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The Hypothetical Los Angeles Michelin Guide, 2017-2018

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Yet another installment of fictional Red Guide for LA

Dialogue, Santa Monica’s fine dining tiny Michelin-starred restaurant, with dark wood tables and lots of grey.
Dialogue, Santa Monica
Wonho Frank Lee
Matthew Kang is the Lead Editor of Eater LA. He has covered dining, restaurants, food culture, and nightlife in Los Angeles since 2008. He's the host of K-Town, a YouTube series covering Korean food in America, and has been featured in Netflix's Street Food show.

This is the third year of the annual hypothetical Michelin Guide for Los Angeles. Reader please take note: this is not a real Michelin guide, so please don’t take it too seriously. However, the listings are based on one editor’s opinion, and it’s based on Michelin-level meals around the world.

There’s another perspective on this particular approach to LA’s hypothetical Michelin guide: it’s based on a bit of a looser interpretation of the star system. As the guide has expanded across the globe into places like Seoul, Bangkok, and smaller cities/countries in Europe, it’s clear that more lower end restaurants are seemingly eligible for a vaunted one star ranking.

There’s now a street food stall in Bangkok with one star. There are multiple ramen restaurants in Tokyo with one star. There’s a hawker stall in Singapore with a Michelin star. While we’re not quite ready to give Guerrilla Tacos a Michelin Star (though that would be wild), it does mean that the American and Asian Michelin Guides tend to take a bit more liberty with its one star ranking, hence places like Bestia, Son of a Gun, and Animal landing at a one-star level for LA.

In cities like Tokyo, there are 234 total restaurants with stars, and 12 three-star establishments. Los Angeles certainly doesn’t have the extreme number of pricey restaurants that Tokyo boasts, nor does it amass quite as much culinary wealth as say, Hong Kong, or even Chicago. But Los Angeles is quickly becoming a major player in the global restaurant scene, with places like Vespertine and Dialogue opening in the past year.

Now, will the Michelin Guide ever come back to Los Angeles? Most chefs and industry professionals do want it to come back to LA.

Here are a few notes on the new entrants:

  • Urasawa is back after missing last year’s hypothetical guide. The controversial high-end omakase restaurant in Beverly Hills closed briefly last year but reopened quietly in its Rodeo Drive perch. When the guide was last in LA back in 2010, it held two stars. It returns to the list with two stars.
  • Dialogue, Vespertine, and Sushi Ginza Onodera all land on this year’s hypothetical list with two stars. Onodera holds two stars in New York, so it makes sense to have the ritzy LA outlet hold the same. Vespertine could potentially be a three star, but the guide rarely puts new places that high in its first year. Same goes with Dialogue, which has been very highly lauded from critics in its first few months.
  • This year’s new one stars are: Felix, Rossoblu, Kali, Kismet, Rosaliné, and Raku. All exhibit consistent cuisine that are “very good” in their categories, which is the criteria for one stars in the guide.
  • Rustic Canyon returns after a year off, with Jeremy Fox continuing to display stellar vegetable-driven cuisine in Santa Monica.

Three stars:


Two stars:

Dialogue (new)




Sushi Ginza Onodera (newly listed)

Trois Mec


Q Sushi

Sushi Zo

Nozawa Bar

Vespertine (new)

Urasawa (returns)

One star:



The Bazaar


Broken Spanish




Felix (newly listed)


Kali (newly listed)

Kismet (newly listed)

Le Comptoir


Mori Sushi

Night + Market Song

Osteria Mozza

Orsa & Winston

Raku (newly listed)


Rossoblu (newly listed)

Rosaliné (newly listed)

Rustic Canyon (relisted)


Shunji (previously two stars)


Son of a Gun


Taco Maria

The Tasting Kitchen

Unlisted: Gjelina, Szechuan Impression, Kiriko, Ink