The 2023 edition of the MICHELIN Guide California features 143 Bib Gourmand restaurants, including 10 making their debut on the list.
This announcement precedes California’s MICHELIN Guide Ceremony on Tuesday, July 18, in Oakland.
Bib Gourmand restaurants offer a meal of good quality at a good value.
“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,” said Gwendal Poullennec, the International Director of the MICHELIN Guides. “Foodies can enjoy fantastic local and international cuisines at an equally fantastic value. There’s so much to discover at these eateries – go explore!”
Here are the new Bib Gourmand restaurants, with excerpts of the inspector notes:
Bansang (San Francisco; Korean cuisine)
The name references the traditional style of serving a communal Korean meal, which dates back centuries to the Joseon royal court, but there’s nothing remotely old-fashioned or stuffy about a meal here. The cooking 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, fitting together seamlessly beside more classic offerings like mulhwe, a dish of raw seafood with a chilled fermented chili broth.
Bombera (Oakland; Mexican cuisine)
Fire provides the central motif for this boisterous community staple, from the venue itself (a former fire station) to the name (Spanish for fire woman), all the way to a crackling wood-fired oven that not only animates the kitchen, but also provides ash used to nixtamalize corn for house-made masa. All of this seems perfectly fitting for 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.
Carnes Asadas Pancho Lopez (Los Angeles; Mexican cuisine)
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. In quiet Lincoln Heights, find a limited menu that excels in tender, stewed meats and soulful soups. The chef mines the memories of his hometown of Jalisco with carne en su jugo, a superb, meaty soup made from tomatillos, bacon, pinto beans and beef. Birria en consommé is another warming, brothy hit, packing in more delicacy and nuance than the typical effort.
Cobi’s (Santa Monica; Asian cuisine)
Discover Thai and Malaysian delights along with other influences on this broad Southeast Asian menu. Start with dumplings, satay or curry puffs, those crispy triangular shells filled with curried split peas and potatoes sided by pickled onion and tamarind ketchup. From there, pick a curry or a wood-grilled main dish such as grilled prawns in a ginger and yellow bean sauce. Prix fixe options include a smattering of dishes selected by the chef.
Eat Joy Food (Rowland Heights; Taiwanese cuisine)
This Taiwanese favorite lives up to its name. On smooth warehouse floors, the tables are generously spaced, but the menu is like a tome, dense with a wealth of seafood preparations, delicately flavored consommés and classic rice dishes. Three cup chicken braised with garlic, ginger and basil is an obvious order, as is the fantastic salty fish and chicken fried rice, the grains glossy and puffed in a hot wok. Regulars know to ask about dragon whiskers, a seasonal green that rounds out the meal.
Mabel’s Gone Fishing (San Diego; Seafood)
Charm is in abundant supply at this popular gathering place, from the name and décor (both of which honor an owner’s beloved dog) to the easygoing, friendly staff. But it’s more than just window dressing that draws in the crowds. A focused menu highlights excellent local seafood with a simple-yet-satisfying approach that blends Californian and Iberian cuisine, and the results are undeniably delicious.
Maligne (Seaside; Californian cuisine)
The name means “clever” or “cunning,” but you don’t have to be a particularly sharp tool to appreciate the ample charms of this hip, easygoing Seaside gem. The menu draws on Italian-American and French classics (think chicken parm and asparagus with hollandaise), but the feel is thoroughly Californian, with a light, contemporary touch and spectacular local ingredients that make even all-too familiar dishes like Caesar salad memorable — a testament to Chef Klaus Georis’s extensive experience in fine dining.
Petiscos (San Jose; Portuguese cuisine)
Petiscos are as much a cultural reference as they are a small snack accompanied by drinks. They’re fun and approachable — designed to be shared among good friends and family — so it goes without saying that this spot, complete with a bar, knows how to welcome guests. Authentically prepared dishes highlight the flavors of Portugal and feature imported ingredients. 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.
Snail Bar (Oakland; Contemporary cuisine)
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. Chef Andres Giraldo Florez has worked in some of the world’s loftiest kitchens, and although the vibe here is unfussy, his fine dining chops are evident in every precise, flavorful dish. The concise menu changes frequently, but the namesake gastropod is always on offer, served in-shell, bathed in redolent garlic confit and cashew miso butter, topped with a coin of tangy kumquat.
Villa’s Tacos (Los Angeles; Mexican cuisine)
Sweet smoke from a roadside taco stand blows across the Highland Park parking lot, but the crowd gathered in front of Chef Victor Villa’s taqueria doesn’t budge. This brick-and-mortar marks a milestone for a chef who first started serving out of his grandmother’s house. The signature queso taco is instantly recognizable, built on a blue corn masa tortilla stacked with refried beans, onion, cilantro, guacamole, cotija cheese, crema and a melted skirt of Monterey Jack. Variations with asada and chorizo are favorites, with vegan options on offer as well.
The full list of Bib Gourmand restaurants will be available on guide.michelin.com and the MICHELIN Guide mobile app immediately after the MICHELIN Guide Ceremony next week.
The restaurants join the MICHELIN Guide selection of hotels, which features the most unique and exciting places to stay in California and across the world. Every hotel in the Guide is chosen for its extraordinary style, service, and personality — with options for all budgets — and each hotel can be booked directly through the MICHELIN Guide website and app. The MICHELIN Guide is a benchmark in gastronomy. Now it's setting a new standard for hotels.