The best Mexican restaurant in America is a fancy taqueria that costs $157 a head

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Facebook/Californios

The world’s restaurant bible has named a champion of Mexican cuisine.

San Francisco’s Californios has become the first and only Mexican restaurant in North America to receive the illustrious two-star designation from the Michelin Guide, a restaurant rating system that makes or breaks fine-dining spots. Two stars is the second highest accolade.

Michelin revealed its 2018 guide to spots in the Bay Area on Wednesday. The region, which includes San Francisco and wine country, received a total 55 Michelin stars – including seven three-starred restaurants.

Here’s what it’s like to eat at Californios, the best Mexican restaurant in the US.


Californios brings a new restaurant concept to San Francisco’s Mission District: “Mex luxe.”

Taco Tuesday 'Til Infinity. . . . ????????: @mediumraw_

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San Francisco is full of casual taquerias where you can eat a gut-busting Mission-style burrito. But Californios puts a fine-dining spin on the city’s most beloved cuisine.

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Melia Robinson/Business Insider

We tried 8 of the best burritos in San Francisco – here’s the champion »


Californios offers a nightly tasting menu of about 16 courses that changes with the seasons.

A Snowflake ❄️ of Dungeness Crab Aguachile. #californiossf #wintersolstice

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Dinner costs $157 a head, plus an additional cost for the beverage pairing.

It's lonely at the top. All this shrimp; nobody to share it with. #californiossf

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The restaurant is small and intimate, with only 22 seats. Warm leather banquettes, white tablecloths, grayed-out windows, and intensely colored art create a private, upscale feel.

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Californios

Source: San Francisco Chronicle and Californios


Chef Val Cantu takes familiar Mexican flavors but veers away from traditional combinations. “I want to create something totally new,” Cantu told the San Francisco Chronicle in 2015.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle

Saucing. Thank you @ulteriorepicure for taking such beautiful photos.

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The menu is as much Mexican as it is Californian, according to the Michelin Guide.

“While the feast set forth by Chef Cantu is inspired by Mexican flavors, it is modern Californian at its foundation,” reads a review from Michelin Guide “inspectors” who dined there.

This dish no longer exists. #californiossf

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Here’s how Californios does queso fresco, with fresh cheese and Frog Hollow apricots.


Enfrijoladas are corn tortillas prepared in a black bean sauce.

Enfrijolada Photo by @mediumraw_

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Fish taco, anyone?

Fish Taco #onethingyoucantdoisstopusnow #californiossf

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Sour cherry jam, buttercream frosting, and sprinkles complete this pink cake dessert.


The name Californios borrows a term for Californians of Mexican descent. “They were people who left Mexico to find something, and do something special,” Cantu told the Chronicle. “I thought that was a pretty accurate description of what we’re trying to do.”

Source: San Francisco Chronicle

Preppin' Weapon. Andrew Garcia, @coffeecuppapi

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Cantu ran a successful pop-up restaurant in San Francisco before the chef and his wife, Carolyn, opened the brick-and-mortar spot in 2015. The restaurant remains family-run.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle


You’ll need a reservation to get in — but good luck with that. After receiving two stars from the Michelin Guide this week, Californios is booked through most of November already.

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The team at Californios celebrates the restaurant’s two stars in the newly-revealed Michelin Guide.
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Facebook/Californios

Source: Californios