Restaurants with 3 Michelin stars are hard to find and it’s even harder to book a table there. There are currently only 14 such places in the US, and, unfortunately, neither of them is located in San Diego. However, half of them are in California. Still, the city has a one-star restaurant and other establishments regarded by the Guide as “hidden gems.”
Like its older brothers, Los Angeles and San Francisco, San Diego’s food scene is a cultural mix. The numerous farms around the city provide fresh produce while the nearby water offers some excellent seafood for the city’s vast array of restaurants. The culinary scene has been dramatically influenced by immigrants, from the Mexican style that comes from the border city Tijuana, located just a few miles south of San Diego, which is also the birthplace of the famous Ceaser’s Salad, to the Italian cuisine which was brought here over a century ago by the first immigrants. Lastly, in recent years, San Diego has earned the unofficial title of beer capital of the United States, with over 130 breweries located throughout the city.
Addison, operated by chef William Bradley, is the only restaurant in San Diego with a Michelin star. Located just outside the city, at Hotel Fairmont Grand Del Mar, the restaurant offers a flawless fine dining experience. From the location to the ambiance, service, and food, everything is impeccable.
At Addison, you have 2 tasting menus to choose from, one with 5 courses, which costs $185 per person, and one with 10 courses at $275 per person. Both can be paired at an extra cost and you also have the option to switch to Waygu beef, which is flown from Japan. Both menus are delicious, to say the least. The food prepared by chef William Bradley is amazing and the wine pairing only enhances the experience. You won’t want the evening to end.
William Bradley is considered one of the best chefs in the United States. Before his position at Addison, he worked at the acclaimed Vu restaurant at the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa. While there, he was nominated for the James Beard “Rising Star Chef” award for 3 straight years. He arrived at Addison in 2006, and ever since, he won award after award. Besides being the first and only restaurant in San Diego with a Michelin star, Addison has been awarded 5 stars by Forbes Travel Guide and 5 diamonds by AAA every year. In 2014, chef Bradley won Robb Report Culinary Master Competition.
The restaurant offers, by far, the best dining experience in all of Southern California. Sure, it is a bit expensive, especially if you go with the 10-course menu, wine pairing, and the Waygu beef, but you just have to try the food there. It’s like nothing you’ve ever tasted.
Juniper & Ivy
Another great fine-dining destination when it comes to fine-dining is Juniper & Ivy. Located in San Diego’s Little Italy, the restaurant offers is renowned for its American cuisine and, in 2019, received a Bib Gourmand from the Michelin Guide. Juniper & Ivy has an a la carte menu, which is constantly changing to take advantage of all the seasonal produce the local farms have to offer.
As soon as you walk into the restaurant, you’ll be blown away by the stylish decor. The staff is professional and friendly and ready to offer you some recommendations.
The food is absolutely delicious, and when you pair it with something from their award-winning wine list, the experience becomes unforgettable. Because of their ever-changing seasonal menu, Juniper & Ivy manages to surprise you every time you visit. It’s like reliving your first experience over and over again, something not many restaurants can achieve.
Besides the recognition by the Michelin Guide, Juniper & Ivy has been named the best restaurant in San Diego by almost every local publication and even some national ones ever since it opened in 2014.
All in all, Juniper & Ivy, although expensive, is a top destination for every foodie in San Diego. It’s probably the second-best restaurant in the city, after Addison, and it shouldn’t surprise anyone if, in the near future, it will receive its first Michelin Star.
For over 50 years, Mister A’s has been one of San Diego’s best fine-dining destinations. The restaurant is a penthouse located near the downtown area and offers a breathtaking view of both the city’s skyline and the bay.
At Mister A’s, you can enjoy some of the best modern American cuisine in the country. It has an a la carte menu with dinner courses, for example, ranging between $25 and $60. All the produce comes from local farms and is hand-selected by the restaurant’s culinary staff to offer you the best dishes possible. On top of these, you can pick from a wide selection of cocktails which are hand-crafted by some of the best bartenders in San Diego, as well as some a bottle from one of Wine Spectator’s top-rated wine lists in the country.
When you step out of the elevator, you’ll be immediately blown away by both the decor and the view. The staff is very professional and will help you make the best selections. No matter what you pick, you won’t be disappointed. After all, you can’t be one of the city’s top dinner destinations if the food isn’t fabulous.
Although the restaurant hasn’t won any awards, it is often mentioned in the media as one of the best places to dine in San Diego.
Although you won’t find any 3 Michelin star restaurants in San Diego, there are still some great places to enjoy memorable culinary experiences. Addison is, without a doubt, the city’s best restaurant, but there are other great places where you can enjoy some top-quality dishes, like Mister A’s and Juniper & Ivy. If you’re a foodie and you’re planning on going to San Diego any time soon, you’ll have plenty of choices to spoil your taste buds.