Best Sonoma County Restaurants Under $40, According to Michelin

These restaurants made the Michelin Guide's Bib Gourmand list, recognized for their good value meals.

After a year-long hiatus due to the pandemic and last year’s wildfires, The California Michelin Guide returned last month with the announcement of Bib Gourmand restaurants on Sept. 22 and stars on Sept. 28. New Sonoma County additions to the guide this year include Barndiva in Healdsburg, which earned its first star, and Sebastopol’s Khom Loi and Sonoma’s Folktable and Valley Bar + Bottle, which were named Bib Gourmands. Single Thread restaurant in Healdsburg retained its three stars — the only restaurant in Sonoma County to have received the highest Michelin award.

While most people are familiar with the Michelin stars, the Bib Gourmand award is lesser known. 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 guide book with an image of the tire company’s mascot “Bibendum,” also known as the Michelin Man.

Today, the Michelin Guide comprises a series of guide books 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 or Washington, D.C. and statewide, in the case of California. Restaurants now need to serve two courses, a glass of wine or dessert for around $40 or less to be considered for the Bib Gourmand category.

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 of foodie destinations. This year, the California Michelin Guide lists seven Bib Gourmand restaurants in Sonoma County (and one just across the border in Marin). A great meal under $40 isn’t easily found in California — click through the above gallery for some excellent deals, courtesy of Michelin.