Finding the best Michelin Star Restaurants in the Mediterranean
You don’t have to be a “foodie” or a top chef to appreciate fabulous cuisines, dishes, and restaurant experiences. Everyone loves to dine out and the majority of people love to experience “fine dining.” When you travel in the Mediterranean, out of necessity as well as desire, you are eating meals out. How do you find the top restaurants, great food, and amazing chefs from the region you will be traveling in?
If you wish the best of the best in culinary experiences, rely on the Michelin Guide which highlights their selection of the crème de la crème of restaurants worldwide. Their star rating system further distinguishes the best culinary places to visit.
A little history…
Back in 1900 the well-known tire company, Michelin Tires, based in Clermont-Ferrand France, launched its first travel guide hoping to encourage people to tour France by car. From a family business in tires to the word on haute cuisine, the innovative Michelin Brothers became points of reference in both industries, transportation and cuisine. Within the guide, they began awarding restaurants with a single star representing a fine-dining establishment or rather a locale worth traveling to visit. Here began the Michelin Star rating awards which now awards 0 to 3 stars for the quality of the establishments throughout the world based on their anonymous reviews. Judging is based on the chef’s mastery of technique, his personality, the value, the freshness and quality of the ingredients and most importantly the food consistency being at its best. They award the level of luxury of a restaurant by a separate value, offering from 1-5 crossed knife and forks awards.
On your travels through the Mediterranean why not take a little of their advice and visit one or more fine dining restaurants awarded Michelin stars? Here are some of the very well-known Michelin star restaurants in the Med. Some flavors you simply do not forget. Embark on a culinary journey of a lifetime!
Heading to the French Riviera here are a few that stand out as superb.
The most prestigious restaurant in Monaco is inspired by the Riviera and la dolce vita. Opened in 1987 and inside the Hotel de Paris Monte-Carlo, you will find the “flagship restaurant” of famed French chef Alain Ducasse. Le Louis VX is the first restaurant located in a hotel to earn the rank of three-stars by Michelin and do it within only 33 months! It also is considered the third-best three-star rated restaurant in the world. Its breathtaking, elegant dining room is timeless. Making the experience even better is having the famous sommelier help recommend the perfect pairing of wine from its wine cellar which houses over 400,000 wines picked from around the world to represent the best around. The menu highlights and is inspired by the local Riviera regional products all presented with a modern signature. This place never ceases to amaze all that have the opportunity to dine here.
This restaurant located within the palace La Reserve de Beaulieu, is iconic on the French Riviera, Cote d’Azur, for keeping its reputation since 1880 and is awarded with one star. The execution, presentation and taste of its dishes are immersed with intricate cooking techniques and are extremely complicated. Its location looking out onto the Mediterranean, its noble décor, exquisite cuisine, royal dining hall and marvelous outdoor terrace, makes this a masterpiece restaurant with a magnificent setting that should not be missed.
The name Le Palme D’or, inspired by the famous award given at the Cannes Festival, was created in 1985 and in a short 6 years later boasts two-stars from Michelin. One of the best restaurants in Cannes it has been awarded two-stars by Michelin. It has an innovative menu, both French and Mediterranean, which includes wonderful vegetarian and vegan dishes which are a popular lifestyle choice now. Detailed research goes into each dish, but it is presented in its purest form yet balancing flavors, ingredients, and flavors. Boasting an Art Deco setting of the Hotel Martinez, which is located in the Croisette, it provides a unique and privileged view of the Bay of Cannes and the Mediterranean. It is also very committed to sustainable gastronomy. It is a culinary experience waiting to be had that will satisfy even the most demanding and surely please the more ecological and health-conscious eater.
Moving south to the Italian Riviera.
Located on the picturesque Amalfi coast with views looking out over the sea and of the tiled dome of Positano’s main church, La Sponda, located inside Le Sirenuse Hotel and sporting one star, may be one of the prettiest of all restaurants on the coast. The menu is seasonally based. The cuisine is a light Mediterranean cuisine based on fresh local ingredients and inspired by traditions of Naples but enhanced with a contemporary touch. One outstanding dish highlights this fact; the Italian staple Linguine alle Vongole, which is elevated by the chef with the addition of lemon-zucchini pesto. Pair your meal with a sample of their home-made bread selection and a fine wine from their cava. The 400 candles lit throughout the venue and live music floating in the air makes evening dining magical both inside and al fresco on the terrace overlooking Positano and the sea. A romantic, elegant and intimate surrounding.
Ristorante La Carvella* is located in the heart of Amalfi, and has hosted over the years famous artists, directors and celebrities. The Restaurant is not only known for its expertise in its cuisine, which has earned a Michelin Star, but also as being a museum. The senses of taste, smell and visual meld into one. The dining room is adorned with painted frescoes by Luca Mancini, an impressive collection of ceramics of the most famous Masters of Vertri since 1800 and handblown glassware. The cuisine at La Caravella rediscovers the old recipes of Amalfi and reinvents them in a fantastic new version.
*See one of their famous recipes at the bottom of this post
This Michelin two-star restaurant is located in a nineteenth-century Neapolitan palace. It is family-run and when arriving you are met by members of the family making you feel like honored guests. Under the palace and restaurant, one can find the wine-cellar which is reachable by Pre-Roman tunnels that were used as an old escape route from invaders and enemies. You can tour the library, kitchen and wine cellar through the caves to the secret passage. The cuisine is sometimes called “quirky” if not unusual for sure. Such items like eel ice cream might make you think twice. They have their own vegetable farm which provides organic and fresh veggies for all kinds of divine preparations. At the end of the meal, you are offered an assortment of amuse-bouche and tiny dessert samplers as well as some dried pasta to take home, a lovely touch to end a superior dining experience. The ambiance and warmth along-side amazingly well-prepared food make it all around fabulous experience.
Let us look a bit further south to Greece.
Earning two-stars, Spondi meets all the criteria of excellence in cuisine and presentation. Just a stone’s throw from the ancient sites of Athens and tucked away in an unassuming yet elegant courtyard, Spondi was created in 1996. Known for its elegance, refinement and delightful creations it uses only the freshest and local ingredients and its menu is seasonally based. The plates cross the lines of tradition, modernity and classicism and develop dishes of exquisite taste and visual appeal. The food has always leaned on the creative French style of cuisine. Whether one chooses from some of its designer meals such as Milk fed lamb with eggplant, black olives, oregano juice, Middle Neck with herb and mustard or the crab with turnip, acacia honey, tarragon and passion fruit, you will not be disappointed and leave with a sense of wonder. They have always been known for their foie gras either the preserved version with spices, chocolate and orange or the pan fried with artichoke, chervil root, chestnut and coffee consommé. They create works of art that are impeccable and showcase the array of chef techniques in developing flavor and texture to the creations. They always offer an excellent gastronomic experience.
Just outside of Athens on the seaside in the most beautiful ‘small harbor’, ‘Mikrolimano’, you will find Varoulko Seaside. Based on Greek and Mediterranean cuisine and utilizing the freshest seafood, squid, octopus, organic vegetables, and Cretan olive oil the restaurant puts an elegant spin on all dishes. This is the second Varoulko restaurant in Athens, by chef Lefteris Lazarou, located this time as its name indicates, on the enchanting Athenian seaside. As the great Greek poet Odysseus Elytis famously said, if you deconstruct Greece, you will see at the end that what is left is an olive tree, a vineyard and a fishing boat. So agrees the poetic chef Lazarou who draws his inspiration from the sea. Tasty Mediterranean Sea molluscs are heavily featured. You will find crayfish tartar and grouper with Jerusalem artichokes and mustard and cocoa pepper. Everything is artistically presented and outstandingly fresh and tasteful. Don’t forget dessert where you will find dishes such as cherry ganache with pistachio mousse, hibiscus, and kaimaki sorbet. They serve creative menus for both lunch, a simpler and light meze-style menu and dinner, and an elegant and creative one to enjoy while watching the sunset over the fishing and sail boats. The prices here are affordable and often visitors will go for even small bites or just a dessert, for a tasty and beautiful break from work.
Just as the name suggests, the food is funky and creative all being presented in a most artful manner. They earned their first star in 2012 and second in 2014. The Funky Gourmet is absurdly a modernistic restaurant. They have relocated in 2021 from a neo-classical building in a forgotten part of town to the iconic Hilton hotel in the heart of Athens. There is not a set menu but rather a 14 course “tasting menu” which makes the dinner table a theater. They are always willing to substitute selection to accommodate dietary concerns. Numerous dishes follow one after the other all evoking a visually spectacular and culinary explosion of taste. As you embark on this culinary journey of tasting you can’t help but be dazzled by the artistic designs set in front of you. One, in particular, is the ‘Garden of Roses’ made of a gorgeous carved beetroot rose that has been planted in edible soil. Then a picnic basket is assembled on the table with an attached Picnic postcard of instructions. Various small plates adorn the checker tablecloth to offer a sense of whimsy. The ‘Silence of the Lamb’ is their signature dish comprising of lamb brains served in a rich lemon-flavored sauce. The sophisticated dining experience here is rich in taste and offer a multi-sensory experience of food and art.
Hytra, one star awarded restaurant of Athens, moves from the 6th floor of the Onassis Center to its roof terrace, having outstanding panoramic views of the Acropolis, Lycabettus Hill and the city’s lit-up skyline. This is a great choice for vegetarians where the Scandinavian-influenced menu consists of fermented vegetables, herbs and fruits. They offer a vegetarian eight-course tasting menu as well as a regular 14-course tasting menu. The kitchen’s philosophy—”innovative yet earthy, whimsical yet unpretentious.” Sounds a lot like Greek culture! They strive to use sustainable and foraged ingredients such as free-range rooster and milk-fed lamb. Using modern inspiration, the Greek traditional cuisine is highlighted and elevated in a contemporary way. The chef’s deconstructed ‘spanakorizo’ (spinach, rice, lemon and dill dish) has caused great review. They have an excellently curated wine cellar of top-notch local Greek wines to highlight the city in which it is based and inspired. It is the best in food and ambiance with spectacular views of the picturesque city.
Trust a Michelin Star review. They are visited at least 3 or 4 and up to 10 times, tasting items from across the menu and judged with extremely high standards. Pick one or more of the above restaurants and you will understand how these places are distinguished from other establishments. Enjoy fabulous meals with the freshest ingredients, cleverly prepared items, flawless service and great ambiance. A certain way to attain a lasting memory of any of these exquisite destinations!