Best-of Guides California

MICHELIN-Starred Restaurants In California Wine Country

7 Restaurants
Come to Northern California’s wine country for the vineyards, stay for the food at these MICHELIN-starred restaurants elevating the freshest local ingredients.
Updated on 19 February 2024
Auberge du Soleil
180 Rutherford Hill Rd., 94573 Rutherford
$$$$ · Californian

This is one of the first restaurants to elevate the Napa Valley to greatness. The kitchen’s work is as impressive as the setting. Everything seems more beautiful from this extraordinary perch, overlooking the vineyards and mountains. The chef's tasting menu invites guests to control how their experience unfolds by choosing dishes. Begin with an elegant soup of sweet white corn soup poured table-side; layered with bay shrimp and a cube of toasted brioche topped with tarragon crème fraîche, it's rich and creamy. 

The French Laundry
6640 Washington St., 94599 Yountville
$$$$ · Contemporary

Thomas Keller’s legendary destination doesn’t miss a beat. Classic French techniques are paired with wildly fresh ingredients in a setting that is a perfect storm of restaurant greatness. Dinner may bring signature oysters with white sturgeon caviar in a warm sabayon studded with tapioca pearls, or Pacific shima aji tartare composed with puffed grains for texture and a vibrant tomato and jalapeño "chiffon" for (immense) flavor.  "Coffee and Donuts", along with a box of handmade chocolates, ends the experience on a sweet note.

131 North St., 95448 Healdsburg
$$$$ · Contemporary

Exquisite barely begins to describe a meal at this Healdsburg jewel, where every detail has been considered, from the moss and flowers cradling the amuse-bouche presentation to the packets of heirloom seeds that are sent home as parting gifts. 
The menu is acutely tuned to each micro-season in Sonoma County, thanks to the bounty provided by farmer and co-owner, Katina Connaughton. Spring might bring delicately smoked Ora king salmon topped with arctic char roe and myoga; while winter showcases pumpkin tartare with Dungeness crab and a miso-makrut lime foam. 

1339 Pearl St., 94559 Napa
$$$$ · Japanese

Though Kenzo offers a handful of tables, the best seats are at the long counter, where diners can chat with the chefs and watch their meal being prepared firsthand. The kaiseki experience is beautifully composed, elegantly paced, and may feature such exquisite presentations as the seasonal hassun—unveiling poached eggplant in dashi and seared Sonoma duck breast—and straw-smoked Hokkaido scallop sashimi with jidori egg yolk sauce.

La Toque
1314 McKinstry St., 94559 Napa
$$$$ · Contemporary

You’ll want to tip your own toque in appreciation after a meal at this downtown fine-dining lair in the Westin Verasa Napa, which blends a serious approach to cuisine and service that has just enough cheek to keep things lively. Order à la carte or opt for a six-course tasting, beginning with canapés like perfectly seasoned tuna tartare or clams with apple vinaigrette. Thin slices of beef loin carpaccio are lightly smoked, then artfully presented to resemble a flower topped with creamy tuna sauce, sautéed wild mushrooms, and dried tomato.

Harbor House
5600 CA-1, 95432 Elk
$$$$ · Californian

This redwood-clad space is the very essence of laid-back luxury; windows frame picture-perfect views and a fireplace augments the ambience. Cooking here is highly original, driven by impeccable technique and devotion to sustainability. The kitchen is devout when it comes to hyper-local and foraged ingredients, sourcing many ingredients from their own organic farm. Compelling creations have included a silky-smooth egg custard, dressed with trout roe and gently cooked leeks. 

231 Center St., 95448 Healdsburg
$$$ · Californian

Barndiva is an enchanting retreat. Service is generous, attentive, and with nary a hint of pretense. The cooking hones in on prime local produce and sustainability. There is a tangible deftness in such aromatic flavor combinations as seared dayboat scallops with lemongrass-ginger butter sauce; as well as hamachi with green papaya, fermented mango, and serrano oil. It should be unlawful to forgo the creative goodies from pastry chef Neidy Venegas, like a vanilla genoise layered with citrus mousse and decorated with blood orange gel.