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Here Are All the Restaurants (and the One Taquería In the Entire Country That Got a Star) On Michelin’s First Ever Mexico Guide

Europe's Michelin Guide recognized both Baja Californias, Quintana Roo, Mexico City, Oaxaca, and Nuevo Léon. Most of the usual nice restaurants got stars, but there were some questionable omissions. Also, in a country teeming with life-changing street food, only one taquería in the entire country was awarded "1 star."

Califa de León.

Califa de León.

Applause, cheering, and tears followed the announcement of Michelin's first-ever Mexico Guide ceremony last night. Mexico is now home to 2 two-star establishments, 16 one-star winners, six green-star recipients (issued based on both sustainability and merit), and a whopping 42 Bib Gourmands, which is no shocker for a country that possesses one of the most active street food vending communities in the world.

Europe's Michelin Guide recognized both Baja Californias, Quintana Roo, Mexico City, Oaxaca, and Nuevo Léon. Most of the usual restaurants got the stars, but there were some questionable omissions.

Noticeably, in a country teeming with life-changing, delicious tacos, only one taquería received a star: Taquería El Califa de León.

It wouldn't be a proper Michelin announcement without some eyebrow-lifting omissions in its star system: In Mexico City, Máximo Bistrot, Masala y Maíz, Contramar, and Mi Compa Chava were all absent, despite all of these classic establishments still being one of the hardest reservations to score in the city (or longest wait to eat in Mi Compa Chava's case). Masala and Contramar did make it to their Bib Gourmand section though, which recognizes more affordable restaurants.

"On the other side it’s the perfect excuse for already overpriced fine dining restaurants to raise prices and make it (even more) unaffordable for a Mexican audience to go and enjoy."

Anais Martinez

"On one side it’s really cool that restaurants and food spots that are often overlooked by other famous lists and who have always been doing an amazing jobs are finally recognized. From small spots like esquina y fugaz to taquerías that are a total institution of the city like Los Parados and Califa del León," says Anais Martinez, a food expert in Mexico City and founder of Devoured MX, the city's leading food tour company.

"On the other side it’s the perfect excuse for already overpriced fine dining restaurants to raise prices and make it (even more) unaffordable for a Mexican audience to go and enjoy."

"I'm super happy that the Michelin Guide travels to places and it creates waves," says Pablo Cruz, the creator of Netflix's Taco Chronicles series. "But I also feel that the scouts have to work hard to understand what is the real food according to locals and not just have a scout traveling to Mexico from France romantically eating tacos and creating imaginary standards."

Carmelita Molino
A taco de asada at La Carmelita Molino in Tijuana. Photo by Javier Cabral for L.A. TACO.

Closer to Los Angeles, the Bib Gourmand section recognized L.A. TACO-approved favorites La Carmelita Molino and Tacos El Franc in Tijuana. There were a handful of restaurants in Valle de Guadalupe (located about a three and a half hour drive away from Los Angeles) that received one-star and green-star awards. However, Fauna Restaurante was not recognized at all. Despite it just being named the #1 Restaurant in Mexico on the Top 50 list.

Also, Guadalajara, and Xokol, which is arguably one of Mexico's most important maíz-based fine dining restaurants, was omitted as a region entirely.

Michelin was outed for its questioable "pay-to-play" approach to covering cities last year by The New York Times in a exposé that dived into how the tire company footed the bill for all the lavish meals needed to compile a guide, which can take up to two years of scouting. In the thorough report, Michelin admitted to accepting undisclosed amounts of money from city and state tourism agencies for the privilege of being included.

The question remains: Now that Michelin recognized Mexico, will that finally stop people from asking if they can drink the [purified] water at these nice restaurants?

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