Is the taco really a sandwich?

BY: 
Sofia Jones
 | May 21, 2024

Just when you thought you knew everything about a taco, a judge chimes in and blows our minds. The judge has ruled that the taco is not just a culinary treasure served in a tortilla. The taco is a sandwich. Yes, you heard right. Tacos, and their cousins, the burritos, have officially been declared sandwiches. This is especially good news for a particular entrepreneur in Fort Wayne, and his restaurant’s future customers. But it still has everyone asking: Is the taco really a sandwich?

The Legal Battle

In a surprising twist during a zoning dispute in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Judge Craig Bobay delivered a ruling that has culinary circles buzzing. Bobay declared that tacos and burritos are legally considered Mexican-style sandwiches. The case centered around a local shopping center where a taco restaurant faced opposition.

Starting in 2019, Martin Quintana, owner of Famous Taco — a Mexican-style restaurant located about 125 miles north of Indianapolis — sought zoning approvals from the Fort Wayne Plan Commission. Quintana’s request was to upgrade his space from a single-family designation to a limited commercial occupancy for his business. To be compliant, the restaurant had to fit the criteria of a “sandwich bar-style” facility that sold made-to-order or Subway-style sandwiches. Fast-food chains like Arby’s, McDonald’s, and Wendy’s were excluded.

Is the taco really a sandwich?

The debate arose: is the taco really a sandwich? Quintana’s representatives argued that it fit within the character and scope of what they had anticipated. After years of legal proceedings, Judge Bobay ruled that Famous Taco was eligible to operate under the terms of the original written commitment created in 2019. 

His decision stated, “The Court agrees with Quintana that tacos and burritos are Mexican-style sandwiches, and the original written agreement does not restrict potential restaurants to only American cuisine-styled sandwiches.”

However, not everyone is convinced that this new ruliing has settled the debate.

“This ruling comes despite a different one back in 2006 in Massachusetts finding that tacos are not sandwiches …” an ABC Philadelphia news report explains.

Culinary Implications

But what does this ruling mean for the culinary world? Beyond the legal victory for Famous Taco, it opens the door for other culturally authentic restaurants.

According to Judge Bobay, the original written commitment would also permit restaurants serving made-to-order Greek gyros, Indian naan wraps, or Vietnamese banh mi, as long as they complied with other enumerated conditions.

Reactions and Controversy

Naturally, reactions have been mixed. Some celebrate the broader definition of sandwiches, while others argue that tacos and burritos have distinct cultural origins. Food enthusiasts and legal scholars alike are dissecting the ruling, questioning its implications for menus, culinary traditions, and even the very essence of what constitutes a sandwich.

Quintana told the Associated Press and other media, last Thursday, that he was relieved the legal fight is over, and he is looking forward to opening The Famous Taco restaurant in Fort Wayne, which is Indiana’s second-most populous city with about 270,000 residents.

“I’m glad this thing is over. We are happy. When you have a decision like this the only thing you can be is happy. We’re excited,” he told The Associated Press.

However, the sandwich debate seems to continue online.

” … a taco is a sandwich if you regard a hot dog as a sandwich,” Phillip Remaker comments on Quora. “As with a lot of these kinds of arguments, it all comes down to your definitions.”

Wait, is a hot dog not a sandwich?


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