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Just about everyone knows that Michelin starred restaurants are a big deal, but what does that really mean? Understanding how Michelin Stars actually work will help foodies decide whether or not a restaurant is really worth a visit.

Where Michelin Stars Come From

Michelin Stars actually get their name from the Michelin tire company. Though tires and food might not seem closely related, the company has actually been reviewing restaurants for almost 100 years. Michelin started reviewing restaurants to create a guide for savvy road trippers. They were one of the first official food reviewers, so over the decades, they have taken on a legendary status.

How Michelin Awards Stars

Michelin Stars are based on the opinion of anonymous reviewers. No one knows who these people are, but they are experts who secretly visit the restaurant to try out its specialties. Michelin Stars are focused entirely on food. Reviewers do not pay attention to things like the decor in a restaurant or the ambiance. Instead, the reviewers simply sit down, eat food, and rate how the food tastes. To get a single star, a restaurant must consistently provide excellent food in its desired field of cuisine. Restaurants only get three stars when they use the finest ingredients and provide unique and delicious signature dishes that cannot be easily found in any other restaurant.

The Meaning of Each Michelin Star

According to Michelin, each star has a meaning linked to the idea of a road trip. A one-star restaurant is meant to be a restaurant that is a good place to stop on your trip. A two-star restaurant is a restaurant that is worth making a detour to visit, while a three-star restaurant is a restaurant so good it is worth planning a trip just to go to the restaurant. However, in the real world, people tend to view Michelin stars a little differently. They are very rare, with only about 60-70 restaurants in New York even getting one each year. Therefore, a single star is seen as an incredibly high badge of honor. Only 137 restaurants throughout the world have three stars, making them a prestigious award for only a select few.