By Richard Leong
(Reuters) - The number of the restaurants in the San Francisco area with Michelin's highest accolade of three stars grew to seven in the 2018 dining guide for the region that will be launched on Friday.
Michelin, which rates restaurants, awarded three stars to six restaurants last year in City by the Bay, and the neighboring wine producing Napa Valley that was recently hit by deadly wildfires that killed more than 40 people and caused millions of dollars in damages.
Michelin had postponed the release of its San Francisco area eating guide by nearly two weeks because of the wildfires.
"There is no denying San Francisco and its neighboring regions have some of the most incredibly exciting and dynamic restaurants in the country," Michael Ellis, international director of the Michelin Guide, said on Wednesday.
Michelin reviewers agreed to elevate Coi to three-star status due to its head chef Matthew Kirkley's innovative seafood dishes, according to Ellis.
"He has really upped his game. We were excited to move Coi from two to three stars," Ellis said.
Coi joined Benu, The French Laundry, Manresa, Quince, The Restaurant at the Meadowood and Saison in the three-star group for their "exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey."
There are more than 100 restaurants in the world with the three-star distinction.
Michelin's anonymous "inspectors" rate restaurants in 28 countries and its stars are seen as a sign of top-notch dining around the world. It also rates restaurants in three other U.S. locations - New York City, Chicago and Washington.
Michelin awarded stars to 55 restaurants in northern California in its latest guide, up from 54 a year ago.
In the two-star category for their "excellent cuisine, worth a detour," SingleThread debuted in the 2018 guide for its beguiling menu that features local ingredients with inspiration from Japan, Ellis said.
Californios became the first U.S. restaurant that serves Mexican cuisine with two Michelin stars.
Other two-star eateries include Acquerello, Atelier Crenn, Baumé, Commis and Lazy Bear.
Michelin awarded one star to 41 restaurants for a second straight year for their being "a very good restaurant in its category."
Four restaurants that made their one-star debut are In Situ, Kenzo, Kinjo and Rich Table.
(Reporting by Richard Leong; editing by Diane Craft)