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San Diego’s First Michelin Star Restaurant Is…

The Del Mar restaurant earned it years ago, and kept earning it until it arrived
Addison's Chef William Bradley | Photo: Jim Sullivan

By Troy Johnson

And there it is. San Diego has its first Michelin-star restaurant. It’s overdue and it’s a no-brainer. Addison receives one-star Michelin.

Executive chef William Bradley, chef de cuisine Stefani De Palma, wine director Rafael Sanchez, and its 600,000 sommeliers on staff have earned it.

Located in the $400 million Fairmont Grand Del Mar, Addison is a Great Gatsbyan ode to the art of fine dining. It’s edible Louvre. The resort and restaurant seem to curtsy to each guest. Diners are provided with a roster of attendants, each of whose suits are so crisp and clean and cuffed that you have that rare thought, “Should I have ironed this tie?” The lighting is perfect, softening any blows that age or vices may have taken on faces. The decor has a kingly opulence and corresponding gaudiness. Tables are given acres between each other, better to keep state secrets that may be spilled over veloutés.

Chef Bradley is classically trained French, and for 13 years has kept his head down and his process obsessive. He refines and redefines foods for his multi-course tastings. So obsessive that he and De Palma try to ensure each dish is served—in synchronization by multiple servers—at 98.7 degrees. The exact temperature of your mouth. The harmony temperature of food.

If it weren’t a world-class restaurant, it would be a psychological disorder.

Purses are treated as esteemed guests, given their own exquisite furniture. The glassware is so clean it’s almost not there. The wine vault is full of rarefied juice—the sorts of bottles that collectors hold like newborns, frail in their perfection. The sort of wines that have reached K-pop-level stardom, and the winemakers only grant bottles to sommeliers who look them in the eye and show that they understand. Cult stuff, delicious stuff, weird and enlightening stuff. It would not surprise me in the least to meat a groundskeeper who was a certified sommelier. It is a sommelier farm.

It’s not for everyone. It can feel more formal than a baptism. Your Tesla will be parked with the golf carts and other downmarket vehicles.

But I’ve eaten at Michelin star restaurants in New York, Chicago, and Portland. And while all very respectable, they were no Addison. Chef Bradley and team earned this award years ago, and kept earning it.

Here’s the full list of California winners:

Three-Star Michelin

Atelier Crenn, San Francisco

Benu, San Francisco

The French Laundry, Napa

Manresa, South Bay

Quince, San Francisco

The Restaurant at Meadowood, Napa

SingleThread, Napa

Two-Star Michelin

Acquerello, San Francisco

Baumé, South Bay

Californios, San Francisco

Campton Place, San Francisco

Coi, San Francisco

Commis, East Bay

Lazy Bear, San Francisco

n/naka, Los Angeles

Providence, Los Angeles

Saison, San Francisco

Somni, Los Angeles

Sushi Ginza Onodera, Los Angeles

Urasawa, Los Angeles

Vespertine, Los Angeles

One-Star Michelin

Addison, San Diego

Al’s Place, San Francisco

Angler, San Francisco

Auberge du Soleil, Napa

Aubergine, Monterey

Bar Crenn, San Francisco

Birdsong, San Francisco

Bistro Na’s, Los Angeles

Bouchon, Napa

Chez TJ, South Bay

Commonwealth, San Francisco

CUT, Los Angeles

Dialogue, Los Angeles

Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant, Sonoma

Gary Danko, San Francisco

Hana Re, Orange County

Harbor House, Wine Country

Hashiri, San Francisco

Hayato, Los Angeles

In Situ, San Francisco

Ju-ni, San Francisco

Kali, Los Angeles

Kato, Los Angeles

Keiko a Nob Hill, San Francisco

Kenzo, Napa

Kinjo, San Francisco

Kin Khao, San Francisco

The Kitchen, Sacramento

La Toque, Napa

La Comptoir, Los Angeles

Lord Stanley, San Francisco

Luce, San Francisco

Madcap, Marin

Madera, Peninsula

Madrona Manor, Wine Country

Maude, Los Angeles

Maum, South Bay

Michael Mina, San Francisco

Mister Jiu’s, San Francisco

Mori Sushi, Los Angeles

Mourad, San Francisco

Nico, San Francisco

Nozawa Bar, Los Angeles

Octavia, San Francisco

Omakase, San Francisco

Orsa & Winston, Los Angeles

Osteria Mozza, Los Angeles

Plumed Horse, South Bay

The Progress, San Francisco

Protege, South Bay

Q Sushi, Los Angeles

Rasa, Peninsula

Rich Table, San Francisco

Rustic Canyon, Los Angeles

Shibumi, Los Angeles

Shin Sushi, Los Angeles

Shunji, Los Angeles

Sons & Daughters, San Francisco

Sorrel, San Francisco

SPQR, San Francisco

Spruce, San Francisco

State Bird Provisions, San Francisco

Sushi Yoshizumi, Peninsula

Taco Maria, Orange County

Trois Mec, Los Angeles

The Village Pub, Peninsula

Wako, San Francisco

Wakuriva, Peninsula

San Diego’s First Michelin Star Restaurant Is…

Addison’s Chef William Bradley | Photo: Jim Sullivan

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