Taco Stand Receives Michelin Star in Mexico City

by Peter Candia
michelin star taco

The Michelin Guide reviews restaurants in select geographic areas and awards standouts with stars. Their system rates on a one-to-three star scale, with three being the epitome of culinary excellence. Still, it is a great accomplishment to receive even just one star from the Michelin Guide—ratings are typically reserved for upscale restaurants, though there are exceptions. Recently, the Michelin Guide awarded one Michelin Star to an unexpected restaurant: a taqueria in Mexico City. 

The Mexico Michelin Guide

2024 was the debut year for Mexico in the Michelin Guide. That means that before this year, there were zero Michelin-Starred restaurants in the country. When the list debuted earlier this month, it was revealed that 18 total restaurants made the list—16 one-star restaurants and two two-star restaurants. Among these 18 restaurants was a small taqueria that has been making waves before and after the guide’s release. 

Taquería El Califa de León in San Rafael, Mexico City only has four items on the menu, operating out of what is essentially just a taco stand. But these are no ordinary tacos—at least as far as the Michelin Guide is concerned. 

Chef Arturo Rivera Martínez’s tacos became famous for their sheer simplicity. Each taco has only a protein, red or green salsa and a fresh-griddled tortilla. 

“There is a reason why El Califa de León has endured for more than half a century. This taqueria may be bare bones with just enough room for a handful of diners to stand at the counter but its creation, the Gaonera taco, is exceptional,” states the Michelin Guide in their write-up of Taquería El Califa de León. “Thinly sliced beef filet is expertly cooked to order, seasoned with only salt and a squeeze of lime,” they continue. 

The Gaonera taco consists of thin-sliced beef that blankets the hot tortilla. Other taco options include beef rib, steak and pork. That’s it.

Who wouldn’t want to eat a Michelin-starred taco? 

The 2024 Michelin Guide 

Mexico’s inclusion in the Michelin Guide is long overdue, and the country is a welcome addition to the growing list of restaurants rated by the guide each year. If you ask me, the more countries and cities that are included, the better. With the Michelin Guide being the leading voice in culinary review, it is important that the list continues to expand its horizons. 

This doesn’t mean adding more restaurants to the list, but it does mean considering more. Plus, I’m still bitter that New Jersey doesn’t have a Michelin Guide of its own. Maybe one day. 

About the Author/s

All posts

Peter Candia is the Food + Drink Editor at New Jersey Digest. A graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, Peter found a passion for writing midway through school and never looked back. He is a former line cook, server and bartender at top-rated restaurants in the tri-state area. In addition to food, Peter enjoys politics, music, sports and anything New Jersey.

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