San Diego County continues to grow its presence on the coveted Michelin Guide lists.
Headquartered in Greenville, South Carolina, Michelin is the internationally-recognized culinary rating system. Its anonymous inspectors assess restaurants around the world each year based on quality of ingredients used, master of flavor and cooking techniques, the personality of the chef in the cuisine, value for money and consistency between visits.
With this in mind, Michelin has added five new San Diego-based food places to the 2021 Michelin Guide California selection. These include Animae, Callie, Fort Oak, Little Frenchie and Menya Ultra.
New Gems, Returning Stars
“Michelin Guide inspectors are delighted to celebrate new gems and returning culinary stars after a pause in 2020,” said Gwendal Poullennec, international director of The Michelin Guides. “As pioneers for signature, sustainable cuisine and home-grown talent, Californian chefs and restaurant teams continue to inspire us with their creativity and strength throughout the crisis and recovery period.”
About the Asian fusion Animae, Michelin inspectors said, “The coal-fired octopus skewer with shishito peppers, basil aioli and bacon is a reliable pick, while the rendition of glazed black cod is a total crowd-pleaser.”
Inspectors said the cuisine at Callie “features bold, sunny flavors of the Mediterranean. Vegetables and seafood steal the show, with spice as a key supporting character.”
At Fort Oak, inspectors said Chef Brad Wise “masters a wood-fired hearth to produce his fresh and uncomplicated preparations, including French-style halibut with squash blossoms or Southern chicken-fried quail with redeye gravy.”
Elsewhere, inspectors said Little Frenchie is a “quaint space” which includes familiar favorites like Benedicts, crepes and mussels and Menya Ultra is a Japanese import whose ramen is the main attraction.
Bib Gourmands, California Stars
The new additions were revealed just days prior to the annual announcement of Bib Gourmands and Stars; California Bib Gourmands was published Sept. 22 and California Stars is scheduled to be released on Sept. 28. 45 newcomers earned Bib Gourmand awards in California. Five of those are in San Diego. They join William Bradley’s Addison at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar, which received one Michelin star in 2019. According to experts, the star ratings can increase a restaurant’s business between 20% and 100%, depending on the number of stars it receives.
In March that same year, Michelin and Visit California announced the release of “The Michelin Guide California 2019,” a one-of-a-kind guide that would cover select cities throughout the state. This included restaurants in San Diego.
Then in May, it revealed the Bib Gourmand eateries list, which features 151 affordable restaurants throughout California on which eight San Diego locations were mentioned. Carlsbad’s Campfire, Cucina Sorella in Kensington and Cucina Urbana in Bankers Hill, the now-defunct El Jardin in Point Loma, Juniper & Ivy and Kettner Exchange in Little Italy, Lola 55 in the East Village and Solare in Liberty Station were among the mentioned.
Last year, in lieu of producing the 2020 California Guide due to COVID-19, Michelin highlighted its 25 favorite restaurant discoveries made in 2020. Five of those restaurants are located in San Diego: Morning Glory in Little Italy, Tuetano Taqueria in San Ysidro, Sushi Tadokoro in Mission Hills, Soichi Sushi located in Parkcrest and Dija Mara out of Oceanside.