Michelin Made a Big Splash With Its First Group of Mexico Honorees

Last night in Mexico City, chefs from all over the country gathered at El Cantoral, a concert hall in Coyoacán, for a ceremony for the first-ever Michelin Guide to Mexico. The regions under consideration included Mexico City, Oaxaca, Nuevo León, Quintana Roo, Baja California Sur, and Baja California. In all, 97 restaurants were recommended for the guide: 42 restaurants earned Bib Gourmands; 6 received Green Stars; 16 restaurants earned one star; and both Quintonil (CDMX) and Pujol (CDMX) were awarded two Michelin stars. No restaurants in Mexico received a three-star rating.

“There were lots of nervous people in the room,” chef Roberto Alcocer of Malva tells Eater San Diego. Alcocer’s Valle in Oceanside holds one Michelin star, while his flagship Malva is on the guide as a recommended restaurant. The Service Award went to Restaurante Amores in Tecate, and Lauren Plascencia of Animalón took home the Sommelier award. These wins set the scene for what would become a big night for Baja California restaurants in Tecate, Tijuana, Ensenada, and Valle de Guadalupe.

Twenty-two restaurants entered the inaugural recommended list, including contemporary Baja California cuisine restaurants Corazón D’Petra, Primitivo Restaurante, Deckmans, Malva, Lunario, Bruma Wine Garden, Envero en el Valle, Kous Kous, and Restaurante Latitud 32, as well as Olivea Farm to Table in Valle de Guadalupe. Representing Ensenada in the awards were Manzanilla, Madre, Ophelia, Punta Morro, Taqueria La Principal, Tacos Marco Antonio, and Tacos Mi Rancho El Fénix.

In Tijuana, Oryx Restaurante and Mision 19 were joined by Tacos El Franc (known for its carne asada and adobada), and Tecate’s lone star-winner was Restaurante Amores. On Instagram, Tacos El Franc made a colorful celebratory post.

Other honorees received bib Gourmands, which denote “friendly restaurants that serve good food at moderate prices,” per the Michelin guide. The recipients include Valle de Guadalupe’s Merak Restaurante, Villa Torél, and La Cocina de Doña Esthela (which serves mean barbacoa de borrego tatemado), along with a quartet from Ensenada that included Sabina, Humo y Sal, Casa Marcelo, and La Concheria. Tijuana’s La Carmelita Molino y Cocina rounded out the category.

Valle de Guadalupe restaurants Animalón, Conchas de Piedra, and Damiana each received one Michelin star. “I was more than surprised, and to be able to share this with my dad was something special,” chef Esteban Lluis of Damiana tells Eater San Diego, promising to “continue to push the boundaries. In our Valle de Guadalupe guide, Eater San Diego noted Damiana as “one to watch in 2024.” Additionally, Lunario, Conchas de Piedra, and Deckmans were each awarded a Green Star for their commitment to sustainability. Chef Drew Deckman will soon open a new restaurant with a sustainable mission called Watershed stateside in San Diego on University Avenue.

Some notable restaurants were left off of the awards list, while some unexpected entrants made their Michelin debut. Fauna, which was crowned Best Restaurant in Mexico at the ceremony honoring Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants, was snubbed by Michelin. It’s a bit of a head-scratcher that Valle de Guadalupe’s “most booked restaurant” on OpenTable, came away with nothing. In contrast, chef Hussong’s casual Bruma Wine Garden was included in the Recommended guide.

Still, Alcocer, a Valle de Guadalupe chef, is taking it in stride. “I didn’t get mine [Michelin star,] but I know the feeling. I just have to tune up my machine for next year,” he says. The response bodes well for Michelin’s selections, especially among chefs who were not expecting the honor to go to their restaurants, including Alcicer and Lluis.

“I can’t wait to go back home and start planning with the team,” Says Lluis.This is going to be a great opportunity for us to grow in many ways and that’s exciting.”

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