Reservations for the San Francisco Bay Area’s Michelin-ranked spots can be as hard to get as Taylor Swift tickets, but there’s a deliciously simple loophole: takeout and delivery!
The coveted Michelin rating is bestowed by an anonymous group of inspectors who consider one thing only in their appraisals: the food. Notching a star is the brass ring, a Bib Gourmand designation means value, and the respectable “plate” rating signifies “quality food,” according to Michelin. Service, design, and other in-restaurant attributes don’t count, which means that although eating a meal from Flores or Funky Elephant in your undies might seem sacrilegious, it actually makes the most sense.
Whether you want to treat yourself to a fancy night in for one or impress dinner party guests, with Caviar, these 2022 Michelin winners are literally in the bag.
SAN FRANCISCO MICHELIN ONE-STAR RATING
Take off your thinking cap, because “omakase,” or chef’s choice, is what you’ll get from this Michelin-star Design District sushi bar — no decisions required. Every collection on the menu is curated by chef Jackson Yu, who expertly crafts perfectly seasoned edomae-style sushi from fresh, primo Tokyo-market fish. Take it over the top with the buttery, melt-in-your-mouth toro and wagyu combo.
SAN FRANCISCO BIB GOURMAND RATING
The more casual izakaya-style sibling of Michelin-starred Omakase crafts outstanding sashimi and nigiri using the same top-grade Tokyo fish, along with an array of cooked bites. Start with the Harajuku roll, which includes everything but the kitchen sink, or the flight of fish that is the chirashi bowl. Heat things up with warm dishes, like crunchy-tender chicken karaage and hamachi kama.
Del Popolo Restaurant
Heaven is a wood-fired Neapolitan-style pizza from this Tendernob Italian stallion. The food-truck-to-brick-and-mortar success story still slings its storied snacks (roasted Brussels sprouts, Spanish banana peppers), but keep your eyes on the prize: Order a charred, floppy-chewy pie straight from the wood oven and loaded with ingredients as far-reaching as Yukon gold potatoes, smoked stracciatella, and nettles.
Fire up your taste buds because this Richmond District Sichuan spot brings the heat. Lean into the peppercorn-and-red-chili-pepper-flaked experience by ordering the stir-fried lamb with onions and cumin sauce, blistered dry-fried string beans accented with ground pork and chopped red chili peppers, or mouth-tingling, minced-pork-optional mapo tofu. Fire extinguisher not included.
Nopa Babies are so much better than Nepo Babies. At Nopa’s sister restaurant, Chef Gonzalo Guzmán’s traditional Mexican dishes are the stuff of legend, and here you can savor his soulful flavors with the plato de carnitas — juicy milk-and-beer-braised pork that’s crispy-edged fried and paired with lime-dressed cabbage, creamy slaw, and bright tomatillo salsa — or your tacos of choice, served with standout handmade corn tortillas.
OK, so you won’t get the clattering of pushcarts when you order takeout from this family-owned FiDi dim-sum darling, but you’ll still get the deliciousness of the constantly rotating dishes it’s been turning out for almost 60 years. Venture beyond the basics (shumai, pork buns) and try crisp breaded crab claws, vibrant-green spinach dumplings, deep-fried shrimp encased in shrimp mousse, and velvety mango pudding.
This Chestnut Street food-and-wine landmark offers a tour of the rustic, seasonally changing cuisine along Italy’s A16 expressway, which stretches from Naples to Canosa. Highlights of the region — and the menu — include burrata (with olive oil and crostini) and chewy, thin-crust Neapolitan pizzas. Start with fried olives and a pie enhanced with caramelized mushrooms, garlic, chili, caciocavallo cheese, and herb ricotta. Save room for meatballs.
Z & Y Restaurant
With 10 years of Michelin rankings and a fan club that has included presidents, foreign ministers, and food luminaries Cecilia Chiang and Alice Waters, chef-owner Lijun Han’s Chinatown superstar has serious staying power. Chef Han’s mastery of Sichuan chili pepper– and peppercorn-laden cuisine is evident in all 100-ish worthy options, including spicy sauce-glazed kung pao chicken and takeout-perfect, ready-to-steam frozen dumplings.
Family recipes and ultrafresh California ingredients are the winning combo at Union Street’s vibrant Mexican hot spot. Taste the tradition brimming in every house-made corn tortilla chip, lightly crisped Oaxacan-cheese quesadilla, and bowl brimming with your choice of meat, seasoned rice, slow-cooked beans, and toppings of sliced avocado, crumbled queso fresco, lettuce, and salsa fresca.
This is no mere dumpling house, it’s a home, and home is not only where the heart is, but where the very happy belly is too. Get your fill of some of the city’s best xiao long bao (or XLB), thin-skinned steamed dumplings filled with sublime broth and ground meat. The Hayes Valley spot offers six variations, and one of your picks should definitely be the numbing-in-a-good-way pork option.
SAN FRANCISCO MICHELIN PLATE RATING
El Buen Comer
“Good eating” is guaranteed with Isabel Caudillo’s homey Mexican comfort cooking. The Mexico City native honors the cuisine of her youth with slow-simmered from-scratch sauces and stews of notable depth and soul. Taste the abuelita-approved flavors in cheesy enchiladas smothered in green or red sauce, pull-apart pork in herby green mole, and tacos constructed with organic hand-crafted corn tortillas. Do not skip the flan, which comes in chocolate and coconut (get both).
Is it the wood-fired, thin-crust Neapolitan-style pizza or the heaping bowls of creamy cacio e pepe and mushroom risotto that keep diners flocking to this family of laid-back Italian restaurants with Richmond, Russian Hill, and Sunset locations? Who cares! Get all of it — plus, maybe some arancini and Nonna’s meatballs for the table — and prepare for a belly-filling, button-undoing sort of meal.
They had us at “Big Ass Chocolate Chip Cookie.” But there’s more! This casual-chic Richmond District spot seduces with a modern American menu that’s equally comfy and come-hither: Just try to stop your mouth from watering as you contemplate the chorizo croquettes; ballpark Fries with fried garlic, Parmesan and parsley; and cornmeal-dredged free-range fried chicken. The cherry on top of this culinary-awesomeness sundae? To-go cocktails, like the signature Violet Skies, concocted mezcal infused with butterfly pea flower.
You’ve likely never had Indian food like this before. Renowned executive chef Sujan Sarkar expertly balances tradition, innovation, and local ingredients at SoMa’s swanky shrine to what he calls “progressive Indian.” The result? The rich, velvety tomato sauce for his butter chicken is thickened with cashews, and the Cauliflower Koliwada’s battered-and-fried florets get their Cinderella moment with an anointing of citrusy sour cream and palate-perking chili-peanut chutney.
Chef Harold Jurado’s edible works of ramen art satisfy all dietary directives thanks to a choice of 30-hour pork broth, mushroom-based vegetarian broth, and cloudy chicken-bone broth. (There’s even a gluten-free option.) Pause between “OMGs” and noodly slurps for Japanese and Hawaiian favorites like crunchy-breaded chicken katsu and savory-saucy spam musubi. Also: taro soft serve and Dole Whip!
Rejoice, vegans (and everyone else, because this food is yummy enough for carnivores). Though lower key than its glitzy Hollywood sibling, there’s still star power in the plates at this OG Mission spot famed for trendsetting plant-based Mexican food. See it shine in the girthy burrito loaded with tempeh chorizo, rice, beans, lettuce, and pico de gallo, and more experimental dishes like nachos featuring jackfruit carnitas.
EAST BAY BIB GOURMAND RATING
This UC student fave doesn’t take reservations, making delivery or pickup an even smarter bet than usual. Flawless Northern Chinese dishes and affordable lunch specials draw families and students to this Berkeley classic. Celebrations demand the glistening, lacquered whole Peking duck, and anytime is right for the beloved Double Skin: slippery, warm soy-mustard-dressed mung bean noodles with seafood, pork, vegetables, and egg (vegetarian version also available).
Hey, hot stuff! Chef John Yao’s fiery Sichuan specialties will have you at hello, but there’s plenty for heat-haters too at this Albany spot. Milder dishes like wide-noodle chow mein and golden green-onion pancakes will hit the spot. Absolutely everybody should order the breaded-and-fried sesame chicken doused in a thick, spicy sauce — it’s a house favorite.
Teni East Kitchen
At Oakland’s rustic-chic Temescal destination, Burma Superstar alum Tiyo Shibabaw layers her California influence on Burmese dishes with mouthwatering results. Start with fresh, vinaigrette-tossed pea shoots sprinkled with peanuts and fried shallots, then surrender to the crisp, chili-kissed spicy wings and stir-fried basil-cumin pork belly. Bonus: Many dishes are gluten-free, and there are loads of veg and vegan options.
Wanna know why Alameda’s rotisserie chicken joint gets Michelin love? You'll find the answer in one bite of the juicy-crispy shio-koji-marinated chicken. Like the fork-tender pork shoulder and yellow-curry-salted BBQ ribs, it’s one of many umami bombs on the Hawaiian-, California-, and Japanese-inflected menu. That means you can pair your preferred meat with black-vinegar bacon edamame or chunky corn fritters slathered with strawberry jam.
A pop-up gone full-time, Brandi and Janice Dulce’s Oakland restaurant, in Temescal, reclaims the immigrant idiom with innovative Filipino food, like lumpia and pork adobo served in hip, tropics-inspired surroundings. New perspective extends to their spiked and zero-proof cocktails, like the Blow the Whistle, a tribute to rapper Too $hort that’s a beguiling mix of rum, fresh tamarind, and lime with a chili-liqueur kick.
EAST BAY MICHELIN PLATE RATING
The best part about ordering from Berkeley’s hot-pink taqueria is avoiding the perpetual line out the door. Named after the street-vendor-laden Mexico City nabe, Tacubaya generously portions Mexican comforts including street-style tacos of nearly every ilk; brothy, soulful tortilla soup; and mushroom-stuffed chili rellenos. You may already be stuffed, but the crispy-fluffy churros and velvety Mexican flourless chocolate cake should not be considered optional.
This taste of Mexico City rose from a beloved family-owned Redwood City taco truck to a Hayward brick-and-mortar, where you can get plump gorditas with chicharron prensado and colorful, textural Gringa quesadillas — crisped house-made flour tortillas overflowing with al pastor, shredded cheese, red onion, habanero, avocado salsa, and cilantro.
With gluten-free, vegan, and meat-forward dishes on the menu, Oakland’s serene, cozy Ethiopian award winner covers all the cravings. Go with the plant-forward Veggie Combo or more meaty endeavors. But don’t miss the mitten shiro combo — chickpea and berbere-spice stew served with gomen, atakilt, and gluten-free or regular injera.
Despite its playful name and decor, the self-styled non-traditional Thai comfort food at this Berkeley hot spot is no joke. Former Hawker Fare chef Supasit Puttikaew uses only fresh top-shelf ingredients and house-made sauces and pastes for his modern interpretations of age-old dishes. Revel in elevated textbook pad Thai crowned with two fresh Gulf white shrimp, or gigantic organic party wings glossed with sweet-spicy chili jam. Yeah, we want funk.
With nearly 35 years serving Berkeley, ever-affordable Vik’s has its titular chaat down pat. You’ll be tempted to snack till you can’t snack anymore on all the hot and cold street foods on offer — they are not only delish but reasonably priced — but make sure to leave room for the entrees too, like lightly charred tandoori chicken and vegetarian beans aloo. Be sure to add to cart some of Vik’s delectable desserts, like syrupy gulab jamun and rasmalai, which are nutty, spicy cheese bites.
Everything on the menu at Oakland’s earth-toned Ethiopian superstar dazzles, so surrender the decision-making to the chef and go straight for the Meat & Veggie Ultimate Combo. It’s a rainbow of 10 distinctive delicacies — including berbere-spiced chicken stew and yellow beef stew — plus a bonus house salad and regular or gluten-free injera. We won’t blame you if you add mushroom tibs and baklava!
Bird & Buffalo
Oakland Temescal’s self-described Thai soul food spot promises “peace and larb, y’all,” and that’s what you’ll get, in traditional and contemporary Northeastern Thai specialties. House favorites include crunchy lemongrass-marinated deep-fried wings; spicy, fried-egg-topped drunken noodles; and of course the larb (ground-meat) salad, available with chicken, fish, beef, or mushroom-tofu. Plus, B&B is always adding new stuff to its takeaway menu — like chive cakes and Tom Saap rice soup — so repeat virtual trips are encouraged.
Spanish tapas are the ultimate answer to those nights when you want a little bit of everything and care to go sharesies. Say yes to crispy fries topped with garlic shrimp, uni aioli, and creme fraiche; bravas; bruselas; and costillas, all by revered paella caterer Ñora Cocina Español. Go even deeper with shaggy-crispy, breaded croquetas (pick your poison: chicken, ham, mushroom, or crab and squid ink) or buñelos with avocado aioli, and — duh — paella, which comes in six varieties.
Ramenwell by Gino Lucas
Courtesy of Omakase
Yank Sing by Allie Tong
Del Popolo by Eric Wolfinger