When it’s released this week, Michelin’s little red book of DC restaurant recommendations will have only 96 pages. That makes it basically a pamphlet compared to forthcoming guides for Chicago (280 pages), San Francisco (432 pages), and New York (674 pages).
Just to recap that math: the DC guide will be about the third the size of the other shortest US guide.
DC is, of course, a much smaller city geographically. (In future years, the guide may possibly expand to include the Washington suburbs; as of now, it does not.) But if the mere size of the guide is any indication, Washingtonians shouldn’t expect a wealth of starred restaurants to be announced on Oct. 13.
Already, DC trails other American cities on Michelin’s Bib Gourmand list of more affordable eateries. Nineteen DC restaurants earned the distinction this year compared to 133 in New York, 74 in San Francisco, and 58 in Chicago last year.
After talking with numerous chefs, restaurateurs, and people who travel the world eating at Michelin-starred restaurants in recent months, I’ve found most of them don’t expect more than ten to 12 DC restaurants to earn stars. The most optimistic estimates I’ve heard cap it at 15.
Anonymous Michelin inspectors award between one and three stars, and it’s very possible that no local establishment will receive the highest rating. Before the short-lived Los Angeles guide was killed off, no restaurant there ever earned three stars.
For the sake of comparison, here’s a breakdown of the number of restaurants awarded stars in other American cities last year. Feel free to leave your DC predictions in the comments.
3 stars: 6
2 stars: 10
1 star: 60
3 stars: 5
2 stars: 7
1 star: 38
3 stars: 2
2 stars: 3
1 star: 17