A week before the much-anticipated reveal of California’s 2023 Michelin star winners on July 18, the international restaurant guide disclosed an amuse-bouche of 10 new Bib Gourmands — restaurants offering good food at a good value.
According to the news release, Michelin inspectors have chosen 143 California Bib Gourmands this year, including the 10 new additions. Frustratingly, none of the shiny new Bibs are in Wine Country — not in Sonoma nor Napa counties, nor north of the Golden Gate Bridge. But four of the newcomers are in the Bay Area: Bansang (San Francisco, Korean cuisine); Bombera (Oakland, Mexican cuisine); Petiscos (San Jose, Portuguese cuisine); and Snail Bar (Oakland, contemporary cuisine).
“The inspection team and I are very excited about these ten restaurants joining the wide array of Bib Gourmand restaurants already in the great state of California,” said Gwendal Poullennec, the International Director of the Michelin Guides.
Other newcomers to the Bib Gourmand category this year are Carnes Asadas Pancho Lopez (Los Angeles, Mexican cuisine); Cobi’s (Santa Monica, Asian cuisine); Eat Joy Food (Rowland Heights, Taiwanese cuisine); Mabel’s Gone Fishing (San Diego, seafood); Maligne (Seaside, Californian cuisine); and Villa’s Tacos (Los Angeles, Mexican cuisine).
The complete list of Bib Gourmand restaurants will be available on July 18, along with the California Michelin star list, following the live ceremony in Oakland.
We’re not entirely sour grapes about the whole thing, though. Despite having no Wine Country restaurants debut on the Bib Gourmand list this year, last year eight local restaurants maintained their Bib Gourmand status, including Healdsburg’s Chalkboard; El Molino Central, Valley Bar + Bottle and FolkTable in Sonoma; Khom Loi and Ramen Gaijin in Sebastopol; Stockhome in Petaluma; and Glen Ellen Star in Glen Ellen.
Like this year, there were no new additions to the Bib Gourmand list from Sonoma County in 2022.
While the stars remain the restaurant world’s most coveted awards, being selected a Bib Gourmand by Michelin inspectors is also an honor and can put a restaurant on the map. To be considered for the Bib Gourmand category, restaurants must serve two courses, a glass of wine or dessert for around $40 or less — a tall order in California.
Today, the Michelin Guide comprises a series of guidebooks and announces awards annually across countries, regions and cities — there’s a Michelin Guide for France, but also one for Paris. In the United States, awards are announced in cities like New York City or Washington, D.C., and statewide, in the case of California.
The Michelin guide, launched by French tire company Michelin in 1900, began awarding stars to fine-dining establishments in 1926. In 1955, it introduced a second designation for restaurants deemed a good value by Michelin inspectors. It became known as Bib Gourmand in 1997 and was indicated in the guidebook with an image of the tire company’s mascot, “Bibendum,” also known as the Michelin Man.