Budgeting for Michelin Star Restaurants in DC

michelin dc guide

As a foodie, who’s also striving for financial independence, I live in a state of perpetual ambivalence. How exactly can one afford to eat out at Michelin Star restaurants while trying to save up for retirement? Well the journey to financial independence is a balance between money and enjoyment. Hence, to enjoy the things you wish to enjoy, it’s important to create a plan. Or in this case a budget. In order to try out all the Michelin Star restaurants, I’ve written up a Michelin DC Guide in order to budget out how much you’d need to plan for each restaurant. As a result, this will is part of 2019 goals for next year. 

Again, I want to reiterate. 

I’m working towards Financial Independence.

Yet, I’m a foodie who wants to try food everywhere. Including expensive ass Michelin Star restaurants.

See the problem here?

Fortunately, I meal prep a lot. And try to restrict my eating out to only on weekends, if even that. As a result, I have the flexibility to splurge once every few months on a Michelin Star Restaurants. Also, this fulfills my dreams and coincide with my enjoyment towards Financial independence. 

Thus, given how expensive some of these restaurants are, I find it completely justified since i already cook at home and do meal prep during the rest of the month. 

What’s a Michelin Star Restaurant?

Just a few years ago, DC received their very first set of Michelin Star restaurants. Since then, my sisters and I have made it a hobby/mission to dine at all the restaurants in the Michelin DC Guide.

Michelin Stars are awarded to restaurants that meet certain requirements established by the Michelin company. Yes this is the same as the tire company. Who knew they were into food too?

Basically these restaurants represent the best of the best. Not just in taste but also in service, location, decoration, and environment. Recently, DC has been hit with hip culture and the amount of trendy restaurants and food trucks have been on the rise the last 5-6 years. Restaurants can be awarded between one to three stars. Three being the highest possible prestige. 

Now some of you might say “The food isn’t worth the cost. I’ve had better so-and-so elsewhere.” 

You’re missing the point. 

This isn’t just about food, but rather the entire experience. These restaurants don’t earn their stars on taste alone. It’s the service, the location, the decor, the environment, the smell, the comfort of your chair. Every little detail is considered. 

Have you ever had a fragrance bomb? The kind where you pop open an omelette filled with curry to release an explosively delicious fragrance into the room.

Or swallowed an ice pebble, drank a mixed drink, and then breathed fiery dragon-like smoke out of your nostrils? 

These are the types of situations some Michelin Star Restaurants allow you to experience. And its these experiences I seek after as part of my journey to FIRE. Hence why the Michelin DC Guide. Allow yourself to immersed in not only fine dining, but unique dining. Each experience is its own adventure. 

Michelin DC Guide

In 2016, 12 restaurants in DC received Michelin Star awards. Nine of the restaurants received one Michelin Star and three received two stars. In 2018, DC upgraded one of their two-star restaurants to a three-start, representing the first three-star restaurant in the DC area.

As of today, DC has 16 restaurants that have a Michelin Star. 

The list of Michelin restaurants and their associated costs are as follows:

⭐ Three-Star

⭐ Two-Star

⭐ One-Star

Dining at These Michelin Star Restaurants

Firstly, the mission to eat at all the restaurants in the Michelin DC Guide requires quite a bit of planning. Not only do you need to budget out your dollars for this but that comes at the expense of other activities. You may have to reduce your eating out habits even more. In the end though, the universe will balance itself out by delivering to you a wonderfully unique dining experience. For me, this isn’t much of a change. My normal eating habits during the week include meal prepping for lunch and then eating at home for dinner. I’ll eat out on weekends occasionally but if I’m planning on hitting up a Michelin restaurant that month, I can easily fore go eating out other days. 

Additionally, many of these restaurants requires reservations far in advance. As a result, this will help greatly  with planning you future budget. When we tried to get Pineapple and Pearls, the website was slammed with users refreshing the page to get their reservations in. Let’s discuss the top three restaurants: 

The Inn At Little Washington – Cost: $238 w/ Optional $178 Wine Pairing per person. Total cost = $416

The Inn At Little Washington

The Inn At Washington, the only 3-Star in the DC Metropolitan area, offers three tasting menus to choose from:

  1. Four Decades of Enduring Classics
  2. The Gastronaut’s Menu
  3. The Good Earth (vegetarian)

All for the price of $238 each. With the optional wine pairing, they will serve you a wine that goes with each dish. However since this restaurant is a ways away from the city, guests sometimes reserve a room at the Inn. This needs to be factored into the total cost of wining and dining here.

minibar by Jose Andres – Cost: $275

Minibar By Jose Andres

minibar is very discretely located in the Penn quarter of DC. It’s probably the hardest restaurant to find in the Michelin DC Guide. If you did not know where you were going, chances are you’ll miss it! They do not advertise their restaurant with giant signs or anything. But luckily, I can show you on Google maps:

Minibar Map Location

minibar and barmini, both owned by Jose Andres, share a wall. Guests can choose to dine in the restaurant or simply go to the bar. Both sides have very special creations that you will not find anywhere. However, plan to make your reservations far in advance. And guests can choose from a variety of options for dining. The $275 ticket is the standard one. They serve you 20 courses with drinks. Anything not on the menu, such as wine, will have to be purchased additionally. 

Pineapple and Pearls – Cost: $325

Pineapple and Pearls

Pineapple and Pearls is located in the Southeast area of Washington, D.C. a few blocks away from the Navy Yard. For those who are native to DC, you’re probably thinking “South east? STAY AWAY!” Yeah Southeast has always had a terrible reputation. Muggings and gunshots happen frequently. But there’s been tremendous development in that area recently. One of the gems that came into the are was Pineapple and Pearls. 

Pineapple and Pearls is the most expensive out of the restaurants on the Michelin DC Guide. Regular dining at the dining table costs $325 per person. Additionally, it’s incredibly difficult to get a reservation. Reservation slots open up 5-weeks prior to the reservation date and must be made on their website. This website usually gets slammed hard by everyone trying to make a reservation. 

Once you’re there, you’re given a 12 courses to taste from the Chef’s menu. Each course is paired with a drink that complements the meal. Fortunately, this is included in the fixed price so you do not have to pay extra. 

In summary, it will cost around $2,224 to eat at all the restaurants in the Michelin DC Guide. Fortunately, I’ve already eaten at Minibar/Barmini, Pineapple and Pearls, Plume, and Blue Duck Tavern. My favorite so far has been Minibar. Jose Andres set the bar really high for restaurants in the DC area. As a result, there’s been a huge influx of new restaurants. 

2019 Restaurants to Complete the Michelin DC Guide

The remaining restaurants I still need to visit are:

  • The Inn At Little Washington – $238
  • Siren by RW – $50-75
  • Bresca – $68
  • Kinship – $44
  • Metier – $200
  • Masseria – $125
  • Komi – $165
  • The Dabney – $62
  • Fiola – $145
  • Rose’s Luxury – $32
  • Sushi Taro – $180
  • Tail Up Goat $45

Unfortunately, I will never go to Sushi Taro because of my seafood allergies. I looked at their website and it doesn’t seem like they offer any tasting menus that does not have seafood. But at least that’s $180 I save. 

Based on these prices, I’m looking to spend around $1,200 to complete the Michelin DC guide next year. That averages out to $100 per month, which I think is very manageable with a budget. For The Inn, the only 3-Star restaurant in the area, I will probably save that for a special occasion (my birthday maybe?)

In conclusion, it’s important to have a balance between saving and spending. After all, what’s the point of working towards financial independence if you don’t enjoy life? Even as something as expensive as Michelin Star restaurants can be managed with a budget. In the end, it’s important to both have fun and to plan for the future.

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7 thoughts on “Budgeting for Michelin Star Restaurants in DC”

  1. Amazing article dear !!
    Loves so much detailed post this is ..
    I learned so much new things and now this restaurant i would love to visit if am there <3 thanks for letting us know this amazing place exists ..
    It would be an amazing experience to be there!

  2. Extraordinary! I am envious. I wish we had dinner of these around here. I agree – it about more than just the food, the experience is what takes it over the top


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