When Michelin first announced it was producing restaurant guides for not just New York but San Francisco, Los Angeles and Las Vegas, I wondered how the venerable French star system would hold up in more casual cities. After all, just because Bandini gives El Parian five tacos doesn't mean the Michelin inspectors would even deign to set foot there.
Michelin hosted a lovely Beverly Wilshire hotel lunch -- impeccable service, by the way -- to explain a little bit more about how the process works. Jean-Luc Naret, director of all the Michelin guides, said he knows that the common impression of L.A. is that "there's more stars around the table than on the plates."
"But just because it's very casual doesn't mean that it's not good," says Naret. He explained that the inspectors work for the guide full-time and are generally people with a passion for food who have worked as chefs, sommeliers, etc. And indeed, although the San Franciso guide only doled out a three-star rating to the French Laundry (by this measure, Los Angeles is unlikely to end up with any three-stars), the guide itself is quite democratic. Granted, there's no taco trucks or roving tamale ladies, but there are several stalwart San Francisco budget eats places like Burma Superstar. There's also a page of suggestions on where to eat for less than $25 and a category called "Bib Gourmand," where two courses and a glass of wine can be had for $35. And there's just as many Japanese restaurants listed as French, so it doesn't seem overly Franco-centric. Citybeat also sat down with Naret -- here's their Q & A on the Michelin guide, which will be published in November for both L.A. and Las Vegas.