This Humble $5 Taco Stand Just Earned A Michelin Star
— 20 May 2024

This Humble $5 Taco Stand Just Earned A Michelin Star

— 20 May 2024
Garry Lu
Garry Lu

Taquería El Califa de León an unpretentious hole-in-the-wall eatery located in Mexico City’s San Rafael neighbourhood  has joined the vaunted likes of Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle and Jay Fai, after being awarded a Michelin star in the eponymous guide’s inaugural country edition. A resounding victory for no-frills dining.

The humble 10-foot-by-10-foot stand was established in 1968 and has been slinging elite-level (and by all accounts, deeply satisfying) tacos ever since. The current head chef Arturo Rivera Martínez, on the other hand, is “at least” two decades into his tenure here.

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“The secret is the simplicity of our taco,” he told the Associated Press.

“It has only a tortilla, red, or green sauce, and that’s it. That, and the quality of the meat.”

“There is a reason why El Califa de León has endured for more than half a century,” reads the Michelin Guide’s in its recommendation for this taqueria, echoing Chef Martínez’s sentiments.

[It] may be bare bones with just enough room for a handful of diners to stand at the counter, but its creation — The Gaonera Taco [named in honour of Mexcian bullfighter Rodolfo Gaona] — is exceptional.”

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.”

Other options are few but excellent, and include bistec (beef steak), chuleta (pork chop), and costilla (beef rib). With meat and tortillas of this calibre, the duo of house-made salsas is hardly even necessary.”

 José Luis Rodríguez Ávila, El Califa de León‘s manager, joked of the taco stand’s sheer daily output: “We’re cows’ worst enemy.”

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The best part? A feed here will only set you back between MX$53 to MX$82 (AU$4.75 to AU$7.50). A tad more if you feel like washing down the Michelin guide’s favourite tacos with a Coke  and cash only, of course.

All up, including Taquería El Califa de León, the Michelin Guide’s debut Mexican edition awarded:

  • 2 x Two Stars;
  • 16 x One Stars;
  • 6 x Green Stars (awarded for sustainability and “eco-friendly culinary practices”).

Find out more below.

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Garry Lu
After stretching his legs with companies such as The Motley Fool and the odd marketing agency, Garry joined Boss Hunting in 2019 as a fully-fledged Content Specialist. In 2021, he was promoted to News Editor. Garry proudly retains a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, black bruises from Muay Thai, as well as a black belt in all things pop culture. Drop him a line at [email protected]


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