The Michelin Guide was first envisioned by the Michelin brothers André and Édouard in 1900. For those of you who recognise the name, the Michelin brothers had started a tyre company 11 years previously and from that decided to create a rating guide for hotels and restaurants in a bid to get motorists to travel more regularly and in turn, wear out their tyres!
Today, the Michelin Guide is considered one of the highest honours in the food industry and it’s a sign that you’ve succeeded at the highest level as a chef. According to the guide, when a restaurant is awarded a Michelin Star, it’s a sign that the restaurant is very good. Two stars mean the food is ‘excellent cooking that is worth a detour’ and three stars mean that it has ‘exceptional cuisine that is worth a special journey’.
With that in mind, we wanted to find out what are the most popular 3-Star restaurants across the globe and which country currently reigns as the Michelin food centre of the world.
Countries covered by the Michelin Guide
It has taken The Michelin Guide over a century to extend its reach to just 33 countries. The following table looks at how many Michelin Star restaurants (and what star ratings they have achieved) each of those countries currently has:
The Michelin guide includes an incredible 2,813 Michelin-star rated restaurants across 33 separate countries. Interestingly, although the Michelin guide started in 1900, it didn’t add the 1-Star ranking until 1926 and only expanded to the 3-Star ranking in 1931. Surprisingly , France didn’t receive their first 3-Star rank until 1965 but now holds twenty-eight in total. Japan was late to the game and didn’t receive its first 3-Star ranking restaurant until 2007. Today, Japan has thirty-five 3-Star Michelin restaurants (as of 2019).
Winners by number of 3-Stars per city
If we compare the number of 3-Stars per city, we can see that both Tokyo and Paris are the only locations to break into double digits. Interestingly, a Japanese city breaks into the top ten, 4 separate times, with Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and Sapporo beating off some of the most prestigious cities in the world.
The Top Twenty 3-Star Michelin Restaurants Rated by Trip Advisor
For our top twenty rated restaurants we’ve taken establishments with a 3-Star Michelin rating and with over 1,000 reviews on Trip Advisor. We then ordered them by the highest overall percentage of ‘Excellent Reviews’, which is when a reviewer has given the restaurant a 5-Star rating. In the case of restaurants with an identical review rating, we’ve then ranked them by the total number of reviews.
A full list can be found at https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1lb1s5VxWRetNwgKZBWoXW5jORnCDl3RhIzwa24p2cL8/edit?usp=sharing
France is internationally known for its incredible array of food and currently holds six positions in the top twenty. Epicure, France’s best-reviewed restaurant comes in 3rd. place, with 2,560 reviews and 88% of reviewers considering their experience ‘excellent’.
Spanish cuisine has a very good showing in the list too, taking both 1st and 2nd place in our top twenty. With 2,640 reviews and with 91% of reviewers considering their experience ‘excellent’, the El Celler de Can Roca is our highest rated 3-Star restaurant in Spain and our overall highest rated restaurant.
Italy holds four restaurants in the top twenty, with its highest rated restaurant holding 5th place. With 1,275 reviews, Uliassi is Italy’s top rated 3-Star Michelin restaurant with 86% of reviewers considering their experience ‘excellent’.
Shedding the stereotype of having terrible food, the UK holds three restaurants in this top twenty list. Some food lovers won’t be surprised to see The Fat Duck toping the UK’s list of 3-Star Michelin restaurants with 2,937 reviews and 82% of reviewers considering their experience ‘excellent’.
Surprisingly, the US holds just two spots in this list. Coming in 10th place, Alinea is the highest rated 3-Star Michelin restaurant in the US with 1,388 reviews and with 82% of reviewers considering their experience excellent.
The Longest Held 3-Star Michelin Restaurants
The history of the Michelin brothers starts in France, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the oldest 3-Star restaurants are situated in France (apart from the UK’s The Waterside Inn). What is interesting though is that they’ve maintained their 3-Star rating for the entire time. However, we’ve seen a number of restaurants lose and then regain their 3-Star status. Such as Mizai in Japan, who gained their 3rd Star in 2010, only to lose it in 2012 and re-acquire it in 2014.
France dominates this table, however, we can see that the UK was the 2nd country in the world to receive the coveted 3-Star status and was closely followed by Spain.
The Newest 3-Star Awarded Michelin Restaurants
On the other end of the scale, let’s take a look at the newest recipients of 3-Stars. This year alone we’ve seen the addition of three new Asian entries and six new Western entries. Asia has made a tremendous impact on the Michelin guide with the first 3-Star titles given to four restaurants in Japan in 2008. Today, forty-nine separate restaurants across Asia hold the coveted award.
Finally, we wanted to judge each country by the number of Michelin ranks it holds. To do so we analysed the number of Michelin restaurants in each country and added together the total number of stars across all star categories. Here are our results:
With an incredible 731 Michelin stars, Japan outstrips both France (with 621 stars) and Italy (with 367 stars) to become our ‘Michelin Cuisine Centre of the World’. You can find the full data here.