Michelin unveiled its first Mexican guide, awarding stars to restaurants in regions like Baja California, Oaxaca, and Nuevo León. At the same time, CDMX’s El Califa de León just became the first Mexican taco stand to obtain a Michelin star. The epic achievement was not lost on one of its customers, who remarked, “This is a historic day for Mexican cuisine, and we’re witnesses to it.”

Chef Arturo Rivera Martínez’s response? “Está chido… está padre.”

Ahead, find everything to know about the newly-starred taquería and chef Rivera Martínez’s surprising taco secrets.

Michelin chef Rivera Martínez shared a few of his cooking secrets

Michelin-starred chef Rivera Martínez told AP News that the “secret” behind his restaurant’s four tacos is “simplicity.” He explained, “It has only a tortilla, red or green sauce, and that’s it. That, and the quality of the meat.”

On the MICHELIN Guide Mexico 2024, reviewers call El Califa de León’s tacos “elemental and pure.” The “excellent” four tacos— bistec, chuleta, costilla, and Gaonera— include the highest-quality meat (sourced from a secret distributor) and made-to-order tortillas. The taco stand, which opened in 1968 and measures 100 square feet, is “bare bones” and only fits a few diners at the same time.

But the “expertly cooked” beef with hints of salt and lime makes it a can’t-miss experience. Plus the homemade salsitas, of course.

El Califa de León, which received one Michelin star this year, was awarded at a ceremony in Mexico City this week. But no matter the taquería’s prestigious awards— which are bringing even more customers than usual— chef Rivera Martínez and owner Mario Hernández Alonso plan to stay true to their ethos. High quality meat, plus “love and effort.”

As for the chef’s other taco secrets, he places thinly-sliced beef fillets on a 680-degree grill for less than a minute on each side. A bit of lime and salt y ya está.

And when it comes to the taquería’s name, it was made to win. It was named after iconic Mexican bullfighter Rodolfo Gaona, whose nickname was El Califa de León.

Chef Rivera Martínez, who works in “300 degrees of heat” every day, told Azteca Noticias that he has worked in the spot for 20 years. Tortilla maker Martha Vega said the taste of tortillas changes when they are touched with a bare hand, while owner Hernández Alonso called their taco stand “a small business… a barrio taquería, and we are proud of it.”