Food by VICE

The World's Best Breakfast Is in a Small Village in Northwest Mexico

The only ingredient used to season the best breakfast dish on earth is grain salt, and it’s paired with nothing but simple, well-seasoned refried beans and handmade tortillas.

by Pablo Mata Olay
Sep 10 2016, 8:00pm

Esthela Bueno wakes up every day at 3 in the morning and goes to her clay oven to cook one of the most popular dishes in her restaurant: "borrego tatemado" (shredded wood-roasted lamb). One of the advantages of living in her workplace is that she can have absolute control over her kitchen—from the ingredients that she produces to the dairy products (cows are grazing outside) to the complicated recipes, such as the lamb that is currently simmering in her backyard.

At this early hour, surrounded by the silence of Valle de Guadalupe in the Northeast of Mexico, she has a lot to do: milk the cows, make a delicious fresh cheese, bake (sweet bread), get fresh eggs from the pen to prepare the dried meat. Everything needs to be ready by 8 in the morning, because the hordes of hungry people arrive from every corner of the state, country, and even the US—and they're usually very punctual.

Pre-breakfast appetizers

Homemade fresh cheese made with milk from her backyard's cows

Of course, she doesn't do everything by herself. Another advantage of having a restaurant in her home is that her family is always around: two daughters, a son, and a husband that help her to keep her restaurant as one of the most successful in the area.

How successful? Last year she won the award for "Best Breakfast in the World," according to FoodieHub, and international culinary guide that takes into account the opinions of travelers and foodies from all over the world. Esthela's machaca con huevo (dried meat with eggs) was distinguished among 4,000 nominations in 150 cities.


Esthela in her kitchen comal

The only ingredient used to season this—the best breakfast dish on earth—is grain salt, and it's paired with simple, well-seasoned refried beans and tortillas made by hand in her household's .


Machaca with eggs and beans, a.k.a "the best breakfast in the world" telenovela,

Doña Esthela arrived to Valle de Guadalupe in 2010. When she left Sinaloa, she just took one phone number with her: someone that helped her find a job doing laundry and ironing clothes. However, her ways in the kitchen soon stood out. First she was in charge of a burrito stand, then she worked as a catering manager for a called Cuando me enamoro. Finally, she founded her own restaurant, a place that is now famous on both sides of the border.


Borrego tatemado taco, served with a spoonfull of consommé borrego tatemado

The that she puts in the oven at dawn every day is usually ready by breakfast time. The ideal way to eat it is in tacos over a hot tortilla, with some beans and a spoonful of consommé made out of the same lamb. It's a secret recipe, but it's known that Esthela uses at least five chilies to prepare this national treasure.


Corn gorditas

Homemade bread

Let's talk for a minute about the homemade ingredients. On one side, we have the cheese, which is prepared every day with milk from cows that graze around 10 yards away from the restaurant. The homemade fresh cheese is served as an appetizer and it's usually gone in minutes. Her Sinaloa-style bread is baked every morning.

The oven is Esthela's best friend. She uses it to grill the chilies used in her magnificent salsas, to bake the bread, and to simmer the lamb. In the future we'll probably see a commemorative plaque placed in this oven from a thankful nation.


Esthela and her husband next to the clay oven

La Cocina de Dona Esthella

Any of her restaurant's patrons can be considered lucky if they get a sight of Esthela, since she's never in the same place for longer than a second, and always organizing and adding the last garnishes to her dishes. One thing is certain: she'll always have a smile on her face, because, as she notes, the secret ingredients to the best breakfast dish in the world are her family and her love for cooking. This is the same love that we receive when we eat up the last beans of her incredible dishes.

This story originally appeared on MUNCHIES MX in September 2016.