MICHELIN Guide Inspectors spend all year on the road uncovering the best restaurants to recommend—and what they've found is too good to keep a secret. That's why, over the next few weeks, we're adding new restaurants to the MICHELIN Guide California leading up to the announcement of Bib Gourmands and Stars from September 22nd. Bon appétit!
Knife Pleat (Costa Mesa)
Tables are filled with well-heeled visitors, all here for Chef Tony Esnault's contemporary take on classic French cuisine, as in crisp sea bream paired with beurre blanc. For dessert, a frosted meringue shell is cracked open to reveal a rich rhubarb sorbet, topped with strawberry gelée.
Heritage Barbecue (San Juan Capistrano)
Chef/owner Daniel Castillo's food draws inspiration from central Texas, so when that sweet scent of California white oak gets going, find yourself transported on a riotous journey, starting with slices of glistening brisket. Add on a side of chili with more brisket along with a cheddar-jalapeño biscuit and never look back again.
Khan Saab (Fullerton)
Originally from Pakistan, Chef Imran Ali Mookhi displays a certain deftness with spices, flavors, and in his handling of red meat. Chicken and vegetarian items are on offer, but there's no denying that beef is king on this menu.
The cuisine takes advantage of the best ingredients SoCal has to offer in highly shareable dishes featuring the bold, sunny flavors of the Mediterranean. Vegetables and seafood steal the show, with spice as a key supporting character.
This Japanese import, first opened in Akita Prefecture, has been a local hit since day one. The first stateside location, is set in a Clairemont strip mall and attracts a crowd. On the menu, ramen is the main attraction. Diners are faced with few choices; the house broth is a rich, porky tonkotsu enhanced with miso.
Chef Brad Wise masters a wood-fired hearth to produce his fresh and uncomplicated preparations. Think: French-style halibut with squash blossoms or Southern chicken-fried quail with redeye gravy.
This quaint space grabs you from the very beginning as you catch sight of that counter displaying a tempting lineup of cheeses, freshly baked baguettes and silver buckets of wine. The menu matches the mood, with its familiar favorites and tried-and-true classics such as Benedicts, crêpes, mussels and more.
The Asian fusion plates are on pace with the luxe setting and most dishes are meant to be shared. The coal-fired octopus skewer with shishito peppers, basil aïoli and bacon is a reliable pick, while the rendition of glazed black cod is a total crowd-pleaser.
Hero image: Caille. Photo by Lucianna McIntosh, courtesy of Caille