Hole-in-the-wall stand selling $5 tacos wins Michelin star in first Mexican edition of the prestigious guide

Hole-in-the-wall stand selling $5 tacos wins Michelin star in first Mexican edition of the prestigious guide
  • A taco stand in Mexico City has been awarded a Michelin star.

  • It is the first taco stand to win the award in Mexico.

  • The taquería's simple but "exceptional" Gaonera taco has been key to its success.

A small taco stand in Mexico City has been awarded a much coveted Michelin star as part of the guide's first Mexican edition.

The 10-foot by 10-foot Taquería El Califa de León was founded more than 50 years ago in the Mexican capital's San Rafael neighborhood.

And while the "bare bones" stand has "just enough room for a handful of diners to stand at the counter," it's distinguished itself as one of Mexico's best eateries — partly thanks to its "exceptional" Gaonera taco, the Michelin Guide says on its website.

"Thinly sliced beef filet is expertly cooked to order, seasoned with only salt and a squeeze of lime," the Guide says. "At the same time, a second cook prepares the excellent corn tortillas alongside."

"The resulting combination is elemental and pure," it adds.

The Gaonera was named after the Mexican bullfighter Rodolfo Gaona, whose was nicknamed "El Califa de León."

A woman makes tortillas for tacos at the Michelin-starred Taqueria El Califa de Leon, in Mexico City
The Taquería El Califa de León.GUSTAVO GRAF/Reuters

Head chef Arturo Rivera Martínez told the Associated Press that the secret to the taquería's success was "the simplicity of our taco."

"It has only a tortilla, red or green sauce, and that's it. That, and the quality of the meat," he said.

And that simplicity even seems to extend to drink pairings — Rivera Martínez said he liked a Coke with his food.

A single taco from the stand costs around $5, which while relatively expensive for Mexico, still seems reasonable for such highly praised cuisine.

In an online statement, the Michelin Guide celebrated its first Mexican edition: "What a joy it is to honor the uniqueness of the Mexican gastronomic landscape in Mexico City."

"The first and very promising selection is an illustration of how the country is showcasing its regions, with their cultures and traditions that are as distinctive as they are distinguishable," it continued.

While Michelin-starred restaurants are associated with fine dining and high prices, humble gems that serve delicious food that doesn't cost a fortune are also recognized by the judges of the prestigious restaurant guide.

In 2016, Hawker Chan in Singapore's Chinatown Food Center became one of the world's first street food stalls to be awarded a Michelin star.

Media outlets then dubbed its $2.25 signature dish the world's cheapest Michelin-starred meal. Founder Chan Hong Meng previously told Business Insider that customers lined up for up to five hours to try his food.

"I became a celebrity overnight. The whole world knew about me and my food. It's a childhood dream that came true," the Malaysian-born chef told BI last year.

Michellin star chef Chan Hon Meng (Hawker Chan) prepares food during the Bread & Butter by Zalando at Festsaal Kreuzberg on September 2, 2017 in Berlin, Germany.
Chan Hong Meng, founder of Hawker Chan, was awarded a Michelin Star in 2016.Sascha Steinbach/Getty Images for Zalando

Tire-manufacturing brothers André and Édouard Michelin released the first Michelin Guide in 1900 in an attempt to encourage motorists to try out restaurants around France.

Earning a spot on the Guide is now one of the most coveted achievements in the restaurant industy. It currently rates more than 30,000 establishments in over 30 territories.

Restaurants hoping to earn a star have to impress anonymous judges who rate their dining experience on five assessment criteria — the quality of the products, mastery of flavour and cooking techniques, the chef's personality in their cuisine, value for money, and consistency between inspections.

Another surprise Michelin award came in April when Disney World's Victoria & Albert's restaurant — which it calls its "culinary crown jewel" — earned a coveted star.

In its review of the restaurant, the Michelin Guide said: "This restaurant is by no means an easy reservation, but the reward is a kind of magic rarely seen these days."

It added: "The setting is intimate, and the pacing is that of a leisurely, three-hour waltz orchestrated by a gracious brigade of veteran servers."

Read the original article on Business Insider