It’s hard to believe that the Michelin Guide—something of a bucket list for lovers of fine dining—began in 1900 as a simple tour book for motorists. And since 1926, the Michelin Guide has given star ratings to restaurants and hotels, bestowing one, two or three stars upon establishments deemed by its reviewers as “very good,” “excellent” or “exceptional.”

It wasn’t until 2005 that the iconic French handbook made the jump across the pond, first publishing a guide to New York City restaurants and then adding the Chicago and San Francisco metropolitan areas to its list of annually published guides. This year’s Michelin Guide: San Francisco Bay Area & Wine Country covers 540 restaurants and hotels.

Here’s a look at the South Bay and Peninsula establishments that made the cut in the one and two-star categories. (Perhaps next year we’ll see some of these rise up and join The French Laundry and The Restaurant at Meadowood in the crème de la crème three-star club?)

Two Stars

Tucked away near the California Avenue Caltrain Station in Palo Alto, Baumé is a modest operation that offers an intimate dining experience and emphasizes fresh, local ingredients. With just 25 seats and a small back-of-house team headed by chef Bruno Chemel, Baumé serves an ever-changing tasting menu using seasonal ingredients. Despite dabbling in molecular gastronomy in the past, Chemel has recently expressed his desire to return to the more traditional methods he used as a chef working in France.

Taking the farm-to-table concept to the next level, chef David Kinch of Los Gatos’ Manresa has maintained a partnership with Love Apple Farms in the Santa Cruz Mountains since 2006. Supplying organic, biodynamic vegetables and other produce to the restaurant, Love Apple Farms also receives all the compost from the kitchen, thus forming a neat sustainable food chain. Manresa recently published Kinch’s much-anticipated first cookbook, Manresa: An Edible Reflection, which makes plain this region’s importance in shaping the restaurant’s cuisine.

One Star

Just into its third year, husband-and-wife-run All Spice in San Mateo is a departure from the French-fusion approach of most of its fine dining peers. Chef Sachin Chopra draws upon various ethnic cuisines—notably Indian, Japanese and Mediterranean—to create dishes such as chicken confit kebabs, veal cheeks vindaloo or spinach-parmesan custard served with grilled paneer, and a bit of humor, too: it’s named “Popeye’s Dream.”

Located in a historic late-19th century home in Mountain View, Chez TJ recently celebrated its 30th anniversary. Presiding over the kitchen is chef Jarad Gallagher (previously chef de cuisine at Plumed Horse), whose training and work abroad at Le Cordon Bleu supports Chez TJ’s contemporary French philosophy. The restaurant has served as a launching pad for many a celebrated Bay Area chef, including the aforementioned Chemel, Joshua Skenes (now at Saison in San Francisco) and Christopher Kostow of The Restaurant at Meadowood.

A Bay Area native, executive chef Peter Rudolph of Madera at the Rosewood Sand Hill in Menlo Park preserves the culinary traditions of the region with locally harvested produce and sustainably harvested seafood and meats, and a kitchen centered on a wood-fire grill. Also popular is the bar and lounge, a hotspot for the venture capitalist and Silicon Valley set.

At Saratoga’s Plumed Horse chef Peter Armellino serves California-inspired cuisine that draws on local produce and seafood, with some choice imported ingredients. Since a major remodel in 2008, the sleek Old-World-meets-contemporary-aesthetic matches the refined character of the food.

At Wakuriya in San Mateo, contemporary Japanese cuisine by chef Katsuhiro Yamasaki creates a prix-fixe menu of nine dishes that incorporate seafood, poultry, meats and seasonal vegetables. Those fortunate enough to snag a seat at the counter can watch the master at work.