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SDM’s Guide To Food + Drink: Mujer Divina


Get the pocket burrito filled with machaca. She toasts both sides. Grab a cafe de olla. It’s simmered for three hours until fuerte, marinated overnight in cinnamon sticks and piloncillo (a raw Mexican sugar with hints of caramel and endorphins).

Mujer Divina is named after a very famous song, written years ago by Augustin Lara but popularized by Mexico’s famed Natalia Lafourcade. It’s an ode to extraordinary women. And it’s also the name of a beloved San Diego burrito shop.

Chef-owner Priscilla Curiel was born in Tijuana, raised in her parents’ restaurants on both sides of the border. She started dismantling onions at coloring-book age. She launched her own taco shop, Tuetano Taqueria, often cooking with her young daughter by her side when childcare was unavailable. Her bone marrow tacos are a citywide rave.

She’s gotten to this point with the help of many mujeres (and her father, her cooking mentor). “‘Mujer Divina’ is one of my favorite songs, which means ‘divine woman,’ so this is a representation of all our mothers and grandmothers and ancestors who cooked for us,” she says.

Mujer Divina serves, mostly, burritos and coffee. The burritos de hielera are a tradition of northern Mexican families. Hielera means “cooler” in Spanish, as in—the cooler you take with you on road trips, to work, wherever it’s felt snacks will be needed or simply desired. It’s like a far more delicious and loved energy bar. 

“My mom would pack these whenever we would get in the car to cross the border,” she says. “The idea is to take people back into a memory.”

Machaca is a staple of baja norte. Beef is pounded thin and dried in the sun until nearly cooked. It’s then chopped, shredded, almost pulverized and stored, to be reconstituted later in the juices of sauteed tomatoes, onions, jalapeños. Because excess moisture is gone, the beef flavor is intensified, richer, more delicious (kinda like dry-aging a steak).

As for the cafe de olla… there are easier ways to make the classic Mexican coffee drink. Cheat ways. Time-saving adaptations. But adaptations tend to lose that tiny, discernible essence that separates good from much-better-than-good. So she simmers and simmers and waits.

“I’ve had people write to me, ‘Those burritos brought me memories of my nana, who passed way last year,’” she says. “I had a guy cry and say, This brought me to tears to taste a piece of Mexico in this burrito.’”

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