American-born chef to have two three-starred restaurants in the country that year. Since this honor, the restaurant has won numerous other accolades, including the Wine Spectator Grand Award and the James Beard Outstanding Restaurant Award.
4. Manresa, Los Gatos, California
Manresa in the Bay Area specializes in contemporary food, introducing guests to stunning dishes unavailable elsewhere. The establishment’s success stems from the leadership and philosophy of executive head chef David Kinch. He believes that if you “focus first on the process, the work, and the craft, the recognition will follow.” And that’s what’s happened.
In addition to three Michelin stars, Kinch earned the title of the number 23 chef in Le Chef magazine’s international list of culinary talent, as voted by other Michelin star chefs globally Atelier Crenn. Consequently, Manresa now ranks in the top ten of La Liste’s best thousand food establishments anywhere on the planet.
Going to Manresa is a theatrical experience. Guests don’t know what food they will eat until it arrives on the table. Chef Kinch makes all dishes cerebral yet approachable. Crowd favorites include red-pepper pates de fruits and saffron bouillabaisse topped with crisp brioche wafers.
5. Benu, San Francisco, CA
Lastly, we have Benu in the center of bustling San Francisco. This restaurant pursues excellence relentlessly, attempting to redefine and perfect dishes with every passing season.
Diners begin the experience by enjoying various “small bites” – highly technical dishes designed to introduce guests to the chefs’ skills. Examples include shark fin and xiao long bao. They then move onto a range of main courses, each with a twist. Good examples include a unique take on Korean beef and signature barbecued quail with XO sauce.
Chef Corey Lee doesn’t rest on his laurels. He continues to invent and reimagine dishes, developing new flavors it is hard to find elsewhere.
Benu offers a fixed menu comprising seafood and vegetables (with a few meat and sweet dishes). The restaurant recommends setting aside at least three hours for dinner and asks guests to let it know before they arrive if they have eaten its menu before so they can try something new.
Hiring A Motorcoach Is the Best Way to Enjoy California’s Three Star Michelin Restaurants
Touring five of California’s three-star Michelin restaurants is easy when you hire a motorcoach with a private driver. A Motorcoach rental allows you to visit multiple restaurants in style and comfort. You also have the option of staying at luxury resorts nearby and enjoying numerous amenities and activities before your dinner reservations become available.
LiTRV offers a variety of luxurious motor coaches you can hire for weeks at a time. They meet local motorcoach resort requirements and come with a private driver, reducing stress, and letting you enjoy your gastronomic experience even more. They will also escort you and pick you up directly from each restaurant on your list. This way, you can wine and dine without considering transport afterward.
Call today and experience the comfort and excitement of touring three-star Michelin restaurants in a luxury coach provided by LiTRV.