AQ (Photo credit: Virginia Miller)


Rich Table (Photo credit: Virginia Miller)

5 restaurants that should have a Michelin Star

The Bay Area may boast a substantial list of Michelin-starred restaurants already, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for a few more. Whether they’re overlooked in the frenzy of new restaurant openings or are just less hyped, some places fly under the radar but are worth going out of your way for. These five restaurants have received no shortage of accolades and award nominations themselves, but none of them have received a Michelin star yet—and we think they’re all especially deserving of it.

Opened in 2011, AQ has since moved from a la carte to prix fixe only, but fear not—the four-course menu is still a quite reasonable $65. Executive chef/owner Mark Liberman’s imaginative cuisine plays with the seasons, as many do, but takes the concept further than most. Seasonal trees and plants, table and glassware, décor, and a seasonally-changing bar top—copper in the fall, Italian marble in the winter—are just a few of the ways in which AQ deftly weaves the seasons into their experience.

Bar Tartine
Chef Nick Balla of Bar Tartine continues to expand the boundaries of what modern Eastern European food can be by incorporating Japanese technique and Hungarian elements into his dishes. Throw in Tartine’s equally revolutionary breads, which pull from historic recipes and obscure traditions around the world, and it’s no wonder that we consider Tartine one of the most forward-thinking-yet-casual restaurants in the country, and deserving of a shiny star.

Executive chef Jason Fox has been working wonders since Commonwealth opened in 2010, and unlike many hot newcomers of recent years, this one just gets better and better. Fox turns out imaginative and forward-thinking New American dishes that remain under the $20 mark. Whether it’s sea urchin over corn and tapioca fritters or beer meringues for dessert, a meal at this chic Mission spot is the bee’s knees.

Rich Table
Opened in 2012, Evan and Sarah Rich’s Rich Table has received no shortage of accolades, from a James Beard nom to landing in Bon Appetit’s “Top 50 New Restaurants” the year it debuted. Evan’s cooking is inspired—we still can’t forget his duck and plum lasagna from three years ago—and Sarah’s desserts are balanced and elegant. With a stellar wine list, refined cocktails, and thoughtful service, it’s easily one of the city’s great restaurants for nearly three years now.

Kokkari Estiatorio
If there is one classic SF restaurant that deserves a Michelin star, it is Greek great Kokkari. Opened in 1998 (sister restaurant Evvia in Palo Alto opened in 1995), it’s become a perennial favorite, and 15 years in reservations are still tough to snag. Kokkari’s expression of traditional yet refined Greek food, served in a rustic-chic setting, charms families, friends, and food lovers alike. Dreams of a glass of Greek wine enjoyed by the massive stone fireplace—where chickens roast and breads are warmed—keep pulling us back to arguably the greatest upscale Greek restaurant in the country.

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