For over 100 years, a well known tire manufacturer has been publishing a list of restaurants around the world. A spot in The Michelin Red Guide is an honor to any restaurateur. The truly coveted accolades are the Michelin stars. Unlike the four and five star norm of movie critics or online product reviews, Michelin stars only go to three.
With millions of restaurants in the world, being a three Michelin star restaurant is incredibly rare. We’ve mapped the current recipients of the Guides highest honor, the 118 Three Star restaurants in the world.
View 3 Star Michelin Restaurants Worldwide in a full screen map
While the guide does not cover every region, its rankings still give an idea of culinary hot spots. Japan leads the way, its 29 three star restaurants the most of any other country. France, where the guide started in 1900, is second with 25 top-rated restaurants. The United States (14), Germany (11), Italy and Spain (tied with eight each) round our the top five.
London and New York may think they’re battling for top culinary city, but quantitatively it’s Tokyo and Paris. These two cities have more Michelin three star restaurants (10 each) than most countries covered in the Guide. Other top cities include Kyoto, Hong Kong, and New York, all with six restaurants on the list. London has only two (the entire United Kingdom only has four).
Unlike other awards like Oscars, it’s not as clear who becomes the recipient of the Michelin stars. Famous chefs like Gordon Ramsay boast having received more than 20, though some of those restaurants have had stars removed over the years. Celebrity chefs often go on to own many more restaurants than they can oversee as chef. Even at Ramsay’s eponymous three star Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in London, the current chef is Clare Smyth.
That said, there are three people considered the head chefs of multiple three star Michelin restaurants:
- Alain Ducasse helms three restaurants in three different countries: Louis XV in Monte Carlo, Monaco; Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester in London; Plaza Athénée in Paris.
- Thomas Keller in the US has top restaurants on both coasts: The French Laundry in Yountville, California; Per Se in New York City.
- Masahiro Yoshitake has Sushi Yoshitake in Tokyo and Sushi Shikon in Hong Kong, the latter shared with Yoshiharu Kakinuma.
The Michelin Red Guide that contains these famed stars is published by the Michelin tire company. When cars were still very new, the Michelin brothers who founded the company wanted a way to encourage more driving. If drivers used their cars more, they would need to change the tires more often. Thus, the Guides contained great restaurants all over France, in addition to guides for hotels and other attractions.
Fast forward over 100 years and, as you’ve seen, these guides have become a respected voice in fine dining. Anonymous food critics, many not known even to Michelin employees, determine the fate of these top restaurants. To earn three stars requires a herculean effort, but then the restauranteurs must maintain the rating. At least 40 three star restaurants have lost one or more stars.