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Why Are There No Michelin Star Restaurants in Michigan?

Detroit Michigan USA downtown skyline from above at dusk.

Why Are There No Michelin Star Restaurants in Michigan?

No matter what state a restaurant calls home, there are certain awards that can really put a restaurant on the map. The first one that may come to mind is the Michelin Guide. There are no Michelin Star restaurants in Michigan; this is because Michelin Guide doesn’t cover this region of the U.S. Keep in mind that there are actually numerous culinary awards that hold just as much meaning and power. The James Beard Foundation nominates chefs, restauranteurs, and menus all over the country. Food and Wine Global Tastemakers awards honors to restaurants with diverse wine offerings and unique mixology creations. For chefs looking to break into the big leagues of the culinary awards scene, the city doesn’t narrow down the opportunities for accolades. 

In Michigan, there are a number of award-winning restaurants. Many of these would no doubt be recognized, or at least reviewed by, Michelin if the organization covered the state of Michigan. Since James Beard Awards will be mentioned a number of times on this list, let’s give you some background on how that prestige is awarded. A committee of experts and past award-winners nominates restaurants in a number of categories. Semifinalists are announced and the finalists win the actual award, though making it into the semifinals is also a huge culinary career boost. These awards honor the skill, creativity, values, and ethics of a restaurant, its owners, and its chefs. In 2023, the state of Michigan got five nominations from James Beard. (via Eater). Let’s take a look at the restaurants comparable to Michelin Star restaurants in Michigan.  

Selden Standard

3921 2nd Avenue, Detroit, MI 48201

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Delicious spaghetti alla carbonara, a traditional roman recipe of pasta topped with egg, pecorino and black pepper sauce, italian food
The Selden Standard's cacio e pepe is house-made and downright delicious. Check their current menu for availability.

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The Selden Standard was nominated in the 2023 James Beard Awards under the “Best Chef” category. Lead Chef Andy Hollyday sources his menu creations from local farms, with seasonal produce. Selden uses a wood-fired oven and presents its delicious food in sharing-style plates. It earned Restaurant of the Year in 2015 and 2016 from two Detroit publications. Since the menu is crafted around seasonal ingredient availability, it's apt to change. But for now, they have a sample dinner menu. Let's take a look at some of the Selden Standard culinary offerings.

For vegetable lovers, there are plenty of choices at Selden Standard. Choose from vegetable carpaccio, roasted mushrooms, smoked potatoes, and a kale and date salad, among other choices. Meat and fish lovers can enjoy oysters, beef tartare, grilled swordfish, and beef Bolognese at this restaurant. For dessert, enjoy one of these dishes: chocolate cake, pumpkin pie, Paloma pavlova, or ice cream.

Located only a few blocks from Detroit's Fisher Music Center, the Selden Standard is well worth a visit while you're exploring downtown.

Saffron De Twah

7636 Gratiot Ave. Detroit, MI 48213

Healthy spicy, creamy vegetarian appetizer or snack with roasted red pepper dip with harissa, pita and olives close-up on wooden background.Traditional homemade Tunisia and Arabic cuisine adjika
Harissa pepper sauce is used in many of the recipes at Saffron De Twah.

©Daria Arnautova/Shutterstock.com

Saffron De Twah also made the semifinalists for the 2023 James Beard Awards. Chef Omar Anani was nominated for “Best Chef”. Anani is a Palestinian-Egyptian-American chef and restaurateur and has been nominated twice for the “Best Chef” category. He owns multiple food trucks and brick and mortar restaurants, but Saffron De Twah has a unique community outreach program that'll pull your heartstrings, and encourage your patronage. During the 2020 pandemic, Chef Anini started a program to provide meals for those in need. Since its beginnings, the Saffron Community Kitchen Initiative has served 100,000+ meals to people in need.

The dine-in menu at Saffron De Twah is available Friday through Monday, and there's a nice heated patio that's simply lovely during the warmer months. You'll enjoy drinks out of an airstream bar. Saffron De Twah's newest menu includes starters like harissa slaw and couscous with vegetables. Try out their beloved Moroccan chicken sandwich with berbere spice, caramelized honey butter, and a harissa aioli with lemon. They also have a fried catfish sandwich served on a challah bun with harissa aioli and a chermoula sauce. These options are available for carry-out, and any added donations go directly to the Saffron Community Outreach Initiative. If they gave out Michelin stars for service, this would absolutely be one of the Michelin Star restaurants in Michigan.


8044 Kercheval, Suite 1B, Detroit, Michigan 48214

Homemade Roasted Beef Bone Marrow with Thyme and Lemon
Its namesake dish is well worth a try on your visit to Marrow in Detroit.

©Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock.com

Yet another James Beard 2023 nominee, Marrow‘s Chef Sarah Welch made it to the “Best Chefs” category. Marrow's values are centered around building a “sustainable food system”. This model depends on ingredients sourced directly from the local Great Lakes regions. They work to provide education in sustainable restaurant practices. A huge part of the Marrow mission is innovation, to find the best ways to engage a community while practicing ethical methods for being a farm-to-table restaurant. They have an ethical butcher shop as well as a restaurant.

Let's get into the meat of what Marrow's Chef has to offer. Their dine-in menu can be picked a la carte. You can also try everything in the form of a five-course chef's tasting menu ($90/per person). The menus change depending on the seasonal availability of certain ingredients. But, a sample menu might include some of the following delicacies. As per their namesake, one of the starters is a canoe-cut bone full of rich marrow poofs. This is served with savory onion jam. Other starter options include pickled shrimp and smoked fish croquette. Try their featured cheese for a simple starter.

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  • Includes more than 8,000 substitutions for ingredients, cookware, and techniques.
  • Save time and money on by avoiding trips to grab that "missing" ingredient you don't really need.
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The vegetable section includes choices like mushroom dumplings and salads. Meats and fishes include clam chowder and seared scallops. There's also duck, lamb, and local Michigan beef. All of these are dressed up nicely in sweet and savory sauce combinations. Whatever you pick, you really can't go wrong at any of these comparable to Michelin Star restaurants in Michigan.

Sozai Restaurant

449 West 14 Mile Road, Clawson, MI 48017

Top view of Tuna tataki on black plate,  Isolated on white background. Japanese food.
Try one of the multi-course meal options available at Sozai in Clawson, Michigan.


Hajime Sato, the Chef of Sozai Restaurant, was nominated in the “Outstanding Chef” category for the 2023 James Beard Awards. Much like Marrow, Sozai supports ethical farming and fishing methods in the sourcing of its ingredients. The menu and mission of the restaurant are to combine homestyle Japanese cooking with creative takes on traditional sushi dishes. For a truly unique dining experience, check out their Omakase dining experience.

In the Omakase event, you'll be seated at the sushi bar to enjoy a multi-hour chef's course meal. Saké pairings are optional in the menu. Mori costs $80/per person and features seven courses of tofu and vegetable dishes. Minato costs $90/per person and features 7 courses. The Nami tier costs $130 and is seafood-oriented. Chiso is $160 for eleven courses of traditional and nuanced creations from Sozai. The Kappo event is four hours long and you'll be served both traditional and innovative Japanese fare. Note that reservations for Kappo are very hard to get and require approval from Hajime Sato.

Menu-wise, Sozai serves an assortment of fresh sushi, nigiri, and sashimi. Many of these rolls used locally-sourced fish from the state of Michigan. Side plates include kaiso seaweed salad, sunomono cucumbers with vinegar, tsukemono pickled vegetables, and edamame soybeans with shiitake salt. The small plates offered at Sozai feature a homemade poké bowl, a kaisen salad, nanban, and flash-fried salmon, among others. For dessert, Sozai offers mochi ice cream, crème brulee, kinako mochi, and ginger sorbet.

The Apparatus Room

250 West Larned Street, Detroit, Michigan 48226

Oysters close-up. A dozen of raw oysters on a platter
The Apparatus Room offers oysters in the half shell for a starter dish.


The Apparatus Room deserves special mention because its Chef Thomas Lents has guided a number of restaurants to their Michelin Star status. He was the first American Chef de Cuisine at Joël Robuchon in Las Vegas, which holds three stars, as well as the executive chef of Sixteen, where Lents helped the restaurant earn two Michelin Stars (via Detroit Free Press). Chef Lents opened The Apparatus Room in the Foundational Hotel of downtown Detroit in May 2017. The menu is regional and sources locally to produce shareable plates, from appetizers to entrees. They offer in-room dining for hotel guests and a classic brunch menu. Dine-in dinner can be ordered a la carte and in the form of the chef's tasting menu.

For appetizers, some of the options you can choose from include sourdough bread, salmon tartare, and oysters. The restaurant offers four different salads that you can choose from. Main dishes include pan-seared celery root, sea scallops, a half chicken, and braised pork collar. Three side dishes are available for pairing with your meal: cauliflower, roasted potatoes, and cucumber. You really can't go wrong.

Warda Patisserie

70 W Alexandrine St, Detroit, MI 48201

Baked vegetable quiche with romanesco broccoli, eggs and cheese close-up in a plate on the table. Horizontal top view from above
Give Warda Patisserie's quiche a try the next time you visit Detroit.

©AS Foodstudio/Shutterstock.com

For a restaurant-adjacent option that very much deserves a mention on this list, consider Warda Patisserie. In 2022, the Warda Patisserie of Detroit received the “Outstanding Pastry Chef” James Beard Award. Nestled in the heart of midtown Detroit, Warda uses local ingredients to mimic global flavors from areas of Algeria, France, and Asia. They sell individual pastries, both sweet and savory offerings, as well as coffee drinks, local teas, and seasonal drink offerings. Some of their beloved treats include their lemon tart, mango cheesecake, and quiche. Special mention goes out to their tortas, pear and almond tart, and tea cakes. Check out their Instagram for more mouthwatering goodies.

The Food Substitutions Bible
  • The must-have convenient reference guide for every home cook!
  • Includes more than 8,000 substitutions for ingredients, cookware, and techniques.
  • Save time and money on by avoiding trips to grab that "missing" ingredient you don't really need.
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
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