Would you pay $500 for a fancy meal?

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Many of us associate Michelin stars with Europe and France in particular, the birthplace of the revered Michelin Guide and home to the largest number of Michelin restaurants in the world, where a fabulous Michelin meal can cost less than 30 euros (approx. $32).


But you don’t need to narrow your search to Europe if you want to enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime experience at a Michelin-starred establishment at an affordable price. Well, maybe not quite as affordable as in Europe, but pretty close nonetheless.


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Now, as pandemic restrictions have finally lifted and US leisure travel is back to normal, the timing couldn’t be more perfect to travel to California and enjoy everything that it has to offer in terms of food and wine. Because it has a lot to offer.


The fine dining business in the Golden State has continued to flourish and expand over the past few years, and now you have 89 Michelin-starred restaurants to choose from.


A total of 27 newly starred restaurants were promoted by Michelin Guide in 2021 alone, so foodies now have more options than ever, and the food quality is amazing. Michelin inspectors praised California as “an international culinary destination and leader of the industry.”


Couple all of that with some exquisite Californian wine and it’s clear that the Golden State’s Michelin restaurants should be your next foodie travel destination.

Ranking California’s Michelin star restaurants

What keeps a lot of people from trying out these exquisite venues is the fact that Michelin-starred restaurants are notoriously pricey. Many of us don’t even dare to dream about having dinner at one of these restaurants because we think ‘the more stars, the more expensive the dishes.’ That may be true in many cases, but you’ll be glad to learn that there are Michelin-starred restaurants in California that won’t lead to bankruptcy.


We analyzed the menus of all the restaurants in California boasting Michelin stars to see which are the priciest and which are the most affordable locations in 2022. Prices tend to change, sometimes even week to week, but this list should give you an idea of which restaurants are within your budget.

The Most Affordable Michelin-starred Restaurants in California

The Most Affordable Michelin-starred Restaurants in California

To find out which Michelin-starred restaurants in California are the most budget-friendly, we selected the most affordable three-course meals currently available. If you want to make sure that your Michelin-starred experience doesn’t break the bank, you just need to get creative.


In most cases, this means switching from a dinner date to a lunch date and trying out a restaurant’s  ‘menu of the day,’ when available. This is usually a much more affordable option than the regular tasting menu (See Methodology for the full breakdown).


San Francisco is a fantastic fine-dining destination. With 31 locations on the Michelin map, there is something out there for everyone and, believe it or not, it’s also home to more affordable options. In fact, 4 of the 10 most affordable Michelin star restaurants in California are located in San Francisco. 


The most affordable Michelin-starred restaurant in California is Mourad, in San Francisco. Located at the base of the landmark PacBell building, the city’s first skyscraper, Mourad is the hotspot for tech-savvy foodies and tourists alike.


Chef Mourad Lahlou loves to add local flavors into his delicious Moroccan-inspired dishes, which include couscous with savory brown butter and spicy harissa or Moroccan basteeya. The good news is that you don’t need to work in tech to be able to afford a night out at Mourad: the most affordable three-course menu can cost you as little as $45 per person – that’s a true bargain for a San Francisco Michelin-starred venue.


Rustic Canyon in Santa Monica is another Michelin-starred restaurant worth checking out if you’re on a slightly tighter budget. For just $47 per person, you get to enjoy absolutely delicious dishes by Chef Jeremy Fox and Executive Chef Andy Doubrava, in a picturesque, relaxed atmosphere.


The menu is heavily focused on local cuisine, with ingredients sourced from local farmers; notable dishes include roasted asparagus in cashew cream topped with grilled cherries, or smoked pork chop with trout rote- and raisin-studded beurre blanc. There are also great options for those of us with a sweet tooth.


Another great affordable option is Al’s Place, also in San Francisco, where a three-course experience can cost you just $48 per person. Boasting a relaxed vibe and a casual, friendly atmosphere, Al’s Place is the epitome of Cali living – and dining.


The food, prepared with gusto by Chef Aaron London, is focused mainly around a pescatarian philosophy, but there are also options for meat lovers. One can enjoy dishes such as blistered squash with pickled kohlrabi, hummus and burrata, cured trout, mashed turnips, and the chef’s signature French fries, which were even featured in the San Francisco Chronicle.


Moving a little further south, we have Soichi, a Michelin-starred restaurant located in San Diego, where a three-course menu can cost as little as $48 per person. This one is a great option for those who love traditional Japanese cuisine, serving sushi and sashimi prepared by Chef Soichi Kadoya.


It’s the best place in town if you’re looking to unwind and relax in an intimate atmosphere, and enjoy two omakase options, as well as several à la carte items. We recommend finishing your meal with the chef’s delicious homemade green tea ice cream; just thinking about it makes your mouth water.


Knife Pleat restaurant in Costa Mesa might be a little pricier compared to Mourad or Al’s Place, coming in at $61 per person for the cheapest three-course meal on the menu, but it’s definitely worth it. It’s a great place to unwind and fuel up after an intense shopping session at Louis Vuitton or Balenciaga, as the restaurant is located on the third floor of the South Coast Plaza shopping center.


The elegant location showcases Chef Tony Esnault’s delicious creations, which include French classics with a twist – imagine how a rhubarb sorbet with strawberry gelee would go after a long day of shopping and strolling under the hot Californian sun.

The Priciest Michelin-starred Restaurants in California

The Priciest Michelin-starred Restaurants in California

After checking out the least expensive Michelin-starred restaurants in Cali, it’s time to take it to the next level and look at the priciest options. If you’ve decided that you’re willing to splurge and make your night out a truly memorable experience, then these luxury restaurants are the way to go.


Once again, San Francisco offers the most options, housing 4 of the 10 priciest locations in the state, followed closely by Los Angeles, with 3.


The priciest Michelin-starred restaurant in California is the world-famous The French Laundry, located in Yountville, the heart of California’s Wine Country. Here you will get to enjoy some of the best wines – and dishes – in the world.


Yountville, while it manages to maintain a small-town atmosphere, is incredibly popular internationally among food lovers, as it’s home to two top-notch Michelin-starred restaurants: The French Laundry and Bouchon.


The French Laundry might not be a budget-friendly location, but if you’re looking to treat yourself, it will be worth it. You’d get to enjoy exquisite, three-Michelin-star-worthy dishes prepared by Chef Thomas Keller, who has a total of 7 (!) Michelin stars to his name.


And you might be surprised to learn that The French Laundry doesn’t come close the world’s most expensive Michelin restaurants – it only ranks 11th worldwide, far behind Shanghai’s Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet or NYC’s Masa.


If you’re not able to get a table at The French Laundry in due time, then you might want to give SingleThread a try. Located roughly an hour from Yountville in Healdsburg, SingleThread boasts three Michelin stars and menus that go as high as $425 per person.


Chef Kyle Connaughton delights the senses with his Japanese-inspired dishes, which pair beautifully with the exquisite wines of Napa Valley. The restaurant recently added a new hot pot-style menu dubbed Usu-Zan, which comes with four different options, including seafood, chicken and pork, ribeye and mushrooms, and seasonal vegetables. It’s definitely one to check off your bucket list.


The priciest Michelin star in San Francisco is Atelier Crenn, where one night out can cost you as much as $410 per person. Chef Dominique Crenn doesn’t need an introduction and she’s the only woman in the United States to attain three Michelin stars. To top it all off are pastry Chef Juan Contreras’ delights, which are a must if you’re visiting Atelier Crenn.


If you’re going to Hollywood and want to try out the priciest Michelin-starred restaurant in Los Angeles and maybe bump into some A-list celebrities, then Morihiro is your destination.


Chef Morihiro Onodera’s omakase is a wonderful treat for foodies, with ingredients mostly sourced directly from Japan, but it can cost you up to $400 per person. However, the restaurant offers some of the best sushi in Hollywood, prepared with homemade tofu, peak-season fruit, big eye tuna from Hawaii, and vegan mochi.


Sushi is hugely popular in California, and particularly in West Hollywood, where Sushi Ginza Onodera is located. This Michelin-starred restaurant offers Edomae-style sushi prepared by Chef Yohei Matsuki, who has his fish imported all the way from the Toyosu Fish Market in Tokyo.


In fact, this West Hollywood restaurant is a branch of the international Sushi Ginza Onodera brand, which first opened its doors to foodies in Japan. Although the food here boasts a hefty price tag, up to $400 per person for a meal, it’s definitely worth it. The restaurant is consistently featured among the best sushi spots in Los Angeles, and good news: there’s a strict no-tipping policy!


Chef’s Pencil analyzed menus from Michelin restaurants across California, to identify the priciest and the most affordable meals available right now (data collected from May 26 through June 2, 2022).


To select the most affordable restaurants, we chose the most affordable three-course meal on the menu. We chose the most affordable three-course meal on the à la carte menu, picking the cheapest appetizer (excl. olives and nut varieties), the cheapest main dish, and the cheapest dessert available. When available, we chose the menu of the day, which is usually offered at lunchtime.


For the most expensive rankings, we analyzed the top-priced meals available at Michelin restaurants across the state. The top tasting menu is usually 8-12 courses served at dinner. Some restaurants offer a single tasting menu or multiple menus that are priced identically.


This article originally appeared on ChefsPencil.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

More from MediaFeed:

These are America’s oldest operating restaurants


The restaurant business in the United States is notoriously competitive. Approximately 60% of new restaurants don’t survive more than a year in business, and 80% don’t last five years. And that was even before coronavirus caused an epidemic of restaurant closures, so even in normal times, it’s a tough racket.


Despite those daunting odds, some restaurants survive and even thrive, welcoming customers for decades or even centuries. While there’s no single specific reason why these restaurants endure as others fall by the wayside, consistently good food and a welcoming atmosphere combined with a location that gets lots of foot traffic probably helps more than it hurts.


The following 21 restaurants are the oldest in America. While some of them are located in cities that experience a steady stream of tourists, others are located in obscure, out-of-the-way burgs that suggest a bit of travel may be involved for many wishing to visit. Whatever the case, these restaurants have endured while others have slipped through the cracks.





  • Address: 27 S. Broadway, Lebanon, Ohio
  • Established: 1803

Golden Lamb opened in 1803 shortly after the village of Lebanon itself was established. When it first opened, founder Jonas Seaman hung a sign with a golden lamb at the door since many travelers couldn’t read. The sign would become the restaurant’s namesake.


Since then, Golden Lamb has hosted 12 U.S. presidents, politicians like Mitt Romney and Henry Clay, as well as literary geniuses like Charles Dickens, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Alex Haley, James Whitcomb Riley, Louis Bromfield and Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain). That’s not to mention the many stars who have dined at Ohio’s longest operating businesses (think Kesha and Charles Laughton, just to name two).


thegoldenlamb / Instagrm


  • Address: 72 W. 36th St.
  • Established: 1885

When you walk into a restaurant, does it make you sad that they don’t check your pipe? For many years, this was not a problem at Keens Steakhouse in New York City.

Established in 1885, Keens would allow patrons to check their churchwarden pipes, which were too thin and fragile to be shoved thoughtlessly into a pocket or handbag during a meal, lest they break. Sadly, this era is long gone, but you’ll still see hundreds of these pipes displayed throughout the restaurant. You can admire them as you enjoy delectable food,. The menu is chock full of steaks, lobster and some desserts that are pretty hard to pass up.




  • Address: 111 Main St.
  • Established: 1870

Greenport is located in the north fork of Long Island in New York state, and it’s home to Claudio’s, a waterfront restaurant and national historic landmark. Like a lot of restaurants that survived the prohibition era, it served only food in an official capacity during those horrible dry years, and had a speakeasy upstairs.


Today, you can openly drink there while you dine on the goods from its predominantly seafood menu.




  • Address: 129 E. 18th St.
  • Established: 1864

On its website, Pete’s Tavern describes itself as “the tavern O. Henry made famous,” as it’s the location where he wrote “The Gift of the Magi,” a moving story about two people who give each other presents neither can use. The establishment serves “O. Henry chicken wings” in his honor and even allows you, the intrepid diner, to “build your own burger.”





  • Address: 299 Bayshore Blvd.
  • Established: 1861

The Old Clam House has been operating out of the same San Francisco location since 1861. It was originally called the Oakdale Bar & Clam House, and it survived such calamities as the Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906, most likely because the food keeps people coming back. As of June 1, 2021, it is temporarily closed due to the pandemic without a firm re-opening date.

The menu contains lots of seafood, although the landlubbers might prefer their “Wicked Wiches” (sandwiches, get it?). The restaurant normally operates 365 days a year.




  • Address: 1310 Drury St.
  • Established: 1860

McGillin’s Olde Ale House’s website wants you to know two very important things: “We opened the year Lincoln was elected” and “We survived prohibition.” Those are two data points that illustrate how much history this place has lived through, but none of it would have mattered if the food wasn’t any good.


The menu boasts everything from “fun food for grazers” (translation: fries, wings, and nachos) to sandwiches, burgers and “Mile High Meatloaf,” which one assumes is for people who need to gain a lot of weight very quickly.





  • Address: 16 N. 6th St.
  • Established: 1857

Gluek’s Restaurant & Bar is the self-described “oldest bar in Minneapolis,” dating back to 1857. The building that it’s in suffered a devastating fire in 1989, and it was completely restored one year later, so that today it can bring customers the cheddar curds, fried pickles and Bavarian pretzels that perfectly compliment the cornucopia of beer that the restaurant offers. They also observe Oktoberfest.




  • Address:  675 15th St. NW
  • Established: 1856

If Washington, D.C. is going to be a fetid swamp of corruption and degeneracy, there might as well be some good places there to eat. Old Ebbitt Grill has been serving that function since 1856, and even though it’s not in the same location where it started, you are highly unlikely to care about that once the food arrives at your table. Please put us down for a Reuben sandwich and one order of peanut butter pie.




  • Address: 15 E. 7th St.
  • Established: 1854

OK, this is a special case. Founded in 1854, McSorley’s Old Ale House does not actually serve food unless you count the complimentary saltines that you can eat there. The main attraction here is ale, specifically McSorley’s Ale, which is the only thing they serve.


Why are we including them on this list? We’re including them because of all the famous long-ago names that were served there, such as William “Boss” Tweed, but also because it took a landmark 1970 lawsuit for them to start letting women in. A women’s restroom was installed just 16 years later.





  • Address: 563 Balltown Rd.
  • Established: 1852

Per Breitbach’s Country Dining’s website, Balltown, Iowa is a town so small it doesn’t even have a post office. What it does have in Breitbach’s Country Dining, however, is the oldest food and drinking establishment in the entire state. Opened in 1852 thanks to a federal permit from President Millard Fillmore, it serves all-American comfort food and even has an all-you-can-eat buffet.





  • Address: 240 California St.
  • Established: 1849

Tadich Grill is not just the oldest continuously-run restaurant in San Francisco; it’s the oldest one in the entire state of California. Founded in 1849, their website proudly proclaims that it has “large portions [and] fresh ingredients,” and the menu contains a diverse mix of salads, seafood, steaks and among much, much more. They even serve Boston and Coney Island Clam Chowder for displaced and homesick East Coast residents.





  • Address: 713 St Louis St.
  • Established: 1840

It’s really hard to get a bad meal anywhere in New Orleans, but some places are simply a cut above. Antione’s is one of those places. Situated in the French Quarter, it’s been serving customers since 1840, and considering how much competition there is among NOLA’s restaurants, that’s saying a lot. The menu is full of mouthwatering French-Creole dishes, and even has a four-course dinner special that starts with baked gruyere cheese bits and ends with Baked Alaska.





  • Address: 210 E. 8th St.
  • Established: 1838

Arnold’s Bar and Grill consists of two buildings that were both created in the late 1830’s. One was originally a barber shop and the other was originally a feed store.


According to the website, during the prohibition years, Hugo Arnold, a descendant of the founder Simon Arnold, made gin in his bathtub. Today of course, you can drink brazenly while you nosh, and in a sign of the times, the restaurant even has vegan and gluten-free menus.





  • Address: 305 Main St.
  • Established: 1834

J. Huston Tavern asks potential patrons to “step back in time” when you dine within its four walls. Built in 1834 by Joseph Huston, Sr., it was originally meant to be his family’s home, but the immigrants traveling west became the first customers to eat and lodge there.


It’s the oldest continuously operating restaurant west of the Mississippi, and the smoked pork, fried chicken and beef brisket keeps people coming back for more. You can even get a chicken fried pork tenderloin, which sounds heavenly.





  • Address: 56870 Grand River Ave.
  • Established: 1831

The New Hudson Inn was founded in 1831 and, according to its website, was “solidly built out of 18” sewn timbers and hardwood held together with wooden pegs.”


Those who choose to dine there can do so free of concern that their meal will be disrupted by shoddy workmanship, allowing them to focus on such delicacies as “White Trash Nachos,” otherwise known as potato chips covered in bacon, smoked pork and cheddar cheese. Ask your cardiologist if White Trash Nachos are right for you!





  • Address: 41 Union Street
  • Established: 1826

Union Oyster House proclaims itself “America’s oldest restaurant,” which some other restaurants on this list may take issue with. Located right next to Boston’s Faneuil Hall, the building it’s in dates back to before the Revolutionary War.

Since it started serving food in 1826, it’s boasted such luminaries as Daniel Webster as a customer. Because it’s in Boston, the menu is heavy on seafood, not that anyone’s complaining. You can get a steak there too, if you feel you must.





  • Address: 36 Main Street
  • Established: 1776

Despite the Revolutionary War starting in 1776, someone apparently thought that was a good time to open a restaurant. Built primarily to serve the appetites of shipyard workers who were building the warship Oliver Cromwell, the restaurant mainly serves comfort food, and even though it’s steeped in history, their website assures one and all that the food at the Griswold Inn is “anything but dated.”



The Griswold Inn


  • Address: 138 N. Royal Street
  • Established: 1770

Founded in 1770, Gadsby’s Tavern is just 21 years younger than the city of Alexandria where it resides. Today the site consists of two buildings – a second tavern that was built in 1785 and the City Hotel, built in 1792.


The part that was the original tavern in 1770 is now a museum. It gets a little confusing, but since you can eat a dish called “George Washington’s Favorite” (roasted half duck with corn pudding), just put on your tri-cornered hat and get eating!





  • Address: 54 Pearl St.
  • Established: 1762

Fraunces Tavern is located in a landmarked building in Manhattan’s Financial District that is the city’s oldest standing structure. It was established prior to the Revolutionary War, and none other than George Washington himself used it as the site to thank his officers nine days after that war ended.


The tavern has a museum on-site, and while most of the food is pretty modern, although you can also get “Jefferson’s Cobb Salad,” which one assumes refers to the dude on the $10 bill.



frauncestavern / Instagram


  • Address: 505 Sixth Ave.
  • Established: 1885

Tivoli Bar and Grill opened in 1885, and it has a rich and colorful history. By “rich and colorful,” we mean that the apartments above the bar once served as brothel rooms, with hourly rates to boot! Also, Wyatt Earp used to frequent the establish to gamble and drink when he wasn’t taming the Wild West.

The wooden bar is an original fixture dating back to the establishment’s earliest days, along with its silver cash register. Eater gave it high marks for having a “friendly staff, a laidback clientele of varying age groups, cheap drinks and respectably decent bar fare–think wings and burgers.”


Tivoli Bar and Grill / Facebook


  • Address: 26 Marlborough St.
  • Established: 1673

The White Horse Tavern is the oldest restaurant in America. Built in 1652 as a residence for an English immigrant named Francis Brinley, it was acquired in 1673 by William Mayes, Sr. and turned into a tavern.


It didn’t get its name until tavern keeper Jonathan Nichols dubbed it the White Horse Tavern in 1730. Today, its locally-sourced menu offers Beef Wellington, Waygu Beef Short Ribs and Lobster Mac & Cheese.


This article was
produced and syndicated by MediaFeed.org.








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