Michelin Starred Tacos
By Nicholas Gill
Enrique Olvera proved tacos weren’t relegated to street food with his taco omakase, an 8-course taco tasting at his Mexico City restaurant Pujol, currently number 12 on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. While the Michelin guide doesn’t send its anonymous reviewers to Mexico, the tacos at Mexican and Mexican inspired restaurants around the world have earned recognition from the influential red guide:
Tacos María: Orange County, California
Some say Michelin missed a chance by not awarding a Los Angeles street cart like Mariscos Jaliscos a star like they do hawker stalls in Singapore. However, the guide didn’t totally blow off Southern California tacos, awarding a star to Orange County’s Tacos María in 2019. Carlos Salgado’s restaurant is far from a bare bones taqueria, though tacos – arrachera, pork cheek, shiitake mushroom chorizo, etc – make up a good portion of the a la carte menu. There’s even a smoked sturgeon taco on the prix fixe.
Black beans, queso fresco, lavender, onions and garlic crema at Tacos María. Photo By Anne Watson.
Californios – San Francisco, California
The world’s only two Michelin starred Mexican restaurant, Californios’s chef Val M. Cantu uses the tortilla as a vehicle for his unique, highly technical cuisine that blends the flavors of Mexico and Northern California. The menu, which sometimes reaches 20 courses, changes often, though has featured everything from a hard-shell taco made from yuca filled with uni and finger lime to a blue corn masa taco topped with mushrooms and paired with a 1986 Verdelho Madeira.
Californios, Oaxacan Green Masa, local Dungeness crab and radish topped with Golden Oscietra caviar. Photo by Jim Sullivan.
Hoja Santa: Barcelona, Spain
Part of Albert Adrià’s Barcelona empire, Hoja Santa is a tribute to Mexican food that doesn’t shy away from haute ingredients like foie gras and truffles. When it absorbed the more casual restaurant Niño Viejo next door, it added an entire section of tacos that include uncommon pairings like bone marrow and chambarete or eggplant and lamb.
Hojo Santa brisket taco. Photo courtesy of Hojo Santa / Instagram.
Oxomoco – Brooklyn, New York
New York City has several Michelin starred Mexican restaurants, such as Casa Enrique and Claro, though the best of the bunch might just be Oxomoco in Greenpoint. Making their own masa from corn sourced from Oaxaca, taco fillings like beet chorizo, pork cheek, and lamb barbacoa utilize the smoky flavors of their wood fired grill.
Oxomoco crab tostado with nasturium vanilla mayo, pickled onion, radish, habanero. Photo by Justin Thomas Bazdarich.
Punto MX – Madrid, Spain
To create the kind of Mexican restaurant he wanted in Spain, chef Roberto Ruiz needed the support of a nine hectare biodynamic farm north of Madrid, where more than 80 different species of Mexican products are produced. Tacos are often topped with edible insects like maguey-worms and roasted, alfalfa-fed chapulín crickets.
Punto MX beef taco with purple corn tortilla and habanero chili sauce. Photo courtesy of Punto MX / Instagram.