Michelin Restaurants Orange County
Credit: Andrew Bui

20 Michelin Guide Restaurants in Anaheim and Orange County

Dine at These Critically-Acclaimed Restaurants in Our Own Backyard

Life’s too short to not make every meal count, and in Orange County, Michelin-recommended restaurants are more common than you might think. Here you can dine like a royal in penthouse suites or find life-changing ramen bowls at tucked-away locales. For many chefs and restaurateurs, achieving Michelin recognition is the pinnacle of their career—an acknowledgment for pushing the boundaries of culinary innovation. 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. They also award restaurants that deliver delicious eats at a good value with the Bib Gourmand designation. Find your new neighborhood go-to or celebrate a special night out at these 20 Michelin-recognized restaurants in Orange County

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​THE RANCH Restaurant & Saloon 

Michelin Recommended 

If rustic yet elegant is your favored vibe, make plans for a date night at ​THE RANCH Restaurant & Saloon in Anaheim. With ingredients grown on THE RANCH Farm, this establishment delivers on its mission to emphasize fresh and seasonal food on all their menus. Select from mountain lamb flown in from Colorado and mindfully sourced seafood selections, as well as an expert curation of farm-inspired beverages. A night here cannot go wrong when you start with a Lock, Stock & Barrel—their seasonal barrel-aged cocktail. Located on the ground floor of the Extron Electronics headquarters, THE RANCH is more than a foodie destination—you’ll want to saddle up to the saloon next door for the live concerts and country dancing. 

Location: Anaheim

 

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

 

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, then let the smoked chicken salad with tangy citrus vinaigrette cleanse the palate; enjoy the chicharron-topped crispy duck tacos as your main.

Location: Tustin

 

Poppy & Seed

Michelin Recommended 

Michelin Restaurants Orange County
Credit: Brianna Danner

Experience the appeal of 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. While flowering citrus trees set the secret garden scene, 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. Start with the steak tartare toast and graduate to the branzino, or consider going for the eight-course tasting menu at this quintessential Anaheim restaurant. Sip and savor the flavors of the season—a meal at Poppy & Seed never disappoints.

Location: Anaheim

 

Taira Sushi & Sake 

Michelin Recommended

Credit: Luigi Pozzoli

Connoisseurs of Japanese food know this golden rule: some of the best sushi restaurants are located in the most nondescript of locations. ​Taira Sushi & Sake is one such restaurant—a tiny spot, located in a mall, that delivers large on flavor and experience. Chefs Ben and Ayako Sato take care of the details, writing the menu nightly on paper and greeting guests with a warm hospitality. While we recommend the omakase, you can also order á la carte—or hop in for a snack-heavy izakaya experience. Michelin highlights include the seared kanpachi and the hearty stewed fish cheeks—should they show up on the menu again.   

Location: Garden Grove

 

Phởholic 

Michelin Recommended

Credit: Rosalind Chang

There’s no shame in owning a craving, and when pho is the only bowl that will satisfy, Phởholic is the go-to spot. Phởholic has three locations: Westminster, Costa Mesa and Stanton. The original in Westminster is the most popular, attracting both old and young generations. Pick a noodle and a meat, then sip on a Vietnamese iced coffee while you wait. The anise-scented soup is served in large metal bowls, made with high-quality ingredients and delivered in abundance. This one is shamelessly made for the Sriracha-loving crowd. 

Location: Westminster, Costa Mesa and Stanton

 

Garlic & Chives 

Michelin Recommended

It’s rare to find a restaurant that accommodates groups on a moment’s notice, and even rarer to find one that leaves everyone satiated. Located in the Mall of Fortune, Garlic & Chives welcomes a crew, having designed a menu for feasting. Family-style dining is the key here—fill a table with holy crunchy chicken wings, grilled shrimp noodles, shaken tofu and maybe a hot pot or two. And if you have an hour to spare, order the Chef’s Special: the baked crispy catfish with boiled pork—enough to feed a crowd. Don’t leave without trying the sticky rice with mango, a classic way to end an epic Vietnamese meal.

Location: Garden Grove

 

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 recipes beat those of the family behind Phở 79. This mom-and-pop Vietnamese restaurant in Little Saigon has been serving up some of the best bowls of pho in SoCal since 1982. They feature a variety of beef cuts, but the oxtail pho is the restaurant’s signature dish. Another no-frills spot, Phở 79, is recognizable by its bright yellow wall. Put your name on the clipboard near the front door and know that the bowls are worth the wait.

Location: Garden Grove

 

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 fifteen locations, including Orange, Tustin and Irvine, 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 a slow-simmered pork bone broth that achieves sublimity with every bite. The secret to their sauce is the sauce: a 20-hour stock combined with a touch of soy sauce aged like fine wine in 300-year-old barrels. Order the Tonkotsu Ramen, and thank us later!

Locations: 15 Orange County locations

 

Hana Re Sushi

One Michelin Star

A Costa Mesa hidden gem, Hana Re is a destination worth seeking out for an intimate culinary art show by Chef Atsushi Yokoyama. Look for the rainbow-streaked exterior and prepare to let the no-frills interior steal the show. The one-man production takes place behind Hana Re’s 10-top counter, allowing Chef Yokoyama to curate unforgettable experiences for guests. The sashimi is practically too pretty to eat, often referred to as “art in food form.” This quiet neighborhood spot 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 Michelin Star in 2021 for their contemporary takes on authentic French flavors—think buttery soft halibut with crispy skin in a decadent white wine reduction. Knife Pleat is precise in presentation and aspires for quality in all things, from the menu to the 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

 

Bello by Sandro Nardone

Michelin Recommended 

Fusing traditional Italian cuisine with Asian-style elements, owner and renowned chef Sandro Nardone prides himself on bringing a bit of his Italian hometown to the Newport Beach community. Seasonal produce sourced fresh from the farmer’s market is the backbone of Bello by Sandro Nardone, translating into quality dishes reminiscent of a night out in Italy. Guests can choose between signature and rotating plates on the lunch and dinner menus or treat themselves to an elevated fine dining experience with the chef’s signature pre-fixe omakase menu. Pork belly with Fresno chile agrodolce and cooked hanger steak served alongside a spinach purée are just a few highlights off the menu that earned this trattoria its recognition from the Michelin Guide.

Location: Newport Beach

 

LSXO

Michelin Recommended 

Tucked neatly within its parent restaurant, you’ll find the obscure entrance to LSXO within the light and airy dining space of Huntington Beach’s Bluegold. This modern Vietnamese and French speakeasy isn’t exactly a secret now that word is out about its Michelin star-approved dishes. An edgy, intimate tone sets the scene in this secluded sanctuary, balanced by ocean views harbored behind heavy drapes. With an oh-so-delicious spread of home-style Southeast Asian fare, the carefully curated menu is brimming with exotic, inventive plates, like Pho Spiced Oxtail Torchon, Bo Ne Saigon Steak and Eggs and Salt and Pepper Lobster with curried seafood rice—all dishes that pair perfectly with a Jin and Julius or Hattori Hanzo. 

Location: Huntington Beach

 

Momoyama

Michelin Recommended 

Managed by award-winning sushi chef Taiki Kuramoto, are we even surprised Momoyama made its way onto our list? His sashimi pizza might have earned him the top spot in Hulu’s “Best in Dough” competition, but that’s not the only dish that will have your taste buds in seventh heaven. A simple and serene interior projects a pleasing aesthetic to the eye, yet it’s a striking contrast to the restaurant’s vibrant, quirky omakase menus. Scoot up to the sushi bar for an interactive five-star experience featuring dry-aged and smoked Hokkaido scallops and Edomae-style sushi. Fresh albacore with chia seeds and Wagyu cream croquettes with a Wagyu stock sauce are just a few of the most mouthwatering pieces inside Fountain Valley’s favorite raw bar.

Location: Fountain Valley

 

Habana

Michelin Recommended 

Credit: Rob Stark

While it may stir up memories of Camila Cabello’s chart-topping single, rest assured you’ll walk away from a night out at Habana reminiscing on pork croquetas and vegetable empanadas instead. Outfitted with a trendy, ornate interior that features wrought-iron chandeliers, reclaimed wooden tables and a vintage tiled bar, appearances only scratch the surface of this Cuban concept. Quality can be found in every last detail at Habana, from banana-habanero ketchup and mango jicama slaw to cornflake-crusted brioche buns. Doubling as a bakery and restaurant, warm up your tastebuds with a pastry or two before settling in with the Rum Pepper Shrimp and their fan-favorite cocktail, El Centro, ‘Pa Dentro.

Location: Irvine and Costa Mesa

 

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 a 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

 

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 the 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 served to you on a mini street cart! 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 halal 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, Michelin-recommended restaurant easily fits into the gallery-lined downtown Santa Ana historic district, yet the real masterpieces are plates of seafood and pork belly tacos. Blue corn tortillas topped with Oaxaca cheese are a comforting classic, or you can 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 a Saturday when live music starts at 7 p.m.

Location: Santa Ana

 

Todos Santos

Michelin Recommended 

The aesthetic presentation of tempura and halibut wrapped up tightly in a steaming flour tortilla alone could have won Todos Santos some serious recognition from foodies. Mexican cantinas are a dime a dozen in Orange County, but the patio lights of this Rancho Santa Margarita hotspot tend to shine just a little bit brighter. Rooted in flavors from the Baja Peninsula, their menu is a mishmash of mezcal, taco trios and raw bar delicacies, like tuna tataki tostadas. One night out in this cheerful, open-concept eatery, and we know you’ll walk away wishing for just one more mouthful of their lobster enchiladas and papas bravas tacos.

Location: Rancho Santa Margarita

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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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