The Truth About French Tacos

Talk about crossing cultures — the French taco combines a dizzying array of ingredient influences in its overstuffed tortilla casing. Eater Montreal helps break it down: What happens when you cross kebab-like fillings, European cheeses, and globally-inspired sauces with Belgian-born French fries, Mexican tortillas, and the all-American invention of the sandwich grill (via Business Insider)? You get the calorie-bomb-tastic handheld melting pot that is the French taco. 

It's not for the faint of heart, but it is taking over entire regions of the world as a fast-food phenomenon.

The history of French tacos

Most agree that French tacos arrived on the scene via a kebab shop around Lyon, France, in the mid-2000s, as an attempt to meld the satisfying protein power of the kebab with a handy wrap format (via The Guardian). By 2007, O'Tacos opened as the first French tacos chain, adding its "original cheese sauce" to the mix alongside halal meat options. 

At O'Tacos, the ordering process allows for on-trend customization: Choose a protein (chicken, minced meat, cordon bleu, merguez sausage, and falafel are a few on offer), add a sauce from a list of 12 ethnic-inspired options (think Algerian, Harissa, Chili Thai, and Curry), then pack on flavor with cheeses or toppings like caramelized onions. The overstuffed sacks are then griddled on a panini press to create their distinctive crisscross of blackened marks on the tortillas' exterior (via Vice).

French tacos are spreading worldwide

Vice notes that French tacos have become a legit "fast-food craze" in Morocco, where the 17-location Tacos de Lyon vies with brands like Planet Roll Tacos: Le Vrai Tacos Française and Tacos de France. Meanwhile, O'Tacos now counts nearly 250 locations in Western Europe and even as far as Réunion Island, off the east coast of Africa, and French tacos purveyors have cropped up in the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan

Eater Montreal notes that O'Tacos' first U.S. location, in Brooklyn, New York, proved unsuccessful, but French tacos have now migrated north, to the French-Canadian city of Montreal (fitting, right?). Here, as Eater Montreal reports, two restaurants, French Takos and Mont Tacos, are serving up meat- and sauce-laden tortillas with French fries stuffed inside. We can only expect the trend to continue: The Guardian reported last year that O'Tacos outpaces McDonald's in terms of growth in France, even leading to local imitators like TacoShake and Tacos Avenue. For a food that fuses such a mishmash of cultures, it's only appropriate they'd make their way worldwide — mais oui!