If you want to explore the finest dining in the world, likely you'll head to a destination like San Francisco, New York, Paris or Tokyo, where renowned restaurants abound, many of them listed in the Michelin Guides. 

The Michelin Guides started out about 120 years ago as guide books published by a French tire company in the hopes of getting more French drivers on the move and thus increase the demand for tires.

Fast forward to today, when the Michelin Guides, 30 million sold, are best-sellers that rate over 30,000 establishments around the world, awarding coveted stars to those that meet their criteria. 

After a hiatus due to COVID, Michelin this week released an updated California guide, awarding five new two-star restaurants and 22 new one-star restaurants across the state.

Restaurant comeback? Real Money's Jonathan Heller says he restaurant sector is showing signs of a comeback, but higher labor and food costs could take a big bite out of returns. They might not be Michelin-starred, but these restaurant stocks could be money makers. Get his investing insights and trading ideas.

TheStreet Recommends

The awarding of the stars—or their detraction—can sometimes make or break a restaurant. Zero to 3 stars are given based on five criteria: quality of the ingredients used, mastery of flavor and cooking techniques, the personality of the chef in his cuisine, value for money and consistency between visits. The reviewers do not consider interior decor, table setting, or service quality when awarding stars — these are instead indicated by the number of 'covers' it receives, represented by a fork and spoon symbol in the guide.

To find the countries with the most Michelin-starred restaurants, Chef’s Pencil, an international foodie magazine that also reports on industry news and trends, analyzed the number of Michelin-starred restaurants reported on the official Michelin Guide website. For per-capita rankings, they included countries that are either fully covered by the guide or have multiple regions covered by the guide. Where the coverage was limited to a few regions, states, or prefectures, calculations only take into account the population for the covered areas. In the U.S., for example, the guide only covers California, New York, Illinois, and Washington, D.C.

Here's the Newest Plant-Based Stock to Join the 'Eat More Plants' Boom

For the lists of most expensive and cheapest cities to eat at a Michelin restaurant, Chef’s Pencil researched the prices for the top tasting menu at the Michelin website. The top tasting menu is usually an 8-12 course served at dinner. Some restaurants offer a single tasting menu or multiple menus that are priced identically.

Get more trading insights and investment ideas from the contributors on Real Money.

These are the countries with the most Michelin-starred restaurants, followed by the most and least expensive cities to eat at a 2- or 3-star restaurant.