MYNORTHWEST NEWS

Are tacos and burritos sandwiches? KIRO hosts say no, but a judge says yes

May 18, 2024, 5:00 PM | Updated: May 19, 2024, 10:57 am

Image: Tacos are displayed at a charity event in October 2017 in Culver City, California....

Tacos are displayed at a charity event in October 2017 in Culver City, California. (Photo: Charley Gallay, Getty Images for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation )

(Photo: Charley Gallay, Getty Images for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation )

An Indiana judge who declared that “tacos and burritos are Mexican-style sandwiches” has cleared the way for the opening of a new restaurant, delighting a restauranteur following a legal battle.

Martin Quintana, 53, has been trying for about three years to open his second The Famous Taco location in Fort Wayne, a city about 120 miles northeast of Indianapolis.

But the initial written commitment for the development at a plaza Quintana owns limits the business to “a sandwich bar-style restaurant whose primary business is to sell ‘made-to-order’ or ‘subway-style’ sandwiches.”

Quintana said the nearby Covington Creek Association contacted him to say that his The Famous Taco proposal “somehow ran afoul” to that commitment.

He sued the Fort Wayne Plan Commission in December 2022 after it denied his proposed amendment that would specifically allow his restaurant to offer made-to-order tacos, burritos and other Mexican-style food items, The Journal Gazette reported.

Allen Superior Court Judge Craig Bobay ruled Monday that the plan commission acted correctly when it denied Quintan’s proposed amendment. But the judge also found that his request was not needed and he found that the original commitment allows restaurants like the proposed The Famous Taco.

“The Court agrees with Quintana that tacos and burritos are Mexican-style sandwiches, and the original Written Commitment does not restrict potential restaurants to only American cuisine-style sandwiches,” Bobay wrote.

Quintana said Thursday he is relieved the legal fight is over, and he is looking forward to opening his second 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.

KIRO Newsradio hosts weigh in: ‘They’re tacos.’

Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin, hosts of “The Gee and Ursula Show,” and show producer Andrew Lanier all agreed that tacos aren’t sandwiches.

When asked by Lanier about the topic, Gee was blunt with his response.

“No. They’re not. They’re tacos and burritos. They’re not sandwiches,” Gee said.

“Why would even anyone even try to argue that a taco is a sandwich?” Ursula Reutin replied in agreement.

Lanier then spelled out specific parameters of what a sandwich is.

“For it to be a sandwich, there needs to be two pieces. There has to be two pieces of bread that can be separate or they can be connected as in a kaiser roll or a hot dog roll, something like that for a po’boy,” he said.

Fernando from Seattle texted in to “Gee and Ursula” and clarified further.

“No, a Mexican sandwich is called a torta,” Fernando said, according to Ursula.

Earlier Friday, “Seattle’s Morning News’ tackled the subject and agreed with the folks on “Gee and Ursula.”

“There’s no way I would call (a taco) as a sandwich,” KIRO Newsradio traffic reporter Chris Sullivan said on “Seattle’s Morning News” Friday.

Nick Creasia, a KIRO Newsradio board operator and show contributor, allowed for some exceptions but largely dismissed the idea.

“I do not stand for such things, Creasia said. “I suppose if you’re folding something and you’re putting in between two quesadillas, maybe, or two tortillas, perhaps? I don’t know, that sounds ridiculous if you ask me.”

Later Friday, Sullivan had some fun with the topic and suggested a new name for other products.

“Why don’t we change the word ‘sandwich?’ A sandwich should be what a sandwich is, an actual thing between two pieces of bread,” Sullivan said. “(How about we) call them ‘handhelds?’ Because that includes everything … If it’s a wrap or it’s a burrito or if it’s a taco, it’s a handheld.”

“Seattle’s Morning News” producer David Burbank agreed with Sullivan but went a slightly different way with his comments.

“It feels like every sandwich has its own name anyways. So, why don’t we just delete the word ‘sandwich?'” Burbank said. “You don’t say a ‘BLT sandwich.’ You just say a ‘BLT’ or you say a ‘sub.’ So … it seems like ‘sandwich’ is an arbitrary term anyway.”

“You shouldn’t be allowed to discriminate against somebody who makes something that is similar (to a sandwich),” Sullivan went on to say. “But I don’t think calling it something that it isn’t (works). Why can’t a burrito just be a burrito?”

“It’s a sandwich, that’s why. That’s what a judge in Indiana has ruled and so it shall be,” “Seattle’s Morning News” co-host Colleen O’Brien said, tongue in cheek, to end the show’s segment.

Contributing: The Associated Press

Steve Coogan is the lead editor of MyNorthwest. You can read more of his stories here. Follow Steve on X, formerly known as Twitter, here and email him here.

Listen to Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin weekday mornings from 9 a.m.- noon on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien weekday mornings from 5-9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Are tacos and burritos sandwiches? KIRO hosts say no, but a judge says yes