For over a century, chefs have hoped their restaurants would be awarded Michelin stars. Only the very top tier of restaurants around the world get them, however, so earning a star is a huge accomplishment. Restaurants in only four cities in the U.S. are rated by Michelin, making them rarer still -- with prices to match. But there are ways to have a cheap Michelin-starred meal, especially if you visit one of these 34 starred restaurants in the cities where they're available -- New York, San Francisco, Chicago, or Washington D.C.
Uncle Boons is a casual Thai restaurant that offers small plates and grilled items on the cheap. Grab a few friends and order a bunch of things to try, like spicy rotisserie chicken and banana blossom salad, or grilled Issan pork and rice sausage, both for under $15.
The tasting menu dinner might be pricy at chef Rick Bayless' flagship Topolobampo, but lunch is another story. For $25, you can get a 3-course prix fixe lunch with options like ceviche and carne asada. Even a la carte entrees are pretty cheap, like the $18 chicken tinga tostadas.
Lunch can be had at the Thai restaurant Kin Khao for under $20. Favorites include chicken-fat rice with poached chicken and a side of chicken broth soup.
Sushi spots can be great for diners on a budget. At Kanoyama, order as much sushi as fits into your budget. Pieces of sushi start at $3. A side of edamame or steamed broccoli with garlic sauce will add only $5 to your bill.
The menu prices at La Vara, a Spanish restaurant with Jewish and Moorish influences, are just plain inexpensive. Choose from all types of tapas, like crispy eggplant with honey and cheese, for around $9. Even if you want to splurge a bit, a Valencia-style seafood paella will only set you back $21.
Though pricey, Campton Place is the only restaurant on this list that's been awarded two Michelin stars. Compared to the $155 dinner tasting menu, the bistro and bar menu is a steal. Try the Campton Cobb for $19 or classic French onion soup for $12.
For just $20, you can get Fiola's "Presto!" lunch every weekday. You get your choice of an entree, like grilled branzino, along with a non-alcoholic beverage or a small cocktail.
Brunch is a great way to try a Michelin-starred restaurant without the hefty price tag. At Meadowsweet, the menu changes all the time, but expect all the starters. from roasted oysters to Spanish octopus, to come in under $20.
With a sterling reputation since it opened in 1997, Blackbird is still going strong. Though the renowned tasting menu is out of the budget, the prix fixe lunch menu is not. For $25, you get your choice of three courses, with items like warm shrimp salad and hanger steak.
A sister restaurant to the famous Alinea restaurant, Roister offers a truly affordable brunch menu. Two sandwiches, a fried bologna and fried chicken, are $13, or grab something a little more brunchy like biscuits and gravy with pickled greens and eggs for $16.
Make a meal out of dim sum and cold dishes at Cafe China. Four steamed soup buns are only $8, or grab eight spicy pork dumplings in chili oil for a little more than a buck apiece. Some entrees, like kung pao chicken and ma po tofu are priced $15 or under for a more substantial meal.
The bar menu at The Progress is quite substantial. There's fried cauliflower for $18, and a number of other plates all under $20, like pig fries for $12.
You might not think that you can find an affordable Michelin-starred lunch in one of San Francisco's most expensive districts, but you can at Spruce. Mussels with Pernod and garlic toast are $24, or try a baby kale Caesar salad for only $14.
Rose's Luxury has a small menu that changes daily, but almost everything on it is under $16. has a small menu, but almost everything on it is under $16. Small plates have included pork sausage with habanero and lychee and bucatini al pomodoro with basil and red onion.
Dinner at Sushi Taro is served kaisekistyle -- there's no menu and the chef brings you what's fresh that day, meaning it can get super expensive. At lunch, however, you can get a reasonably priced bento box for $15. It includes tempura, sashimi, a choice of entree, miso soup, rice, and pickles.
Who doesn't love a good taco? It helps when they're pretty inexpensive, and that goes for Michelin-starred tacos as well. At Casa Enrique, grab a pair for around $10. Choose from fillings like lengua (cow tongue) and homemade chorizo.
A vegan- and vegetarian-friendly restaurant, Nix has a lunch menu that's affordable. Share an order of tandoor bread ($6) with three dips ($7 each) with the table, then grab roasted Brussels sprouts for $12.
LONGMAN AND EAGLE
The menu changes daily at Longman and Eagle, a nose-to-tail restaurant. But the menu of mostly small plates rarely goes above $25, and those are usually for large, complex dishes. Brunch is even cheaper, with most options $20 or less.
BAND OF BOHEMIA
Brunch at Band of Bohemia includes some familiar favorites, uniquely reinterpreted. The Tiny Benny (pancetta, English muffin, and hollandaise) is a steal at $8, while shrimp and blue corn grits with red eye gravy, Swiss chard, and lardons is $16.
Casa Mono, a Spanish restaurant, has a number of cheap seafood dishes. Salted cod fish (bacalao) croquettes go for $10, and fried baby squid is $18. For the meat eaters, try the $18 lamb loin with red onion.
Known for its chef's tasting menu with a hefty $145 price tag, Aldea has some less expensive items, too. The bacalhau a bras (farm egg and salt cod custard) is $17, sea urchin toast is $18, and cauliflower soup with black truffle is $21.
Spanish spot La Sirena has a pricey regular dinner menu, but they've also got a long list of more affordable tapas you can enjoy in the bar. You can order fried calamari for $14, or roasted winter vegetable salad for $10.
BLUE DUCK TAVERN
Michelin-starred restaurants in hotels have one big advantage for frugal customers: they serve breakfast. Blue Duck Tavern serves up a breakfast with unique items like gingerbread waffles for $19 and a BDT breakfast sandwich for $19.
TAIL UP GOAT
Carbohydrate lovers will enjoy the relatively cheap dinner menu full of pasta and bread at Tail Up Goat. Two different kinds of bread, stuffed with various fillings are $16 or less.
Head to Junoon for a Michelin-starred Indian lunch. For $25, you get your choice of two courses, choosing from apps, entrees and even desserts. And if you're thinking that must only be vegetarian dishes, you're wrong. Salmon, chicken, and shrimp options are all included.
Night owls can take advantage of a late night menu at The Breslin. Starting at 11 p.m. on weekdays or midnight on weekends, you can order from an abbreviated menu with cheap prices. The most expensive thing on the menu is a beef and bacon cheeseburger for $23.
DELAWARE AND HUDSON
The British-influenced gastropub Delaware and Hudson has a tavern menu full of inexpensive snacks, small plates and sandwiches. Try a house smoked trout platter for $16 with eggs, pickled beets, radishes, and buckwheat pancakes.
Mediterranean cuisine is the specialty at Naha. Try the business lunch for $25, which gives you a choice of starter, main (including steak frites, whole roasted chicken, or filet of pike), and dessert.
Yakitori is a Japanese dish of skewered chicken, but it's generally used to describe a style of eating where you order lots of little skewers of various items, all grilled over open flames. At Torishin, you can order four or five skewers of various meats and vegetables for under $25 total. Just be sure to hit their $20 per person minimum.
Dinner at Masseria is a tasting menu affair for at least a cool hundred bucks, but like many of these spots, you can take advantage of the bar menu. The prices on the Italian-inspired bar menu here are downright cheap, like arancini rice fritters for $2 a piece, or calamari with cherry peppers and for only $9.
Located in The NoMad Hotel, the NoMad Bar has a special menu for those who dine in the bar. The chicken sandwich for $19 sounds especially decadent with foie gras, crispy skin, and black truffle mayo.
Head to Dusek's in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood for lunch. Lots of items from the dinner menu are on the lunch menu for about the same price. Grab a Juicy Lucy burger for $15.
The lunch menu at Sepia contains some real deals. With a few exceptions, entrees top out at $20, including poached cod and beer-braised beef shoulder. If you're still hungry, head to the bar for happy hour on weekdays for $7 small bites.
The most expensive things on Commonwealth's dinner menu are $22. So while your budget may only allow you to get one course, at least you know it's going to be Michelin star-worthy. The menu changes often, but expect entrees like grilled swordfish with plums and turnips, and pork belly with blood pudding and green strawberries.