Chicago skyline
Michelin has made headlines recently for pushing out guides as a result of partnerships with local tourist boards Image Credit: Pixabay

The Michelin Guide has been on an expansion tear lately. In the past two months, it announced inaugural stars for restaurants in Atlanta as well as Colorado, plus a guide for Mexico in 2024.

But when it comes to three of America's most recognizable culinary destinations, the storied guide has decided to consolidate: New York, Chicago and Washington have now been folded into one multi-starred package.

Combined, they represent a total of 117 starred restaurants. The lists for all three cities were announced together at a live event at Spring Studios in New York on Tuesday night.

The biggest news came out of Chicago. Smyth, which has a deceptively simple, ingredient-focused menu and homey vibe courtesy of chefs John Shields and Karen Urie Shields, was promoted to three stars. It is now one of 14 three-star restaurants in the US and represents rare movement at the top of the chain, where restaurant names seem to be carved in stone. Among the dishes you might find on the $285 tasting menu: egg yolk-glazed uni with habanada pepper and cheese doughnuts.

Two other restaurants with cause to celebrate were the high-end Japanese restaurants Sushi Noz and Odo in New York. Both were elevated from one-star restaurants to two. At Noz, on the Upper East Side, the $495 omakase menu highlights aged fish with dishes like hay-smoked bonito sashimi. Odo, in the Flatiron District, serves a kaiseki, the multi-plate tasting menu, at an elegant counter hidden behind a cocktail bar.

"This proves that Japanese cuisine is at the top of its game in New York," said Joshua Foulquier, co-owner of Sushi Noz. "It feels like just the beginning for us and will push us to go father and work harder."

Michelin Guide Dubai announces its 2023 list
Michelin Guide Dubai announced their recognitions for 2023 in May. There are 14 Michelin-Star restaurants in Dubai

The restaurants highlight Michelin's predilection for Japanese restaurants. A quarter of the 71 starred restaurants in New York feature Japanese food, and five have 'sushi' in their name. Korean food has also caught the eye of Michelin inspectors: There are now almost a dozen starred spots in the city, including the high-end meat focused tasting counter Bōm.

A notable addition to the one-star list was Torrisi, the Major Food Group's jammed Italian-American dining room in Soho that's headed up by chef Rich Torrisi. Its sister restaurant Carbone, however, didn't get back the star it lost last year. ("Restaurants are re-visited in preparation for each new selection," said the guide's chief inspector for North America about its ranking. He spoke on condition of anonymity because of his job.)

This year, Michelin stripped a star from another popular Italian spot: Don Angie, the impossible-to-get-into stylized red sauce dining room in the West Village. The city also lost one of its three-star restaurants with the abrupt departure of chef Cesar Ramirez from Chef's Table at Brooklyn Fare, which then temporarily closed.

There are now 71 starred dining rooms in the city, two less than last year. Among the notable omissions: Tatiana, the terrific restaurant from chef Kwame Onwuachi that celebrates the food of New York and his heritage in Africa and the Caribbean, did not get a star. And the exquisite Korean tasting menu spot Atomix, which hit No. 8 on this year's Worlds 50 Best Restaurant list, continues to top out at two stars.

Michelin has made headlines recently for pushing out guides as a result of partnerships with local tourist boards. In Florida, it was reported that both state and local tourism agencies paid an estimated $1.5 million for Michelin in Miami, Orlando and Tampa for a guide that was announced in 2022; in Colorado the figure was reported to be $600,000 for five cities within the state (regions that didn't contribute to the pot weren't considered).

International Director Gwendal Poullennec says he realizes that the country can reach peak Michelin, at least in terms of events. "As the Michelin Guide continues to grow in North America, we recognize the importance of retaining the sense of community and camaraderie in each destination while also making sure there isn't an overabundance of Michelin Guide ceremonies, which might water down the excitement and intrigue," he said over email.

In other Chicago news, the nine-month-old tasting menu restaurant Atelier earned a star. It features modern American dishes like beef cheek pastrami with thousand island dressing from chef Christian Hunter, who is Black. He's one of only a handful of Black chefs to run a Michelin-starred kitchen worldwide. The venerable North Pond, one of Chicago's longer running fine dining spots, no longer has a star, nor does Goosefoot, the contemporary BYOB spot in Lincoln Park.

Two new dining rooms in Washington were recognized with a star each: Causa, which highlights the far-ranging cuisine of Peru, from the Andes to the Amazon; and Rania, where the Indian menu includes chicken kofta with truffle cream. It's the first Michelin-starred Indian restaurant in Washington. Chicago now also has a one-starred Michelin restaurant, Indienne.