Guide to MICHELIN Star Restaurants - San Diego


When you think of San Diego, California, known appropriately as America’s Finest City, do you first think of beaches, baseball, or perhaps the bustling food scene that the city boasts?

MICHELIN stars are not an easy accolade to earn, and San Diego is home to 4 restaurants that have beaten the odds and been labeled as truly great fine dining experiences. Not only that but there are 8 more restaurants under the Bib Gourmand distinction, also given out by the MICHELIN inspectors.


From sitting down to enjoy delicious food at a California gastronomy to traversing San Diego for the best restaurant experience, this guide is a great starting place. So, let’s dive into the MICHELIN star portfolio of sunny San Diego.

San Diego Food Options


What Constitutes a MICHELIN Star Restaurant?


San Diego is home to not 1, not 2, and not even 3…but to 4 MICHELIN Star restaurants. You may have heard of this famous designation but wonder what exactly it means.


MICHELIN Stars and their relative meanings are a huge deal in the restaurant community, to say the least.


Earning a MICHELIN Star means that your restaurant has been sampled multiple times by undercover MICHELIN inspectors to judge different criteria. Earning a MICHELIN Star tells the world that a restaurant has outstanding cooking practices, exceptional cuisine, a delightful dining experience, and meets 5 main criteria.


A MICHELIN Star restaurant must have quality ingredients, a harmony of flavors, mastery of techniques, a chef’s personality expressed through their cuisine, and consistency across the menu and over time.



A restaurant that has top-quality ingredients and dishes that are distinctly flavorful with consistent preparation at a high standard will be likely to receive 1 MICHELIN Star.



Once the personality and talent of the chef can be distinctly seen in the crafting of their dishes, which are refined and inspired, the restaurant will be moving into 2 MICHELIN Star territory.

Three MICHELIN Stars

Finally, there are chefs that are at the peak of their profession, creating superlative dishes and experiences. These chefs create dishes that are bound to become classics thanks to elevated cooking practices bordering on an art form, and it is then that a restaurant may receive 3 MICHELIN Stars.


Often, after earning the first Star, restaurants will be re-evaluated to receive a second Star or third Star. However, receiving one's first MICHELIN Star is a wildly special award that restaurants yearn for.


What Defines the Bib Gourmand Criteria?


Not everything is meant to be geared toward dining experiences of the finest quality. After all, this adds a hefty price tag, long waits, and often, less accessible eats.


So, the MICHELIN Guide opts to give out Bib Gourmand distinctions, referring to the feeling of satisfaction at a reasonable price that is expected of these spots.


In the United States, the general rule of thumb for a Bib Gourmand restaurant is that it should allow patrons to order 2 courses, a glass of wine, and a dessert for under $40. Sound like a steal? Well, in today’s economy… it is!

This is a great distinction to reference when looking for some of the best food in San Diego at a price that won’t put you painfully over budget.


The 4 San Diego Restaurants with MICHELIN Stars


There are currently 4 restaurants in San Diego with MICHELIN Stars, 3 of which have 1 Star and, inversely, 1 of which has 3 Stars.


Addison Restaurant


Chef: William Bradley

Type of Cuisine: Contemporary

Location: Del Mar

Price: $$$$


Chef William Bradley has brought Del Mar’s favorite contemporary dining experience to new heights, earning Addison Restaurant 3 MICHELIN Stars.


Chef Bradley’s cooking is truly one-of-a-kind, especially as Addison is Southern California’s first and only three-star MICHELIN restaurant. Located in San Diego's Carmel Valley, Addison makes not only Del Mar but an even larger portion of San Diego proud.


The basis of these 3 MICHELIN Stars can be found in the nine-course tasting menu that is offered at $355 a person and can be enhanced by wine pairings from the extensive wine list with each course.

Three Stars is an impressive award, to say the least, but you won't be surprised that the praise is so high once you step inside this world-class dining destination.



Sushi Tadokoro


Chef: Takeaki Tadokoro

Type of Cuisine: Japanese

Location: Old Town

Price: $$$


Owner and executive chef Takeaki Tadokoro along with young chef Tatsuro Tsuchiya has done incredible things with Sushi Takodoro, earning the Old Town Japanese joint 1 MICHELIN Star.

The focus of this spot is to prepare the best of Japanese cuisine, creating traditional style sushi, known as Edo-mae, and using the best ingredients, hours of preparation, and homemade recipes.


Make a reservation for this mini counter space so that you can enjoy your omakase-style Japanese cuisine. The space is small, which offers an intimate dining experience but extremely limited seating options.



Soichi Sushi


Chef: Soichi Kadoya

Type of Cuisine: Japanese

Location: University Heights

Price: $$$$



A post shared by Soichi (@soichisushi)

Chef Soichi Kadoya’s namesake Soichi Sushi restaurant brings the Japanese restaurant game of University Heights to a new standard, especially after earning 1 MICHELIN Star.


Not only does Soichi Sushi have excellent cooking, but the omakase-style menu is customized for each seating thanks to daily changes in the farm-to-table and sea-to-table.


Make sure to reserve your seating far in advance to make sure you get a chance to enjoy the acclaimed Soichi Sushi dishes and dining experience.



Jeune et Jolie


Chef: Eric Bost

Type of Cuisine: French

Location: Carlsbad

Price: $$$


Chef Eric Bost has elevated Carlsbad’s community-favorite French spot, Jeune et Jolie, to greatness as it boasts 1 MICHELIN Star.


Try their $105 4-course tasting menu or opt for the à la carte offerings. The motto of this location is to celebrate the ordinary as well as the special occasions, and you’ll find that Jeune et Julie does a wonderful job of highlighting this ethos.

If French cuisine MICHELIN-rated restaurants in San Diego are your thing, Jeune et Jolie is for you.


8 San Diego Bib Gourmand Restaurants Designated by the MICHELIN Guide


Not only does San Diego boast 4 MICHELIN Star restaurants, but it is also home to 8 Bib Gourmand restaurants as well, bringing exceptional dining at a lower price point to America’s Finest City.


Kettner Exchange

Chef: Brian Redzikowski

Type of Cuisine: American Contemporary

Location: Little Italy

Price: $$


Chef Brian Redzikowski takes American contemporary dining to a new level with the food at Little Italy’s ever-popular Kettner Exchange.


Try the Roasted Chinese Eggplant, Whipped Buttermilk Ricotta, Sonoma Lamb Szechuan Noodles, or the Niman Ranch Pork Chop.



Chef: Drew Bent

Type of Cuisine: Mexican

Location: East Village

Price: $


Chef Drew Bent works to bring authentic Mexican dishes with a contemporary twist to San Diego’s East Village at Lola55.


Try the Elote Salad, Squa-shroom or Smoked Carnitas Tacos, or the Panko Fried Eggplant & Mushroom Mole. This Mexican cuisine is taken to a whole new level, even in southern California.


Morning Glory

Chef: Jason McLeod

Type of Cuisine: American

Location: Little Italy

Price: $$


Chef Jason McLeod works as the executive chef along with a stacked kitchen team of top-notch chefs to add to the quirky ambiance of Morning Glory and create impeccable contemporary food.


Try the Turkish Eggs, Breakfast Dim Sum, Khachapuri, or the Souffle Pancakes.


Ciccia Osteria

Chef: Mario Cassineri & Francesca Penoncelli  

Type of Cuisine: Italian, Milanese

Location: Barrio Logan

Price: $$


Chefs Mario Cassineri and Francesca Penoncelli work together beautifully to bring authentic Italian cuisine to Barrio Logan at Ciccia, which translates to a term like ‘sweetie’ in Italian.


Try the Mafalde Ragu dell’Aia, the Peperonata di Nonna Elvira, the Truffle Mushrooms, or the Tricolore Salad.




Chef: Cesarina Mezzoni

Type of Cuisine: Italian

Location: Point Loma

Price: $$


Chef Cesarina Mezzoni’s namesake restaurant, Cesarina, does a wonderful job of honoring the Italian matriarchy through their fresh Italian dishes, which are all made in-house.


Try the Cozze, Fagioli, e Nduja, the Polpo Croccante, the Insalata Radicchio, Speck, e Gorgonzola, and make your own pasta combination.


Solare Ristorante

Chef: Filippo Piccini

Type of Cuisine: Italian, Tuscan

Location: Liberty Station

Price: $$


Chef Filippo Piccini embodies the Tuscan feel of Solare Lounge, Liberty Station’s best Italian spot, undeniably well.


Try the Ravioli di Aragosta, Bruschetta alla Mano, Pescato del Giorno, or the Lasagna Tradizionale.



Cucina Urbana

Chef: Tim Kolanko

Type of Cuisine: Italian

Location: Banker’s Hill

Price: $$


Chef Tim Kolanko has helped bring this Urban Kitchen Group restaurant to its full glory. Cucina Urbana is well-known by many San Diegans, and for great reason. The intuitive, seasonal menu speaks volumes and keeps guests coming right on back.


Try the Fried Squash Blossoms, Ribeye Carpaccio, Bucatini Amatriciana, Clam Linguine, or Cucina Burger.



Callie Restaurant

Chef: Travis Swikard

Type of Cuisine: Mediterranean, Middle Eastern

Location: East Village

Price: $$


Executive chef Travis Swikard has done exceptionally well with Callie, his first solo restaurant, putting it on the map as the go-to Mediterranean spot for many.


Try the Babaganoush, Japanese Kanpachi, Lemon Saffron Linguine, or Harissa Lamb Chops.


Wrapping Up


Choosing a place to eat in San Diego is never an easy feat, thanks to all the award-winning, 5-star restaurants, fun local spots, popular new pop-ups, and MICHELIN Star or Bib Gourmand designations.


We hope this list gives you some inspiration for your next San Diego meal, and that you get to try new food, one way or another!


There are plenty of other San Diego restaurants providing diners with a special journey and finding their own voice. Names like Eric Wolfinger, Thomas Keller of French Laundry, and others should be on your list of San Diego chefs to watch.


Tried any of these spots? Let us know your thoughts!