The Michelin Guide is best known for honoring fancy restaurants with carefully plated dishes, haute cuisine and amuse bouches. But if all that sounds like it isn’t your style (or isn’t in your budget), the prestigious food guide also has some recommendations for taquerias and sandwich spots.
Michelin, a French tire company, originally created its famous guidebook as a way to help drivers find good spots to eat along road trips. It awards stars – one, two or three of them – to restaurants that are best in class.
But Michelin also has a lesser-known award called the Bib Gourmand, which goes to restaurants Michelin inspectors believe are the “best value for money.”
What is considered a good “value” depends on an area’s cost of living, but Michelin says you should typically expect to find a three-course meal for under $50 at one of its Bib Gourmand picks.
This month, 10 more California restaurants with a diversity of cuisines were added to the list of relatively affordable finds. Included among them are three Mexican restaurants, a Taiwanese spot, homestyle Portuguese cooking, a buzzy natural wine bar (with snails), and a restaurant that takes inspiration from around Southeast Asia.
At Bansang on Fillmore in San Francisco, you can find a soy lime glazed fried chicken dish that is “so good you’ll want to discard any idea of sharing,” the Michelin Guide says. That small plate costs $13.
Bombera, in a former Oakland fire station, serves a “beautifully rendered duck leg confit, paired with a delightfully complex, nutty mole verde, just-right black beans and handmade blue corn tortillas” for $27.
One restaurant on the list, Carnes Asadas Pancho Lopez, doesn’t even have walls, according to the Michelin Guide.
“Humble doesn’t even begin to describe this open-air restaurant, which has no walls and is seemingly built out of corrugated metal. But what comes out of the kitchen is anything but simple,” they write, recommending customers try the barbacoa and spicy salsa. Tacos go for $2.50 each.
Another honoree was Mabel’s Gone Fishing in San Diego, which stuns diners with its swordfish schnitzel ($32) and gin cocktails ($15).
The new “value” restaurants added to the 2023 Michelin Guide in California are:
- Bansang (San Francisco)
- Bombera (Oakland)
- Carnes Asadas Pancho Lopez (Los Angeles)
- Cobi’s (Santa Monica)
- Eat Joy Food (San Gabriel Valley)
- Mabel’s Gone Fishing (San Diego)
- Maligne (Seaside)
- Petiscos (San Jose)
- Snail Bar (Oakland)
- Villa’s Tacos (Los Angeles)
If money is no object, you might prefer one of the newly awarded Michelin-star restaurants. Six more restaurants around the state earned their first star: Auro in Calistoga; Aphotic and Nari in San Francisco; Chez Noir in Carmel; Heritage in Los Angeles; and Valle in San Diego.