Raised in Texas, Val Cantu grew up hunting with his brother and father, who owned a Mexican restaurant that was a second home to Cantu. He got his first professional gig at Uchi in Austin and went on to stage at Benu and Saison in San Francisco, moving to the city permanently to work at Sons & Daughters. There, Cantu began thinking about fine dining as it pertained to Mexican food. With the seeds for Californios planted in his imagination, Cantu took off for Mexico City to stage at Enrique Olvera’s Pujol. Californios opened in January 2015. At 16 courses, it’s (likely) the only Mexican tasting menu in the country. Cantu earned a Michelin star and Californios was named one of Eater’s Best New Restaurants in America.