Michelin Restaurants Orange County
Credit: Andrew Bui
Michelin Restaurants Orange County
Credit: Andrew Bui

13 OC Restaurants You Didn’t Know Were Michelin-Approved

Dine at These Critically-Acclaimed Restaurants in Our Own Backyard

Life’s too short not to make every meal count, and in Orange County, Michelin-recommended restaurants are not as rare as you might think. In the OC, you can dine like a royal in penthouse suites or find life-changing ramen bowls at tucked-away locales. For many restaurateurs, achieving Michelin recognition is the pinnacle of their career—an acknowledgment for pushing the boundaries of culinary innovation and creating a destination where beauty, food and flavor create an unforgettable dining experience. While not all restaurants have earned a coveted star (or two, or three), Michelin does recognize plenty of establishments for the outstanding food they serve. In addition, the Bib Gourmand designation awards places that combine outstanding eats with good value. Find your new neighborhood go-to or celebrate a special night out at these 14 Michelin-recognized restaurants in Orange County


HiroNori Craft Ramen

Bib Gourmand: good quality, good value cooking

Hiro Igarashi and Nori Akasaka moved to America to perfect the ramen game at any and all costs. Igarashi even tried to sell his organs to open the business! HiroNori now operates in six locations to meet the demand for their shoyu ramen bowls. Housemade noodles are made with a recipe so delicate that they change monthly based on the weather. It also includes pork bone broth that is so rich, it seems milky. The secret to the sauce is a 20-hour stock and soy sauce aged like fine wine in 300-year-old barrels. Order the Tonkotsu Ramen and thank us later!

Location: Irvine


Poppy & Seed

Michelin Recommended 

Michelin Restaurants Orange County
Credit: Brianna Danner

You’ll quickly forget that you’re in Anaheim while dining alfresco over steak tartare and blistered shishito peppers. At Poppy & Seed, organic gardens grow just feet from the greenhouse-inspired lounge and bar. Flowering citrus trees create the setting of a secret garden, but we’re here to talk about the food. Chef and co-owner Michael Reed focuses on sustainably grown, raised and caught ingredients in his thoughtfully plated dishes. Reed’s earthy-sweet combo of ruby-red strawberries and roasted beets is a must-try at this quintessentially SoCal destination. Sip and savor the flavors of the season—a meal at Poppy & Seed never disappoints.

Location: Anaheim 



Hana Re Sushi

One Michelin Star

A Costa Mesa hidden gem, Hana Re is a destination worth seeking for an intimate art show by Chef Atsushi Yokoyama. Look for the rainbow-streaked exterior, but find that the no-frills interior lets the sushi steal the show. The one-man production takes place behind Hana Re’s 10-top counter, allowing Yokoyama to gauge each guest’s reactions during the omakase experience and curate unforgettable experiences for them throughout the evening. The sashimi is practically too pretty to eat and is often referred to as “art in food form.” This quiet neighborhood gem also has a top-notch sake list, and you’ll want to save room for the almond panna cotta.

Location: Costa Mesa


Knife Pleat

One Michelin Star

Intimate and elegant, Knife Pleat is the ultimate date-night spot in Costa Mesa. Chef Tony Esnault and his team were first awarded a coveted Michelin Star in 2021 for their contemporary takes on authentic French flavors—think buttery soft sea bream with crispy skin in a decadent white wine reduction. Knife Pleat is precise in presentation and quality in all things, from the menu to interior design. Walk into the open-kitchen restaurant in South Coast Plaza’s penthouse and request a table on the quiet patio. The set menu and wine pairings are deceptively simple, honoring the pure flavors of every ingredient.

Location: Costa Mesa



Phở 79

Bib Gourmand: good quality, good value cooking

Credit: Calvin Hang

Nothing beats a family recipe, and according to the Michelin critics and Garden Grove locals, no recipe beats those of the family behind Pho 79. This mom-and-pop Vietnamese restaurant in Little Saigon has been ladling some of the best bowls of pho in SoCal since 1982. They specialize in a variety of beef cuts, but the oxtail pho is the restaurant’s signature dish. Another no-frills spot, Pho 79, is recognizable by its bright yellow wall. Put your name on the clipboard by the front door and know that the pho bowls are worth the wait.

Location: Garden Grove


Fable & Spirit

Bib Gourmand: good quality, good value cooking

Behind Fable & Spirit’s infamous yellow door is an elegant teal dining room with star-like chandeliers resembling a sparkling sea. This Irish-inspired fine-dining destination in Newport Beach is run by Executive Chef David Shofner, who plays on the California dream with plant-forward cuisine. You’ll want to order everything, but don’t skip the roasted cauliflower with spicy green harissa, curry caramelized onions and crunchy toasted almonds. Pair it with textbook-perfect short rib dressed in sweet barbecue glaze. No meal is complete without a cocktail or two! Our favorite is the Fairy’s Revenge, a Roku gin elixir with blood orange bitters.

Location: Newport Beach


CHAAK Kitchen

Bib Gourmand: good quality, good value cooking

Michelin Restaurants Orange County
Credit: Chaak Kitchen

Dine under the stars at this Tustin rooftop kitchen, serving up a taste of the Yucatán Peninsula. Chef Gabbi Patrick’s parents emigrated from Mexico and didn’t leave a single tradition behind when it came to the kitchen. Influenced by her parents and her travels, Patrick’s cuisine meddles exotic Mayan spices with Caribbean-inspired flavors and Mexican soul. The greenhouse-style interior is bright and airy, with views into the scratch kitchen. Start the night with Mezcal cocktails flavored with mole bitters, let the smoked chicken salad with tangy citrus vinaigrette cleanse the palate and enjoy the chicharron-topped crispy duck tacos as your main.

Location: Tustin


Heritage Barbecue

Bib Gourmand: good quality, good value cooking

Credit: John Troxell

Perfectly in line with the Old West vibe of historic San Juan Capistrano, Heritage is a rustic barbecue stand smoking mouthwatering meats you can smell all the way from the mission. Behind the humble saloon is what the Michelin guide declares “the best barbecue in California.” Melt-in-your-mouth brisket is marked with a red smoke ring from the oak-burning barbecue and pork ribs slide right off the bone. People line up all afternoon for Chef and Owner Daniel Castillo’s flanks of juicy, tender, mesquite-smoked meats.

Local Insight: Pair your barbecue with a craft Heritage beer from the tasting room next door.

Location: San Juan Capistrano


Khan Saab Desi Craft Kitchen

Bib Gourmand: good quality, good value cooking

Michelin Restaurants Orange County
Credit: Andrew Bui

Fullerton’s Khan Saab unites the flavors of Pakistan, Afghanistan and India into a diverse 100% halal menu. Street food favorites get an elevated twist in the kitchen, helmed by Chef Imran Ali Mookhi. Traditional fresh fried Pani Puri dough balls are even served to you on mini rolling street carts! Like the colorful flavors, the decor is bright and hip, with a mural of bustling Afghanistan streets covering the back wall. At Khan Saab, meat is king, but the mocktails are easily as notable as the food. Coup glasses overflow with vapor, and flame-torched non-alcoholic negronis highlight hala tradition.

Location: Fullerton


El Mercado Modern Cuisine

Michelin Recommended 

Michelin dining doesn’t have to break the bank. Adventure through the vibrant regions of Mexico one plate at a time in the sultry, velvet-adorned dining room of El Mercado. Weekend brunch, happy hour and Taco Tuesday ensure there’s always a time and place for El Mercado to fit into your restaurant rotation. With local art covering the walls, this Mexican-inspired outlet easily fits into the gallery-lined downtown Santa Ana historic district, but the real masterpieces are plates of seafood and pork belly tacos. Blue corn tortillas pooling with Oaxaca cheese are a comforting classic or opt for something out of your element with tequila-glazed octopus.

Local Insight: To set the mood for date night, dine at El Mercado on the weekends when live music starts at 7 p.m.

Location: Santa Ana


Gabbi’s Mexican Kitchen

Bib Gourmand: good quality, good value cooking

Follow the wafting scent of freshly fried corn tortillas to the heart of the Orange Circle, where Gabbi’s warm and inviting hacienda boasts locally sourced ingredients and south-of-the-border flavors. Like the old-town feel of Orange, the cuisine of Gabbi’s highlights the heritage of Mexico. Spice-forward flavors reinvent California classics like the shrimp enchiladas, which are served with decidedly creamy poblano sauce. Tortillas are handmade to order and served warm tableside. Gabbi’s margaritas are revered, so order the mezcal marg and enjoy it by the glass-blown art wall while you wait!

Location: Orange


Ramen & Tsukemen TAO

Bib Gourmand: good quality, good value cooking

This dunk-and-dip ramen restaurant is known for soul-satisfying ramen bowls with creamy broths that are more sauce-like than soupy. You’ll be slurping down every last drop of the noodle novelties spun up by owner and Chef Toshimasa Sano, who worked in famed Toyoko restaurants before graciously sharing his gifts with the Buena Park community. The unassuming exterior is easy to miss if you aren’t looking for this 20-seat, no-fuss facility. The concise menu features just four ramen dishes and two pork buns, but the choice is simple. Try the Spicy red miso ramen—it’s a stick-to-your-ribs kind of meal that is oh-so satisfying.

Location: Buena Park


Oliver’s Osteria

Michelin Recommended 

Oliver’s Osteria has been a gate-kept Laguna staple but is now rising in the ranks of OC’s foodie favorites. Scratch-made pastas are authentic to the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, and this hideaway nods to both Laguna’s art culture and Italy’s warm hospitality, with artwork adorning the walls and a cozy feel. The veal chop could rival any steakhouse, but the pastas steal the show. Plus, Oliver’s Osteria has a separate menu for all things truffle, so you can’t leave without trying a black truffle dish. 

Location: Laguna Beach and Irvine (coming soon)


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Lover of the beach, food and fitness, Emily enjoys exploring all sunny Southern California has to offer! She has a passion for sharing about her favorite local gems and began writing for Locale in 2022. On the weekends, find her creating recipes for her food blog or out in Laguna!




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