According to the NPD Group, there were over 600,000 restaurants in the United States in the fall of 2012. For those in an Austin culinary arts program, this number probably hardly comes as a surprise, considering the vast array of renowned eateries in the state of Texas. Of course, this number has likely only grown as more and more people become involved in the farm-to-table movement. Needless to say, with all the great restaurants spread across the nation, the food industry can get rather competitive. Of course, the system for picking out the creme de la creme of dining facilities is the highly renowned Michelin star. Out of all the eateries in the U.S., only around 136 establishments have earned one. Of that handful, only 20 have received two Michelin stars and only 9 have garnered three. While the culinary map of the U.S. is diverse and plentiful, the minute number of three-star restaurants are all in major cities.
North of San Francisco lies two of the nation’s finest eateries. Of course, the Bay Area is home to the well-renowned French Laundry, and it is also home to The Restaurant at Meadowood. The French Laundry is run by chef Thomas Keller, and the building is planted on three acres of lush gardens. The French Laundry, as well as The Restaurant at Meadowood, is in the heart of Napa Valley, making it the perfect venue for any food and wine aficionado.
The Windy City is home to Alinea, a Midwestern treasure that boasts an extensive tasting menu. Known for its incognito presence on Halsted Street, Alinea is a seeming funhouse of unexpected culinary creations. Chef and owner Grant Achatz is lauded for his whimsical take on molecular gastronomy. However, the endless courses and showmanship come at a hefty price tag, usually costing around $500 per person.
New York boasts six restaurants that have earned three Michelin stars. This culinary upper echelon consists of Per Se, La Bernardin, Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare, Jean-Georges, Masa and Eleven Madison Park. It’s no surprise that the Big Apple is such a focal point of culinary excellence considering it’s the most populous city in the US.
Looking across the country, there are dozens of foodie capitals popping up in every state. But at the end of the day, these major cities are still the only ones to claim the food industry’s most coveted three Michelin star prize.