The Michelin Guide was indispensable a few summers ago while my family and I were traveling through the French countryside. With so much written about Paris’ dining scene, it was easy to find highly-touted restaurants to explore while staying in the city. However, it became markedly more difficult to figure out where to eat as soon as we left the metropolis, especially without cell service or a French speaker in our group. We found ourselves driving for miles and miles, or rather kilometers and kilometers, through the rolling hills, vineyards, and farmlands of Provence, Burgundy, and Normandy, without running into a building that looked like a restaurant from the outside.
The faithful Michelin Guide led us to dining establishments that were hidden in plain sight, charming places that served regional specialties in done-up rooms, as well as simpler surroundings. There was Manoir de l’Acherie, a restaurant tucked inside an inn that added a splash of local cider into every course. And Les Terrasses de Corton, a Burgundian restaurant and winery run by a toque-wearing chef. It was not all grand tasting menus and white tablecloths, but the food was always good and we were grateful for the famed dining bible.
This is all to say: Michelin has a knack for finding mom and pops in France, but can they do the same in LA? The barriers I encountered as a tourist in France are likely faced by travelers to Los Angeles too. As much as our cities and cultures are profoundly different, it’s important to recognize our similarities — wide open roads lined with world-class restaurants that don’t always look the part.
If the Michelin Guide can open the eyes of travelers to the wonders of Los Angeles’ dining scene — taking out-of-towners to out-of-the-way dining rooms — then I consider it to be a win. The Michelin guide will not get everything right, but hopefully enough quirky gems make it onto the Bib Gourmand list, like Raffi’s in Glendale and Chengdu Taste in Alhambra, to give visitors a genuine taste of what makes Los Angeles’ dining scene truly special.