Local restaurants given ‘Michelin Plate’ award hope for bright future amid pandemic


SAN DIEGO — The five San Diego County restaurants that were honored with the “Michelin Plate” award are hoping the award gives them a boost out of the pandemic.

In the heart of Coronado at “Little Frenchie,” customers can taste a little bit of Paris.

“French onion soup and a burger and on the burger they had raclette cheese that they poured over, so it was really really good, ” customer Neal Manowitz said.

It was one of five restaurants to be honored with the Michelin Plate award for serving “very good food” — an award they didn’t even apply for.

“This is really, really awesome news, especially coming out of COVID,” said David Spatafore, of Little Frenchie. “It couldn’t be a better present for the restaurant, the staff, the chefs.”

It’s welcome news for businesses hit so hard during the pandemic, and even at one point, had a staff member test positive. 

“As cases have come up, we’ve been able to isolate them,” Spatafore said. “We haven’t had any spread. We’ve worked really hard to get our staff vaccinated. We’re looking forward to the end of this.”

A sentiment shared by another restaurant awarded the plate, an Asian fusion spot called “Animae.”

“We opened and closed a lot during the last year-and-a-half,” said Brian Malarkey, of Animae. “It’s been very, very stressful, but we finally feel like we are on pace to do what we want to do.”

Malarkey hopes the awards can give San Diego’s struggling restaurant industry a major boost.

“Gosh, let’s make this the roaring twenties part deux,” Malarkey said. “We’re throwing a party here at Animae, so if you want to get away from it a while, come hang out with us. You eat the best food in town.”

The other restaurants that made the list include Callie in East Village, Fort Oak in Mission Hills and Menya Ultra in Kearny Mesa.

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