Founded by brothers André and Édouard Michelin, the Michelin tire company — with its lovable fluffy mascot, the Michelin Man — started the Michelin Guide in the late 1800s as a means of informing long-distance drivers of worthwhile places to stop and have a bite to eat while traveling, and of getting more people on the road in general (at the time of its creation in France, there were only about 3,000 cars on the road). By 1926, due to the popularity of the guide, the star system was born.
Now highly coveted and an immense source of pride for those selected, Michelin stars are awarded to restaurants that excel in five specific areas: quality of ingredients, harmony of flavors, mastery of techniques, personality of the chef expressed through cuisine, and consistency across the menu and over time. Each restaurant that receives a star is evaluated completely anonymously numerous times over the course of a year before a decision is made, ensuring only the best of the best are selected.
Some restaurants even receive multiple Michelin stars, with any given restaurant able to secure a maximum of three stars. According to the Michelin Guide, one star is awarded to “restaurants using top quality ingredients, where dishes with distinct flavors are prepared to a consistently high standard.” To be awarded two stars, a restaurant must meet all the criteria as one-star establishments in addition to displaying the personality and talent of the chef in “expertly crafted dishes.” To earn the “highest award, given for the superlative cooking of chefs at the peak of their profession,” restaurants must elevate their dishes to an art form, with some “destined to become classics.”
We at VinePair were curious to know which cities around the world offered the best food and drink scenes. And rather than simply exploring the number of Michelin-starred restaurants present in each region, we were interested to know just how many stars each city can claim. Making things more interesting, we further explored the Michelin Guide by calculating which cities have the most Michelin stars per capita — and the results were surprising.
Despite the fact that Tokyo has the most Michelin stars in the world, with 262 total stars awarded across 200 restaurants, the city actually comes in 12th when it comes to stars per capita. Luxembourg on the other hand — with nine stars awarded across just eight restaurants — comes in first place for per capita Michelin stars, with a whopping 11.74 stars. Kyoto, Paris, Geneva, Zurich, and Macau round out the remainder of the top five while cities like Seoul, Beijing, and Shanghai — each boasting dozens of Michelin stars — rank last in stars per capita of the countries examined.
The data compiled below does not account for all starred restaurants in every city around the world. Cities were chosen based on population size in their respective countries and concentration of starred restaurants. Additionally, the Michelin Guide does not cover all major cities and countries.
Looking to book a fancy food tour? Check out our infographics below to see which cities around the world have received the most love from the Michelin Guide!
*Editor’s note – per capita data was calculated by dividing the number of total Michelin stars by each city’s population size before multiplying by 100,000.
*Image sourced from MoiraM – stock.adobe.com