The First Michelin Mexico Guide Is Out (and They’re Not All Expensive)

The First Michelin Mexico Guide Is Out (and They’re Not All Expensive)

The First Michelin Mexico Guide Is Out (and They’re Not All Expensive)

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The First Michelin Mexico Guide Is Out (and They’re Not All Expensive)

Fun fact: did you know the world-famous Michelin dining guides were created to sell tires?

It’s true — and that’s why it’s called the “Michelin” guide, as the Michelin tire company started rating restaurants to encourage people to drive more, and thus need to replace their tires more often. But now, the Michelin dining guides recognize the best restaurants and chefs in the world, and are available for 25 different counties, as well as select cities like New York City and Chicago, IL.

The downside of Michelin restaurants is that they’re usually pretty expensive, since they’re considered the best in the world. Inexpensive Michelin restaurants are becoming more common, but are still very much in the minority. And that’s what makes the newest Michelin Guide to Mexico so exciting. It’s the first time Michelin has ever done a guide to Mexico, and it covers 18 restaurants. It was released on May 14, and two restaurants got two stars each, with the other 16 receiving one illustrious star.

michelin guide to mexico - dish at grand velas

Photo: Velas Resorts Mexico/

The full list is below, but one restaurant getting extra attention is Taquería El Califa de León, a tiny taco stand in Mexico City that’s been around for roughly 50 years. It’s the only taqueria to be included in the Michelin Guide to Mexico, and has no website or online presence. In fact, it barely has much of a menu: just a few simple beef tacos. But they’re cheap, delicious, and now, among the best in the entire country. The head chef told multiple sources, including the Associated Press, that the secret to its success is the simple menu, adding just a fresh tortilla and a few different sauces to the meat.

It’s cash only, and fairly affordable by US standards (though a bit pricey for a taqueria): a basic beef taco will set you back 53 pesos, or about $3. The authors of the Michelin Guide to Mexico clearly like cheap eats, as they didn’t hold back when singing the taqueria’s praises.

“…the Gaonera taco, is exceptional,” they wrote. “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.”

Where to find the restaurants in the Michelin Guide to Mexico

Here’s the full list of awarded restaurants. All received one star, except for Pujol and Quintonil, which were each award two. Interestingly, several of the restaurants below are inside larger, all-inclusive resorts, bucking the idea that corporate hotels don’t put a focus on quality food. That includes two inside the Grand Vegas Resorts, as well as HA and Le Chique. While Taquería El Califa de León is the least expensive restaurant on the list, four other restaurants are rated with two dollar signs ($$), putting them in the category of $25-$50 per person for a meal.

In addition to the 18 restaurants below, another 42 received a Bib Gourmand designation, acknowledging a high quality of food and drink at a price range slightly more accessible to the average traveler.

  • Pujol, Mexico City (two stars)
  • Quintonil, Mexico City (two stars)
  • Animalón, Valle de Guadaloupe
  • Cocina de Autor Los Cabos, Los Cabos (Inside Grand Velas Los Cabos)
  • Cocina de Autor Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen (Inside Grand Velas Riviera Maya)
  • Em, Mexico City
  • HA, Playa del Carmen: (Inside Hotel Xcaret)
  • KOLI Cocina de Origen, Monterrey
  • Le Chique, Cancun (Inside Azul Beach Resort)
  • Pangea, Monterrey
  • Damiana, Ensenada 
  • Los Danzantes Oaxaca, Oaxaca
  • Conchas de Piedra, Valle de Guadaloupe
  • Rosetta, Mexico City
  • Sud 777, Mexico City
  • Taquería El Califa de León, Mexico City
  • Levadura de Olla Restaurante, Oaxaca
  • Esquina Común, Mexico City (with no fixed location)

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Hi, I’m Steven, a Florida native, who left my career in corporate wealth management six years ago to embark on a summer of soul searching that would change the course of my life forever.