Is a taco a sandwich? Indiana judge issues a ruling after yearslong restaurant debate

An Indiana judge ended a yearslong debate between a restauranteur and the county commission that ultimately ruled, “tacos and burritos are Mexican-style sandwiches.”

Starting in 2019, Martin Quintana, the owner of Famous Taco, a Mexican-style restaurant that serves made-to-order burritos, tacos and other food items located about 125 miles north of Indianapolis, sought zoning approvals from the Fort Wayne Plan Commission. Quintana’s request was to upgrade the space from a single family designation to a limited commercial occupancy for his business, according to the court documents published by local news outlet WISH.

In order to be approved, he would have to agree to a written commitment that highlighted specific restrictions for his business. To be compliant, Quintana’s restaurant had to be a “sandwich bar-style” facility that sold “made-to-order” or “Subway-style” sandwiches. In addition, the commitment excluded fast food restaurant chains like Arby’s, McDonald's and Wendy’s, the court documents said.

“It kind of became an argument of... is a taco a sandwich or not. So, we thought it's easier to agree that it fits within the character and scope of what we had anticipated. And so we have an amendment,” Quintana’s representatives said in 2022, according to the court documents.

After years of legal proceedings, Judge Craig Bobay of the Allen Superior Court ruled on Monday that Famous Taco was eligible to open and operate its business under the terms of the original written commitment created in 2019. Bobay said that the restaurant was compliant according to the commitment, the court documents said.

“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,” Bobay’s decision said.

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The judge also said that other culturally authentic restaurants would have the opportunity to operate its business under the terms of the written commitment as well.

“The original written commitment would also permit a restaurant that serves made-to-order Greek gyros, Indian naan wraps, or Vietnamese banh mi if these restaurants complied with the other enumerated conditions,” the judge ruled.

USA TODAY reached out to both Famous Taco and the Fort Wayne Plan Commission attorneys for comment.

Ahjané Forbes is a reporter on the National Trending Team at USA TODAY. Ahjané covers breaking news, car recalls, crime, health, lottery and public policy stories. Email her at Follow her on Instagram, Threads and X (Twitter).

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Is a taco a sandwich? Indiana judge gives ruling in yearslong debate