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The Hypothetical Los Angeles Michelin Guide, 2018-2019

A fictional take on the Red Guide in Los Angeles

Modern plating at Vespertine.
Dish at Vespertine
Anne Fishbein
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 fourth year of the annual hypothetical Michelin Guide for Los Angeles (here’s last year’s). 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.

Here are a few notes on the new entrants:

  • Vespertine gets the upgrade from a two to a three Michelin star restaurant. It’s still one of the most ambitious restaurants in recent LA history and the food borders on maniacally inventive to the outright twisted (yet still pretty delicious). It’s LA’s future entrant to the World’s 50 Best restaurant list (my prediction) and deserves to be on there, based on the numerous other restaurants I’ve visited on that coveted (and ridiculous) list.
  • Somni is a new two star entrant but could potentially reach three stars if it really pushes. Right now it starts on the list at two but is already in the echelon of most interesting avant-garde restaurants in LA at the moment.
  • The rest of the list doesn’t move around too much. Some unlisted spots include Melisse and Spring, which are either close shortly or are already closed. Others are still good restaurants, but don’t fit the bill for a one star anymore. Spago and Q Sushi are relegated to one star.
  • In terms of new one star restaurants, Majordomo and Bavel are two places that opened this year that deserve to be in that conversation while Bistro Na’s, Kato, Here’s Looking at You, Otium, and Scratch Bar come into the fold. They’re all excellent places with unique perspectives and consistent food.
  • The rumors of the Michelin Guide returning to LA are at a feverish point right now. Given the amount of chatter behind kitchen doors, it seems inevitable that the guide will come back to LA given its dynamic and compelling restaurant scene.

Three stars:


Vespertine (up from two stars)

Two stars:



Nozawa Bar


Somni (newly listed)

Sushi Ginza Onodera

Sushi Zo

Trois Mec


One star:

Alimento (newly listed)



Bavel (newly listed)

The Bazaar


Bistro Na’s (newly listed)

Broken Spanish




Here’s Looking at You (newly listed)


Kato (newly listed)


Le Comptoir


Majordomo (newly listed)

Mori Sushi

Osteria Mozza

Orsa & Winston

Otium (newly listed)




Rustic Canyon

Scratch Bar (newly listed)



Sotto (closed since 2019)

Taco Maria