On Wednesday, the Michelin Guide released the names of its newest Bib Gourmand honorees in California — menus with “excellent food at reasonable prices” — and 18 Bay Area restaurants made the list for the first time.
They will join dozens of other Northern California restaurants when the full Bib Gourmand array is announced Sept. 28. All told, 145 California restaurants, including 47 newcomers, will be on that affordable list. Michelin’s prestigious star awards will also be revealed that day.
Among the new notables are Oakland’s Horn Barbecue from pitmaster Matt Horn; Asa South, longtime South Bay/Peninsula chef Andrew Welch’s Los Gatos restaurant; Hayward’s Los Carnalitos, a food truck turned brick-and-mortar; the rustic farm-to-table Range Life in Livermore; Italian restaurant iTalico in Palo Alto; Top Hatters, DanVy Vu and Matthew Beavers’ San Leandro restaurant; and Spinning Bones, the Cal-Japanese rotisserie in Alameda from Mike Yakura and Danny Sterling.
Also new to the list is a Santa Cruz County restaurant, Mentone, the casual Cal-Med concept that chef David Kinch of Los Gatos’ Michelin-starred Manresa opened in 2020.
The Bib Gourmands, which were introduced in 1997, are awarded by Michelin inspectors who dine anonymously around the world. The honorees are restaurants that offer diners two courses and a glass of wine or dessert for about $40 or less.
Here are the Bay Area and Santa Cruz area additions, along with dining notes from the Michelin inspectors:
Asa South, Los Gatos: “The kitchen manages to infuse a bit of fun into its repertoire of serious food. There’s something for everyone on this wide-reaching carte, especially if you love fish that is sustainably harvested.”
Dumpling Home, San Francisco: “This casual eatery excels in the delicate art of soup dumplings, which arrive with supple skins and spoonfuls of delicious broth far clearer and more distilled than most.”
FOB Kitchen, Oakland: “This popular Filipino restaurant began as a pop-up. The menu is loaded with keepers, but keep your options open for tantalizing specials, such as sweet and sour sinigang with pork, eggplant and daikon or Janice’s ribs.”
Folktable, Sonoma: “Housed within a charming outdoor marketplace is a kitchen brimming with ideas. To wit: Beef tartare is ground to order and served on hash browns; while broccoli is grilled, then showered with puffed rice, Thai basil and maple tahini.”
Horn Barbecue, Oakland: “Arrive early to this local sensation from pitmaster Matt Horn as there is bound to be a wait. It’s well worth your time though, as the chef’s ‘West Coast Barbecue,’ complete with inspiration, is nothing less than rich, delicious and decadent.
iTalico, Palo Alto: “The menu here is concise and well-edited, but there are some winning dishes. Start things off right with the salumi-and-cheese extravaganza before moving on to carpaccio, burrata or tonno crudo.”
Khom Loi, Sebastopol: “Extensive travel throughout Thailand has informed and inspired this team to bring a taste of Chiang Mai to Sebastopol. This is food that is spiced and seasoned with little hesitation and fresh and electric at the same time.”
Los Carnalitos, Hayward: “The two brothers behind this operation, which started as a wildly popular food truck, present delicacies like huaraches and quesadilla de huitlacoche that rarely appear on other menus in town. Here, quesadillas are made from housemade tortillas, so try the one filled with squash blossom, queso fresco and tomatillo salsa.”
Mentone, Aptos: “The carte is unusual, unveiling fried sardines with Meyer lemon aioli or white bean soup with chickpeas in a prosciutto broth. Pizzas take the cake, such as the Pesto shimmering with fromage blanc, Crescenza, and caciocavallo, or Sardenaira with tomato sauce, anchovies and olives.”
New Dumpling, El Cerrito: “It is all in the name at this vivacious and cheery spot where dumplings are the star of the show. Watch them being made in the open kitchen, then consult the chalkboard for featured menu items.”
Range Life, Livermore: “Tuck into appealing bites like fig toast with a drizzle of olive oil and salt, or delicately fried yellow squash and green tomatoes over toasted pumpkin seeds and basil aioli.”
Routier, San Francisco: “Belinda Leong and Michel Suas have long been recognized as Bay Area pastry royalty, so naturally, this foray into sit-down dining is a treat. To sweeten the pot even further, they tapped JP Carmona, formerly chef de cuisine at Manresa, to lead the kitchen.”
Spinning Bones, Alameda: “On the quaint island of Alameda comes this casual concept from restaurateurs Mike Yakura and Danny Sterling. Billing itself as a Californian rotisserie, the menu is also strewn with Hawaiian and Japanese accents.”
Taquería El Paisa, Oakland: “This Oakland institution is widely hailed as the temple of tacos. Meat is given the starring role here, and offal, including tripe and cabeza, are of special note.”
Tacos Oscar, Oakland: “The menu is scrawled in chalk, and while it’s simple — tacos and tostadas — it changes often. Meat, such as the braised pork shoulder topped with an avo-tomatillo salsa and chicharrónes, is a staple; but clever vegan versions, like the charred broccoli with soy-cashew cheese, give animal proteins a run for their money.”
Tony’s Seafood, Marshall/Tomales Bay: “Under the ownership of Hog Island Oyster Co., the restaurant offers a casual but seriously delicious foray into ace seafood that’s been caught or harvested in local waters.”
Top Hatters Kitchen, San Leandro: “Husband-and-wife co-owners Matthew Beavers and DanVy Vu opted to honor this fixture’s former life as a family-owned hat shop by keeping the name. Chef Vu leads the kitchen, and her skillful contemporary combination of Vietnamese and Californian flavors is tantalizing.”
Um.ma, San Francisco: “The menu is peppered with Korean classics and served family-style, and it’s as small and inviting as it gets. Transcendent kimchi jjigae arrives bubbling hot with soft tofu, tender pork belly, tangy cabbage and a hearty broth.”
Valley, Sonoma: “The affordable wine list is a veritable call to adventure, highlighting organic and biodynamic favorites from California and beyond. The kitchen serves items such as soft-boiled eggs finished with a savory XO sauce and duck breast tortillas served with house-made hoisin that is best in class.”