ICYMI: This Small Taco Stand In Mexico City Was Awarded A Michelin Star

Taqueria El Califa de Leon, a hole-in-the-wall eating joint in Mexico City, recently won this coveted culinary accolade. Find out more below.

ICYMI: This Small Taco Stand In Mexico City Was Awarded A Michelin Star

A hole-in-the-wall taco joint in Mexico city has won a coveted Michelin star (Photo Credit: AFP)

The prestigious Michelin Guide recently announced its first-ever selection of the best restaurants in Mexico. It features accolades for a total of 157 restaurants, including 42 Bib Gourmands, 16 one Michelin Star and 2 two Michelin Stars establishments. One award that has made headlines around the world is the Michelin Star conferred upon a tiny taco stand in Mexico City. Taqueria El Califa de Leon, located in the San Rafael neighbourhood, has become one of the smallest eating joints in the world to win this coveted culinary accolade. It's also the first taco stand to receive a Michelin Star.

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Photo Credit: guide.michelin.com

Taqueria El Califa de Leon has been helmed by Chef Arturo Rivera Martinez for over 2 decades. He was presented with the iconic white chef's jacket by a Michelin representative. The no-frills stand was established more than 50 years ago by the parents of current owner Mario Hernandez. It occupies a space measuring around 100 square feet. The Michelin Guide took note of the compactness of the place but highlighted the "excellence" of its offerings. It states, "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."

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The Guide explained, "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." The signature Gaonera was created in honour of the celebrated Mexican bullfighter Rodolfo Gaona, whose nickname in the ring was "El Califa de Leon," as per AFP.

"My father said, 'Do you want me to tell you the secret of the meat? There is no secret,' only love and effort'," Mario Hernandez told AFP.  Furthermore, he said that his father taught him to always take care of quality, customer service and prices, because "life is a wheel of fortune with high times and low times." Taqueria El Califa de Leon has only four items on the menu. Each taco costs around $5, which is considered rather expensive according to local standards. Nevertheless, people continue to throng to the stand to get their hands on its lip-smacking - and now internationally renowned - tacos sans complications. "This is an award for Mexico... There are many fine restaurants in Mexico. But for a taqueria to win this star - that is something special," Chef Martinez told The Los Angeles Times.

Taqueria El Califa de Leon is not the first street food joint to win a Michelin star. In 2016, Chef Chan Hon Meng was awarded one for his stall at the Chinatown Complex Food Centre in Singapore.

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