How Many Michelin-Star Restaurants Are There In The US?

The Michelin star is a prestigious award given only to restaurants offering the highest levels of culinary excellence. Walking around any major city in the U.S., it's not uncommon to see doors or windows proudly showing off that recognizable red and white rounded star. Just how many Michelin-star restaurants are there across the country?

As of this writing, there are 234 eateries in the U.S. that have earned either one, two, or three stars — and only 13 earned three Michelin stars, representing truly exceptional cuisine. Comparatively to other countries, the States rank in the middle of the pack in terms of number of starred restaurants. France has 692, Italy clocks in at 385, Spain houses 268, the United Kingdom has 187, and Japan has 388 — Tokyo is the city with the most Michelin star restaurants in the world. While metropolitan areas often house the majority of starred establishments, there are also many Michelin-starred restaurants in small towns and villages.

Overall, there are 1,536 establishments that have earned some form of distinction from Michelin in the United States — stars or otherwise. These cover cuisines ranging from beloved national cuisines like Italian and Mexican food to more specific groupings like shabu-shabu, a kind of Japanese hot pot meal. The base level of recognition within the Michelin Guide is "selected restaurants," followed by "Bib Gourmand," and then finally you have your one, two, and three star statuses. 

How do the Michelin Guide awards work?

The levels of distinction within the Michelin Guide can be confusing if you're not familiar with the system. Restaurants are awarded Michelin stars by secret spies who travel, dine, and debate ratings, and then ultimately make decisions. Establishments are evaluated based on five criteria. The taste of the food and quality of the ingredients are big factors, but the chef's vision, the restaurant regularly serving quality food, and even pricing also come into consideration. One star means the restaurant is worth a stop, two means it's worth a detour, and three-star establishments are worth planning an entire trip around. 

The Bib Gourmand award is given to eateries that offer an amazing three-course meal, but at a more affordable price. Establishments can also be recognized in the Guide without being awarded a specific star or other designation. These restaurants are judged using the same criteria, but don't quite meet the standards to earn larger recognition, although some do go on to ultimately win stars or Bib Gourmand honors.

The Green Star is given to restaurants with the highest level of ethical and sustainable business practices. Although the eateries with this award have different qualities, Michelin claims that all are making a difference and acting as role models for sustainability. Generally, Green Star awardees are committed to eco-friendly practices, work with sustainable producers, and can even be doing work to remove plastics from supply chains.