The French Taco Has Made Landfall In The U.S.

The word "taco" doesn't really mean what you think it does.

In France, the term "taco" might not mean what you think it means. The so-called French taco is a concoction that doesn't look like a round handheld tortilla loaded with various meats or veggies—it's more akin to a quesadilla crossed a with shawarma wrap. It consists of a flour tortilla filled with meat, fries, condiments, and cheese sauce, then the entire thing is sealed shut and grilled to perfection.

French tacos are the most popular street food in France, and entire chain restaurants exist solely around the dish, like Le Tacos de Lyon and Chamas Tacos. But they're gaining popularity outside of France, with increasing availability in other European countries, and after popping up in the UK, they're now quietly showing up on menus in the United States.

Where to find French tacos

French tacos are so popular overseas that a French chain restaurant, O'Tacos, tried breaking into the massive U.S. fast food market in New York City all the way back in 2017, Entrepreneur reported in 2021. However, just 14 months after opening, the only American location of O'Tacos shuttered its doors. Entrepreneur posits that the flop could be due to the intense competition in the U.S. market, the particular quirks of America's fast food landscape, and the general challenges of scaling internationally.

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But that doesn't mean French tacos are completely nonexistent in the United States—you just have to know where to find them. The Los Angeles Times notes that one restaurant, The French Way, sells them in Los Angeles, where Mexican food reigns supreme. There, you select your choice of protein like ground beef, chicken, nuggets, or Impossible meat and pick sauces and additional fillings before the taco is grilled.

And you can now get French tacos in Seattle as well, where the small Canada-based restaurant chain Brick'N'Cheese has just opened a location. The brand is starting out with a ghost kitchen operation, which means there's no brick-and-mortar location and the food will only be available via delivery or pickup.

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With a handheld format, French tacos could easily become one of the next big concepts, because not only are they full of relatively simple and satisfying ingredients, but their form factor makes them portable and easy to customize. Coupled with a pick-and-choose ordering system like Chipotle's, French tacos might lend themselves well to U.S. franchising.

The only hurdle is getting people interested in something they've never tried before. They're called tacos, but since that term comes with a firm set of expectations here in the States, some consumer education would be necessary. If they're as good as they look, though, consumers would have no problem taking a chance on something new.

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