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16 SoCal Restaurants Make Michelin's 2021 California Bib Gourmand Guide

Two white bowls of the Vietnamese soup known as pho are seen from above, next to a small plate of garnishes.
Bowls of pho at Pho 79, a Garden Grove restaurant that received a 2019 James Beard America's Classics Award.
(Leo Duran/LAist)
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After a two-year pandemic hiatus, the Michelin Guide has returned to California.

The historically Eurocentric and Los Angeles-phobic Michelin Guide, which has made attempts in recent years to broaden its culinary perspective, just announced a bunch of new California restaurants in its Bib Gourmand category. Southern California did well.

Of the 45 new Bib Gourmand restaurants revealed today, 16 of them are located in Los Angeles or Orange counties.

These include spots that specialize in barbecue, Brazilian fare, Peruvian cuisine, fancy sandwiches, tacos, ramen, dumplings and, of course, Italian food. While we think Michelin's list still lacks enough representation of Mexican and Central American restaurants, it's a tasty spread.

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In addition, Santa Barbara has four and San Diego has five new restaurants in the Bib Gourmand category.

This announcement is a warm-up for the main event, which happens next week.

On Sept. 28, the Michelin Guide will announce its newly starred California restaurants — the first time it has done so since 2019. Michelin inspectors have been taking a break (as they should) during much of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While starred restaurants are fancier, more elaborate and definitely more expensive, Bib Gourmand restaurants "offer a full menu of a starter, main course and dessert, making it possible to order two courses and a glass of wine or dessert for around $40 or less," according Michelin.

All of the California restaurants — starred and Bib Gourmand — will be available on the Michelin Guide app next week, after the Star selections are revealed. You can check out all the past California Bib Gourmands here.

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Here are the new Los Angeles and Orange County Bib Gourmand spots for 2021, with Michelin's inspector notes from each restaurant (i.e. we didn't write this copy).

Bee Taqueria

This casual taqueria with serious focus and creative style arrives courtesy of the talented chef Alex Carrasco. Tacos, ceviche and tostadas reign supreme on the menu, which draws culinary inspiration from the chef's childhood in Mexico City.
5754 W. Adams Blvd., West Adams.

CHAAK Kitchen

The team behind CHAAK Kitchen swimmingly brings the vibrant smoke-and-spice-focused cuisine of the Yucatán Peninsula to life.
215 El Camino Real, Tustin.

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Chifa

Chifa is the term used by Peruvians to refer to “Chinese restaurant.” The succinct menu pulls from family recipes and childhood memories to pack in flavor at every twist and turn.
4374 Eagle Rock Blvd., Eagle Rock.

Colapasta

Nestled into a breezy locale just a few blocks from the Pacific, this modern trattoria packs a big culinary punch, thanks largely to the considerable talents of chef Stefano De Lorenzo.
1241 5th St., Santa Monica.

Fable & Spirit

Fable & Spirit is packed with an unmistakable hum of happy diners diving into delicious pub grub. You'll want to order the Guinness brown bread which is an absolute delight, especially paired with plump P.E.I. mussels bathed in a thyme butter.
3441 Via Lido, Newport Beach.

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Heritage Barbecue

Punctuality is of the essence as everyone is here, early and eager, for chef and owner Daniel Castillo's food. His creations draw inspiration from central Texas, so when that sweet scent of California white oak gets going, find yourself transported on a riotous journey, starting with slices of glistening brisket.
31721 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano.

Jiang Nan Spring

This spot's Shanghainese focus makes it a valuable addition to the San Gabriel Valley. Sweet vinegars and fresh seafood figure prominently, most apparent in plates like an irresistible platter of tilapia fried in a tempura-like batter flavored with seaweed.
910 E. Main St., Alhambra.

Kazan

The name is Japanese for "volcano" and conveniently, this soba-focused spot blows the lid off its competitors. The menu offers many a choice, including a vegetarian option, but the #7 (lamb in lava) is a clear winner.
111 N. La Cienega Blvd., Beverly Hills.

Khan Saab Desi Craft Kitchen

Originally from Pakistan, chef Imran Ali Mookhi displays a certain deftness with spices, flavors, and in his handling of red meat at this South Asian gem.
229 E. Commonwealth Ave., Unit A, Fullerton.

a hand holds a box with three sections of a slice egg salad sandwich
An egg salad and scallion sandwich from Konbi in Echo Park.
(T.Tseng/Flickr Creative Commons)

Konbi

Konbi is the brainchild of chefs Nick Montgomery and Akira Akuto, who present a unique menu of Japanese sandwiches, product-focused small plates and Proustian pastries.
1463 Sunset Blvd., Echo Park.

La Azteca

This modest counter-service operation has been serving hefty burritos from East L.A. for many years now. Flour tortillas are made in-house every day in full view of the dining room and boast a kind of richness and chew that others don’t.
4538 East Cesar E. Chavez Ave., East L.A.

Luscious Dumplings

It’s hard to order poorly at this delightful retreat. The menu is concise, with half of the items dedicated to the eponymous specialty.
919 W. Duarte Rd, Monrovia.

Oliver's Osteria Mare e Monti

Set just minutes from the Pacific Coast Highway, this Italian gem makes a delightful sight. Chef Erik De Marchi's menu has something for everyone. He takes a range of familiar dishes and enhances them with an authentic flair.
853 Laguna Canyon Rd., Laguna Beach.

PHO 79
The beef pho at Pho 79, a Garden Grove restaurant that received a 2019 James Beard America's Classics Award.
(Leo Duran/LAist)

Pho 79

If you are no stranger to the slurp, then Pho 79 is likely already on your circuit. After all, this place is an institution. Opened in the early '80s, it's widely considered to ladle some of the best and most praiseworthy pho in Southern California.*
9941 Hazard Ave., Garden Grove.
*In 2019, Pho 79 won an America's Classics Award from the James Beard Foundation.

Tumbi

Just a block from the bustle of the Santa Monica Promenade, Tumbi feels worlds away, offering inventive Indian cooking in an industrial-chic setting.
115 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica.

WoodSpoon

It's clear that hospitality runs through the veins of chef and owner, Natalia Pereira, who originally hails from Brazil. The cozy dining room is lined with framed photographs and wine bottles. The chef's careful and skilled hand is also evident in her food, which tastes of pure passion.
107 W 9th St., DTLA.

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