Everything You Need To Know About Michelin's Bib Gourmand Category

Unless you are a food trivia fan or a foodie-in-the-know, the iconic, grinning icon that bears a passing resemblance to the "Ghostbusters" Marshmallow Man might only be known to you as "The Michelin Man." But the iconic character synonymous with both tires and fine dining actually has a name, and it is his moniker that the red food bible uses to mark a category of dining that the South China Morning Post calls "more relatable to the average diner," especially when compared to establishments that might be considered among the best in the world. 

The Michelin Bib Gourmand is named for "Bibendum," the Michelin Man's real name, which was taken from the Latin phrase "Nunc est bibendum" or "now we must eat." The classification itself is not new. Fine Dining Lovers reports that some restaurants in 1955 were listed in the famous guide by the letter "R," as these restaurants served good food at prices that weren't going to break the bank. 

It took several years for the "R" to become replaced by a Bibendum that licks his lips — more than 45 years in fact. Today, he is the symbol that the budget-conscious seek when they're in search of a Michelin-worthy meal, without having to pay haute cuisine prices.

Michelin doesn't set a price range for its Bib Gourmands

Michelin says there are no actual price thresholds for their Bib Gourmand restaurants, since inspectors — who are said to spend as much time tracking down these establishments as they do on the more expensive, starred restaurants — do take cost of living into consideration, even as they look at the quality of the dishes. In 2020, Fine Dining Lovers says that meant that a meal at a Bib Gourmand restaurant didn't have to cost more than "€36 in most European cities, $40 in most U.S. cities, £28 in the U.K. and Northern Ireland, HK300 in Hong Kong, or ¥5,000 in Tokyo."

Price is not the only consideration. Bib Gourmand restaurants are also meant to have a more down-to-earth style of cooking, akin to a great home-cooked meal. As Michelin puts it, "A Bib restaurant will also leave you with a sense of satisfaction at having eaten so well at such a reasonable price."

As of 2020, there were 3,362 Bib Gourmand restaurants around the world, with France laying claim to the highest number of Bib Gourmands, followed by Japan, the United States, and Germany. You're not going to find any chain restaurants on this list, but what you could discover is a promising establishment with the potential to become a Michelin-starred restaurant someday.