With the 2018 Michelin Stars being rewarded recently, some of you might be asking why they don’t see stars handed out to any restaurants in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and New Orleans.
In particular, not covering Los Angeles seems to be the biggest head-scratching considering the size of the city and its culinary reputation. However, looking past the surface, the decision wasn’t based on the perception, or even the reality of the city’s culinary scene, instead it’s a lack of interest and budget.
The primary reason why Michelin halted their guides in 2009 in Los Angeles was due to the lack of interest and the sheer size of the city. Same goes with Las Vegas, which also last saw their Michelin guide in the same year.
Michelin used to publish guides in Los Angeles and Las Vegas. But the company’s inspectors ceased evaluating both cities in 2010 for economic and geographical reasons, a Michelin spokesman said. It was shortly after the economic crash, and the nearly 500 square miles of L.A.’s greater metropolitan area proved difficult for their inspectors to cover.
Six years later in 2016, the annual guide announced that they would begin providing a Guide for Washington D.C., that confused critics and Angelenos even more: “No knock on D.C., but it gets into current Michelin Guide while L.A. doesn’t? As 4th U.S. city in guide? Nuts,” tweeted New York Times columnist and former food critic Frank Bruni. Here’s some more commentary from a Reddit thread that further illuminates why there’s a lack of MIchelin presence in L.A.
I think Michelin does a great job finding the very best restaurants within a certain genre, but the Michelin guides have always been controversial outside of France. Obviously some would say the French are slanted toward French cuisine restaurants. They also expect restaurants to have high etiquette, not too loud, not too much fun, white tablecloths and stuffy waiters, and an expensive wine list. These are obviously not standards that all Americans look for in restaurants, so I think Michelin probably does miss a lot of great places in the U.S. (and probably in every country). For a better take on American cuisine IMO check out the James Beard Awards there is a lot of overlap between James Beard and Michelin, but James Beard finds awesome local iconic American restaurants that Michelin overlooks.
So, digging deeper, it’s not that L.A. doesn’t have any Michelin-worthy restaurants. It’s not about the quality of food in Los Angeles or a dearth of fantastic restaurants as one initially assumes, but it was a business decision. Nothing personal, L.A.
As it stands, the annual Michelin star awards cover just four U.S. cities — New York City, San Francisco, Chicago, and Washington D.C. Still bothered? Check out Eater LA’s “Hypothetical MIchelin Guide for Los Angeles”.