Chef Josiah Citrin, owner of Melisse, is a happy man because the Forbes Travel Guide has just honored his restaurant as the only five-star dining establishment in Los Angeles.
"We've been striving for this since we've opened," said Citrin. "At the end of the day, we're a special occasion restaurant, and what are we going to do to create a memorable experience that is going to last forever."
How exactly does one earn an award? Unlike Zagat, where consumers simply write in, Forbes has incognito inspectors that go through a 550-item checklist.
"Every single one of these hotels has received a two-night, three-day inspection. And at the five-star level, we inspect every single one of those properties twice," said Jayne Griswold, former vice president of Forbes Travel Guide.
For 55 years, Forbes, formerly known as Mobile Travel Guide, does it's homework before doling out honors.
"We're measuring everything from how long it takes to get that first cocktail and how warmly the server, and how comfortable the server, makes you feel about ordering," said Griswold.
Inspectors are in training six months before they can evaluate, with ongoing updates to stay relevant to travelers needs.
At the five-star Montage hotel in Beverly Hills, General Manager Herman Elger says even the interview process is intense, then it's testing, training, checklists and manuals.
"I like to say that we need to know what the guest wants before the guests know that they want it," said Elger.
Along with Melisse in Santa Monica, Addison in San Diego, Studio in Laguna Beach and The French Laundry, Yountville earned five stars for restaurants.
Among the five-star hotels are Montage Laguna Beach, The Resort at Pelican Hill, Newport Coast, and Hotel Bel -Air.