Pop Culture: Michelin Guide Awards New Stars to 8 Los Angeles Restaurants

DTLA’s Hayato and Santa Monica’s Mélisse each have won a coveted two stars, while Phenakite and Pasta Bar are among the one-star winners.

 

The Michelin Guide released its official list of the 27 California restaurants that have newly earned at least one of its coveted stars. From the California wine country and San Francisco to the Central Coast, Los Angeles to Orange County and San Diego, the lineup offers a range of cuisines that celebrate the agricultural and cultural diversity of the state.

Notably, none of the eateries were given the maximum three-star honor. Each place that made the new California list is considered by official Guide guidelines to be either “a very good restaurant” (one star) or, at the next level, “excellent cooking that is worth a detour” (two stars).

 

Il Pastaio

 

Two L.A. restaurants won two-star ratings: Brandon Go’s three-year-old Hayato, in downtown Los Angeles, and chef Josiah Citrin’s Mélisse, in Santa Monica. The former boasts a traditional Japanese, multi-course kaiseki meal while the latter is celebrated for its slow and luxurious atmosphere.

Six L.A. area restaurants earned one star, located in a range of settings.

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A chef Minh Phan creation at Phenakite, located inside Second Home in Hollywood. KATRINA FREDERICK STUDIO/COURTESY OF SECOND HOME

In Hollywood, the newly single-starred Phenakite, from chef Minh Phan, is located in a co-working space, Second Home, while multi-course Pasta|Bar, set in a strip mall in Encino, uses classic California ingredients to reimagine Italian staples: a cavatelli in lobster sauce with spring peas, a caprese featuring marigold tomatoes, mozzarella, fennel flowers, and avocado.

“The idea of Italian food really is cooking with what you can find at the market,” says Pasta | Bar chef Phillip Frankland Lee, who co-owns the year-old restaurant with his wife, head pastry chef Margarita Kallas-Lee. “So for us it was about utilizing the market to develop a menu really designed around that.”

The other L.A. restaurants to earn one star are Gucci Osteria da Massimo Bottura in Beverly Hills, Pasjoli in Santa Monica, Sushi I-naba in Manhattan Beach, and Morihiro in Atwater Village.

The United States currently has 13 total three-star Michelin restaurants, and none of them are in Southern California. Northern California boasts five three-star establishments, with three in San Francisco, one in Sonoma County and one in Santa Clara County.

Perhaps next year’s version of the annual list will finally see a restaurant in L.A. win the highest award?

“This was not the year to open a three star restaurant nor was it the year to take a two star restaurant to three stars,” Frankland Lee says.

 

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The team at Pasta | Bar with, at center in white shirts, co-owners Margarita Kallas-Lee and Phillip Frankland Lee. PHOTO BY LIAM BROWN, COURTESY OF PASTA | BAR

Kallas-Lee — whose Scratch Restaurants restaurant group also earned a Michelin star for its restaurant Sushi | Bar in Montecito — adds: “Especially with all the restrictions and everything I feel like we are just finally starting to have a normal restaurant environment. I don’t think there was an opportunity to express that and receive that, because everyone was so restrained.”

Even so, the husband and wife team feel that being included on this list in any capacity, particularly navigating and adjusting to COVID-19, is a win.