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Modest Mexican taco restaurant wins Michelin star

The first Michelin guide was launched in 1900 to encourage motorists to discover restaurants around France
The first Michelin guide was launched in 1900 to encourage motorists to discover restaurants around France - Copyright AFP/File TIMOTHY A. CLARY
The first Michelin guide was launched in 1900 to encourage motorists to discover restaurants around France - Copyright AFP/File TIMOTHY A. CLARY

A hole-in-the-wall taqueria that offers just four types of tacos and two salsas is among the first restaurants in Mexico to be awarded a star by the prestigious Michelin Guide.

El Califa de Leon is one of 18 restaurants given either one or two stars in the inaugural Michelin Guide Mexico unveiled Tuesday.

The small establishment, whose history spans more than 50 years, has room for only a few customers at a time in the San Rafael district of Mexico City.

“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,” the Michelin Guide said on its website.

“Thinly sliced beef filet is expertly cooked to order, seasoned with only salt and a squeeze of lime. At the same time, a second cook prepares the excellent corn tortillas alongside. The resulting combination is elemental and pure,” it added.

The “Gaonera” was created in honor of the celebrated Mexican bullfighter Rodolfo Gaona, whose nickname in the ring was “El Califa de Leon.”

Two decidedly more upmarket Mexico City restaurants were each awarded two stars.

Michelin praised Quintonil for “an enticing melding of excellent local product, impressive execution, and great creativity to produce refined compositions. 

“The tasting menu is constantly evolving but may reveal delights such as crab and shards of blue corn tostada arranged with a vivid pipian verde enhanced with untraditional elements like galangal, lemongrass, and makrut lime,” it said. 

At Pujol, meanwhile, “tradition and invention go hand-in-hand in the likes of scallop ceviche with egg salad or grilled Baja coast rockfish with butternut squash puree and sherry foam,” it said.

“The savory progression culminates with mole madre, an effort like no other that celebrates Mexican history and cuisine in the most profound way,” it added.

Tyre-manufacturing brothers Andre and Edouard Michelin launched their first guide in 1900 to encourage motorists to discover restaurants around France.

It has since expanded to dozens of destinations around the world.

AFP
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