What’s the difference between MICHELIN Recommended vs. MICHELIN Star?

fine-dining chef

As most restaurant owners will know, MICHELIN stars are one of the highest accolades you can receive. But do you fully understand the MICHELIN rating system and how it differs from other accolades, like Bib Gourmand and  MICHELIN Recommended? Here, we demystify MICHELIN’s methodology and break down what each distinction signifies, along with how to interpret these prestigious seals of approval.

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What is the difference?
MICHELIN star overview
Bib Gourmand overview
MICHELIN recommended overview
Which one is better?
How many MICHELIN-star restaurants in the US?
How to get a MICHELIN star

What’s the difference between the two?

While MICHELIN stars specifically rate the quality of a restaurant’s food, the MICHELIN Recommended designation more broadly covers entire cities and countries to highlight local dining establishments. These fall under the brand, MICHELIN Guide, along with Bib Gourmands (more on that shortly). MICHELIN stars are awarded on a 0-3 star scale. 

Making the guide is also a privilege on its own based on MICHELIN’s anonymous inspectors. The MICHELIN Guide provides information beyond star ratings, including restaurant genres, contact details, pricing and sample dishes. While the stars spotlight the pinnacle of fine dining, the guide is comprehensive in covering high-quality dining experiences accessible to more diners on various budgets.


The MICHELIN Guide provides curated selections of the best dining experiences in a given area, covering more restaurants than only the starred establishments. While inclusion alone is a pretty big deal in demonstrating quality cooking, the guides help steer travellers and locals alike to recommended restaurants that suit their personal tastes, budgets and preferences when exploring a city. 

These guides are updated annually and have become trusted resources for recognising dining excellence across a wide spectrum.

For restaurants listed in the guides, you can find valuable practical information, including:

  • Type of cuisine or dining experience offered
  • Price range using a symbol system designating affordability
  • Precise contact details and location
  • Sample speciality dishes and signature offerings
  • Sommelier and wine program notes
  • Service experience and ambience reviews

MICHELIN Star overview

For over a century, MICHELIN stars have signified excellence in cooking and become one of the most prestigious international hallmarks in the restaurant industry. MICHELIN stars are awarded solely on the quality and technique of the food and wines served by anonymous inspectors. Restaurants can earn between one to three stars based on strict criteria:

  • One star indicates a very good restaurant in its category, with high-quality ingredients cooked exceptionally. Making the MICHELIN Guide itself is considered a big achievement.
  • Two stars represent excellent cuisine worth making a detour for, using imaginatively crafted plates reflecting mastery of technique.
  • The pinnacle three stars are awarded to restaurants with exceptional cuisine worth a special journey, often featuring boldly creative dishes and flawless execution using the finest ingredients.

There are approximately 153 three-MICHELIN-star restaurants worldwide — so joining these ranks is a monumental achievement requiring unwavering excellence. MICHELIN also awards special symbols like a clover or arrow for affordability or consistency between guides. 

The meticulous inspection process means MICHELIN stars continue to be the gold standard in recognising culinary brilliance across the globe.

Bib Gourmand overview

The Bib Gourmand is a MICHELIN distinction awarded to restaurants offering high-quality food at moderate prices. These spots serve carefully prepared, flavourful dishes that include two courses and a glass of wine or dessert for a set price. The Bib Gourmand recognizes diverse cuisines and dining styles, from casual neighborhood spots to buzzing bistros, that provide excellent value for money while maintaining MICHELIN’s rigorous standards for hospitality and culinary craftsmanship.

While MICHELIN stars focus solely on rating the quality of food, and Bib Gourmand is an award in its own right, MICHELIN Recommended means a restaurant has been recognized by the MICHELIN Guide for serving food to a high level but hasn’t yet been awarded. Even though it’s not an official award, being recommended by the MICHELIN Guide is an honour in its own right.


Which one is best?

MICHELIN stars undoubtedly carry immense prestige and reverently honour the highest echelon of fine dining experiences. A Bib Gourmand is also an award of excellence. However, MICHELIN Recommended listings also represent special recognition for meeting stringent quality thresholds across a broader range of dining establishments.

The distinctions fundamentally serve different purposes. MICHELIN stars specifically benchmark the very best cuisine at the top levels of technique, creativity and ingredient quality – setting the bar for excellence in gastronomy. 

In contrast, MICHELIN Recommended provide a widely accessible resource for diners to discover remarkable meals in their local area across a spectrum of cuisines, price points and service styles.

The “better” recognition, therefore, depends on specific goals and context. For benchmarking the world’s most exceptional fine dining, MICHELIN stars reign supreme. But as a practical tool for diners and travellers, MICHELIN Recommended delivers invaluable curated selections showcasing each location’s specialties. At their core, both distinctions showcase dedication to hospitality, creativity and culinary craft to help diners connect with transformative dining experiences.

Rather than competing, the two tiers, along with Bib Gourmand, work to celebrate the breadth of global dining, from once-in-a-lifetime meals to neighborhood establishments that delight communities. MICHELIN recognizes excellence at all levels.

How many MICHELIN Star restaurants are in the US?

Featuring over 200 MICHELIN-starred establishments, the US has some of the best fine dining spots in the world. The breadth of American culinary excellence spans fine dining spots in New York City to regional restaurants reinventing their local cuisine.

Three-Star restaurants in 2024

There are also 32 two-star restaurants, such as Jônt. As for one-star spots, the US is home to nearly 200, with restaurants including Ariete, Boka, and Kato.

Ranging from New York City’s luxury dining rooms to picturesque inns in the heart of wine country, the US’s constellation of MICHELIN-recognized restaurants illuminates the country’s extraordinary dining capabilities across diverse styles and settings. With its complex mosaic of gastronomic traditions continually evolving through innovation, the US dining scene promises ever more stars on the horizon.

How can I get a MICHELIN Star?

Obtaining the coveted MICHELIN stars requires dedicating yourself to achieving perfection across all elements of the dining experience. Here is some guidance for reaching this pinnacle of culinary acclaim. 

Focus obsessively on food quality

This is the central focus of MICHELIN’s anonymous inspectors. Source only the finest, freshest ingredients and devote yourself to mastering cooking techniques, flavour balancing and impeccable presentation. Elevate dishes through technical prowess and innovation while retaining the integrity of ingredients.

Craft consistently exceptional meals

MICHELIN stars demand unwavering consistency – dedicate your team to flawless execution of every single dish – to perfectionist standards. Standardize recipes while still allowing creativity to shine.

Instil passion for hospitality

Building an outstanding front-of-house team is key. Meticulous service must match the food quality. Warm, genuine hospitality makes the overall experience memorable beyond just cuisine.

Offer value for the price point

The experience should feel special relative to the price charged. Whether in an intimate, lower-priced bistro or a luxury establishment, diners should perceive dishes as excellent value.

Obsess over each detail

MICHELIN inspectors notice every nuance, from flatware to acoustics. The lighting, interior design, table settings and wine pairing all enhance the cohesion of the dining experience.

While earning MICHELIN stars requires tireless effort and dedication, the recognition they bring can transform perceptions of dining at your restaurant. Stay focused on excellence, consistency and hospitality to reach those coveted stars.

Summary: the MICHELIN Guide

MICHELIN stars highlight the apex of fine dining, Bib Gourmand showcases excellence at a lower price point and MICHELIN Recommended provides a breadth of dining options. All distinctions fundamentally champion hospitality and culinary excellence. By sharing diverse perspectives on remarkable cuisine worldwide, the MICHELIN Guide illuminates the joys of dining as a shared human experience at all levels of cooking.