When it comes to exclusive restaurants with Michelin stars, San Francisco has the second-highest number in the US, after New York City. San Fran has no less than 34 restaurants that have at least one star. Out of these, 3 have the highest number given by Michelin – 3. In other words, it is the West Coast destination for any foodie. Keep reading to find out which are the most exclusive restaurants in San Francisco.
San Francisco currently has over 3,500 restaurants, so you can’t take 2 steps without stumbling upon a small cafe or a world-class eatery. It is arguably the food capital of the US. Like all Californians, the restauranteurs here pride themselves on using fresh, local ingredients. The city has a diverse food culture, so you have to be pretty adventurous if you want to explore it fully.
Located in a historic 1907 brick and timber building in Jackson Square, Quince is one of the restaurants that received 3 stars by the Michelin Guide. Owned by chef Michael Tusk, this is an Italian inspired restaurant that was opened in 2003. More recently, the chef bought his own farm, în the vicinity of San Francisco, where he grows most of the ingredients used at the restaurant.
At Quince, you can pick from a 5-course and a 10-course menu. The smaller menu costs $195, while the second one is $298. Optional wine pairing is available for an extra $275 per person. For the menus, the chef dew his inspiration from the local ingredients of Northern California. The food is outstanding, with dishes ranging from simple to complex. All of them have incredible flavors and the wines they come with are perfectly paired. The service is impeccable, with staff that is professional, friendly, and very attentive. In fact, the service is considered to be the best in the entire Bay Area.
Since the restaurant’s opening in 2003, Quince and chef Michael Tusk won numerous accolades. The first Michelin star came in 2007, the second in 2014, and the third in 2017. In 2015, the restaurant received 4 stars from the San Francisco Chronicle. The newspaper also included Quince in its annual Top 100 Restaurants. Chef Michael Tusk won 2 James Beard Foundation Awards, Best Chef – Pacific in 2011, and Outstanding Chef in 2016.
Quince, although pricey, offers an unforgettable experience, so dinner there should definitely be on your to-do list the next time you visit the city. Everything about the restaurant fully deserves the 3 stars Michelin stars, from the ambiance to the service and, above all – the food.
Opened in 2011, Atelier Crenn is located on a steep hillside in Cow Hollow, San Francisco. Co-owned by chef Dominique Crenn, the restaurant invites you to taste a modern vision of fine French cuisine. In fact, Atelier Crenn is an homage to the chef’s father, who was also an artist. Besides the restaurant, Dominique Crenn also owns a wine bar, Bar Crenn, that is located right next door, as well as Petit Crenn and the Bleu Belle Farm, which grows most of the ingredients used by the chef.
The restaurant offers a 14-course tasting menu that highlights the produce and seafood of Northern California. The menu costs $365 per person, but for the wine pairing, you’ll have to pay extra. The dishes prepared here are some of the most original you’ve ever seen, as well as brimming with flavor. At Atelier Crenn, fine dining is an art, and, as the chef explains, the entire menu is a poem waiting for each guest.
The kitchen is run by Dominique Crenn, who is one of the best chefs in the world. She earned her first Michelin star in 2008 while working at Luce in San Francisco’s Intercontinental Hotel. Shortly after opening Atelier Crenn, she became the first woman to have 2 Michelin stars. In 2016 she was voted the best female chef in the world, and 2 years later, the restaurant received the 3rd star.
If you’re unable to book a table, you can still enjoy part of the Atelier Crenn experience in your own home. The restaurant offers the Crenn Kit Luxe, an 8-course menu that you can pick from the restaurant and reheat at home. Don’t worry; you’ll have access to multiple videos that will teach you everything.
The last 3 Michelin star restaurant in San Francisco is Benu. Opened in 2010 by chef Corey Lee in the heart of Soma, it offers a tasting menu that was influenced by many cultures, from Asian to Western, and revolves mostly around seafood. All of the dishes are exquisitely delicious, and one thing that separates Benu from the other exclusive restaurants in San Francisco is the fact that they are willing to change your menu if you’ve eaten there before.
The menu costs $325 per person, and you also have the option to choose a beverage pairing. Here, Benu stands out again, as it offers wine, beer, and sake as pairings for their menu.
The restaurant is run by chef Cory Lee, who has over 25 years of experience. Before opening Benu, he was head chef at The French Laundry in Napa Valley, where he received a James Beard Award. Lee’s creativity helped Benu quickly rise to fame. Besides the 3 stars from Michelin, the restaurant was also given 5 stars by Forbes Travel Guide, 5 diamonds from AAA, and was included in the 2019 list of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants.
All in all, Benu offers a great experience that’s definitely worth a try.
The San Francisco Bay Area is a must-see destination for all foodies. Out of the 14 restaurants with 3 Michelin stars, 6 are located here, with 3 in the heart of San Fran. This alone says a lot about the city’s food scene. Quince, Atelier Crenn, and Benu truly offer, just like the Michelin Guide states, “exceptional cuisine that is worth a special journey”. So, the next time you visit San Francisco, don’t forget to call in advance and book a table. You will not regret it nor forget the experience. If you are, however, looking to enjoy good food and fine dining options in the Golden state a little further South, click here to read about the TOP restaurants in San Diego