9 Can’t-Miss Michelin-Starred Restaurants in Los Angeles
The ultimate guide to the City of Angels’ most prestigious eateries
Considered one of the ultimate marks of success of a restaurant, the Michelin star is an award that serves to recognize the most exquisite and delicious eateries in the world. While Michelin is very secretive about the criteria it uses to evaluate chefs and their work, we do know that specially trained inspectors pay anonymous visits to restaurants all over the world, and what results are meticulous reviews rating the service, decor, and cuisine. Regardless of the process, it is safe to say that a Michelin-recognized restaurant is almost always worth the visit.
In 2019, Michelin published a guide specific to the state of California, awarding stars to 24 restaurants in Los Angeles. Here is a guide to the top nine to add to your LA restaurant bucket list.
Two Michelin Stars
5955 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA
Taking LA’s fine dining scene to new heights, Providence is considered by many to be the city’s best seafood restaurant. Hyper-modern from its decor to the experimental menu, Providence promises a sophisticated dining experience more than worth the price of admission. At this Melrose Ave hot spot, diners are offered a choice between two prix fixe menus priced at $200 and $250, respectively. The top-notch chef’s menu with optional wine pairing is surely the way to go if you’ve managed to make it on the reservations list.
The 11 main courses encompass everything from spiny lobster with coconut and curry to vermillion rockfish with sunchoke and fine herbs, as well as a cheese cart and two dessert courses. Each dish is unique and mysterious, artfully crafted and beautifully plated, and the warmth and friendliness of the staff and space make the entire experience utterly unintimidating.
3455 Overland Ave, Los Angeles, CA
At the helm of her namesake restaurant, Chef Niki Nakayama is an LA-born pioneer of the modern interpretation of kaiseki, a traditional Japanese culinary art form reflective of the ever-changing rhythms of the earth. Each dish at n/naka demands your attention and tells a story. Colorful and fresh ingredients sourced mostly from California, including from the restaurant’s own organic garden, adorn every plate of the 13-course tasting menu.
Even before the moment you step in the door, the experience feels personal. The restaurant confirms your menu selection days ahead of your reservation to ensure the highest quality ingredients are sourced for each guest, and upon arrival, you’ll see Chef Nakayama floating through the dining room, chatting with diners and making you feel like you’re part of a big, cozy dinner party. Working within the spirit of Japanese tradition, yet completely unbound by it, Chef Nakayama’s Chef’s Table-featured restaurant is sure to make for an unforgettable meal.
3599 Hayden Ave, Culver City, CA
If you’re looking for a departure from the norm when it comes to a restaurant experience, Vespertine in Culver City is a can’t-miss. While it is not everyone’s cup of tea, this immersive experience from LA Chef Jordan Kahn blends food, art, architecture, music, and sculpture to create something never before seen and straight out of the future. Vespertine remains a mystery, except for those who have already been inside.
The story begins with the building the restaurant is housed in, an undulating two-story structure divided into four levels and known as “The Waffle.” Ultramodern and striking, the structure sets the tone for what’s about to happen inside. Serving around 20 courses to the 22-seat dining room twice each evening, Vespertine throws tradition and culture to the wind with its innovative menu, which has featured unforgettable dishes like mussels with celery, sweet plantains topped with duck fat emulsion, and Dungeness crab with crisped duck skin and egg yolk. Vespertine will shatter your expectations of the fine dining experience, but it is worth a visit for those craving a little adventure and disruption in their everyday life.
465 La Cienega Blvd, Los Angeles, CA
From famed Chef José Andrés and his brigade of talented culinary geniuses at ThinkFoodGroup comes Somni, an intimate tasting counter inside Beverly Hills’ SLS hotel. Earning two out of the maximum three Michelin stars, the luxurious experience at Somni begins with the space’s design; polished marble and plush leather seats enveloped by curved oak walls and perfectly tuned lighting put the finishing touch on the effortlessly elegant room.
Defying the limits of personal dining, this 10-seat counter gives all patrons a front-row seat to the action with direct access to the artistry of the chefs, who not only prepare the 25-course meal but also engage their guests in casual conversation, narrating and explaining elements of the ever-evolving menu. Somni sets the stakes high with its passion for food, blending simple yet flavorful dishes with complex, over-the-top ingredient combinations that leave even experienced gourmands speechless. There are two seatings nightly and tickets go on sale the first Monday of every month for the following month.
One Michelin Star
3606 W 6th St, Los Angeles, CA
Putting a California casual spin on traditional French fine dining, Le Comptoir from Michelin-starred chef Gary Menes is a tiny 10-seat restaurant that feels more like a dinner party with friends than anything else. Guests line one side of a long wooden counter facing the kitchen as Menes and his two assistants whip up largely vegetable-based dishes that will make you want to consider vegetarianism. While a meat plus-up option is available for most dishes on the menu for those craving a bit more bite, the vegetables are cooked so expertly and prepared so artfully that the creamy purple asparagus veloute and haricot vert tempura will have you begging the chef for more.
Starting at $120, the eight-course prix fixe menu is always complemented by the season and is constantly changing. And at a fraction of the price of other comparable menus, you’ll leave feeling almost like you got away with something.
6602 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA
Serving comforting Italian cuisine from its iconic corner location on Melrose Ave, Osteria Mozza has been a hit and local LA favorite ever since it opened its doors over a decade ago. While Los Angeles isn’t exactly known for its Italian food, Osteria Mozza is, and it takes it seriously. Many will want to make a beeline for the pasta, but before you run, you need to learn to walk at the mozzarella bar. From the mozzarella tasting to the burrata and bacon with marinated escarole & caramelized shallots, you can’t go wrong. Next, be prepared to have your mind blown by perfectly cooked pasta, a luxury you didn’t even know you were missing out on: orecchiette with sausage & swiss chard, butternut squash tortelloni with dates & chestnuts, and browned butter ricotta & egg raviolo. Dive in!
While the pasta is the star, the bread is also to die for, and you’ll often spy patrons squirreling away a slice or two for safe eating later. You’d also be doing yourself a disservice if you don’t order the fried dough ‘bombolini’ filled with berry compote & lemon mascarpone for dessert. Despite it surely being classified as fine dining, at its core, this famed restaurant is laid back and welcoming whether you’re wearing a suit jacket or not.
1119 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA
For a classic California farm-to-table meal, look no further than Rustic Canyon in Santa Monica. With sleek, minimalistic decor and a menu stacked with seasonal dishes ranging from seafood to hearty salads, Rustic Canyon is the type of place to take a date or your in-laws to impress without being too obvious about it. Despite its Michelin star status, this low-key Westside classic doesn’t need any theatrics or gimmicks to grab your attention. The chefs’ simple attention to detail and deep care into where they source each ingredient are what have kept the crowds piling in for over a decade. Menu highlights include the pozole verde, garden of gem lettuce salad, California ribeye with Calabrian chili butter, and sourdough linguine with Baja scallops.
716 N Highland Ave, Los Angeles, CA
Named for the “three guys” at its helm—Chefs Ludo Lefebvre, Jon Shook, and Vinny Dotolo—Trois Mec offers a constantly changing multi-course tasting menu blending French-inspired dishes with a global perspective. Sisters with renowned Los Angeles hot spots Animal, Son of a Gun, Jon & Vinny’s and Petit Trois, Trois Mec’s kitchen is fueled by an LA-chef powerhouse and bolstered by a cozy yet contemporary dining room that you wouldn’t expect from the original Raffalo’s Pizza sign that still hangs above the door outside. One nightly tasting menu is available for seatings throughout the evening, and the 10 courses include canapés, larger dishes, and dessert that reflect the flavors of the season. With ambitious cuisine, a fun atmosphere and an unpretentious vibe, a night at Trois Mec is guaranteed to please.
212 S Beverly Dr, Beverly Hills, CA
From celebrity chef Curtis Stone comes Maude, his first solo restaurant named in honor of his grandmother, and a true labor of love from the Australian transplant. Having received numerous accolades since its opening in 2014, Maude was finally awarded a Michelin star in 2019, recognizing the high-end American eatery’s seasonally inspired tasting menu that draws its theme from a different wine region each quarter. From Spain’s Rioja to France’s Burgundy, the menu is structured around that specific culture and what will pair best with the food, traditions, and history of each territory. At Maude, straightforward dishes never feel ordinary, while complex and flavorful creations aren’t hard to come by. The dining room is intimate yet elegant, with deep blue leather chairs and booths enveloping guests and providing comfortable seating to observe the buzzing kitchen below.
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