The new California Michelin Guide — with its updated star ratings — is set for release next week, just seven months after the last guide's delayed release. And today four Bay Area restaurants have been added to the Bib Gourmand roster of semi-affordable eats.
The rules for Bib Gourmand inclusion — an honor that's kind of like a step above mere Michelin Guide inclusion but a step below one-star status, denoting a high-value proposition at a decent price — are that diners should be able to order two courses and a glass of wine, or a dessert, for $49 or less, pre-tip. The cutoff was, for too many years, $40, which has become untenable in the Bay Area above the level of taquerias and the like — and even $49 feels like a stretch when many entrees top $40 at mid-range spots. (The cutoff sum generally has to be achieved with some clever math, using, say, the cheapest "snack" item on the menu and an inexpensive dessert.)
In late 2022, three Bay Area additions were added to the last guide which are presumably still on the list: Liholiho Yacht Club's sister restaurant Good Good Culture Club, North Beach upscale brunch/brunch-for-dinner spot Hilda and Jesse, and Jo’s Modern Thai in Oakland.
Today, the Michelin folks announced the newest additions, which include four Bay Area spots:
SF's Bansang, which inspectors praised for its "cooking [which] is an unapologetically contemporary take on Korean cuisine, readily incorporating ingredients like parmesan cheese and chorizo into the likes of kimchi fried rice or crispy rice cakes..."
Oakland's popular Snail Bar, of which inspectors say, "Although it would be easy to dismiss this perpetually buzzy spot as just another cooler-than-thou hipster haunt for natural wine, here you’ll find some of Oakland’s most exciting and well-crafted cooking."
Oakland contemporary Mexican spot Bombera, where inspectors praise "Chef Dominica Rice-Cisneros, whose passion has helped to shape Oakland’s current Mexican restaurant scene, combining a locavore pedigree and fine-dining chops with a respect for the generational knowledge of heritage cooking."
San Jose's Portuguese spot Petiscos, the sister restaurant of Michelin-starred Adega, where inspectors say "The rustic, home-style cooking includes favorites such as broa, a traditional cornbread, and lupini beans, codfish croquettes and a tender octopus salad that is a meal unto itself."
Six other SoCal restaurants join the Bib Gourmands as well.
"The inspection team and I are very excited about these 10 restaurants joining the wide array of Bib Gourmand restaurants already in the great state of California,” says Gwendal Poullennec, the international director of the Michelin Guides, in the announcement. "Foodies can enjoy fantastic local and international cuisines at an equally fantastic value."
The Michelin Guide's release party is in Oakland this year, at the Chabot Space & Science Center on July 18, after a couple of years of throwing the party in Southern California. (The guide began combining all of California together in 2019, after over a decade in which San Francisco had a guide dedicated to it but Los Angeles did not.)
There have not been too many splashy, high-profile openings in the seven months since the 2022 guide arrived, at least in the Bay Area, but there will be some intrigue about who may gain or lose a star this year, as there always is.
Cyrus, which had a big reopening last fall in Geyserville after a decade in hiatus following its closure in Healdsburg, earned an immediate one-star rating, and chef Douglas Keane no doubt would love to return to two-star status, which the restaurant once held.
The Bay Area remains well ahead of the rest of the state when it comes to three-star restaurants, with the lion's share of them all here: Atelier Crenn, Benu, The French Laundry, Manresa, Quince, and SingleThread.
Photo: Marjan Blan