Where do Tacos al Pastor come from?

The Tacos al Pastor may have become the dish that par excellence identifies us as Chilangos, but where does it come from?

3 min read

Where do Tacos al Pastor come from?
Where do Tacos al Pastor come from?

This story originally appeared on Unknown Mexico

Editor’s note: In the “Negocios Icónicos” series from our sister site México Desconocido, we’ll be reviewing the history of products, companies and brands that made history every week.


Over time, Tacos al Pastor have become an identity and a fundamental part of our gastronomy. However, did you know that its origin goes back to a very distant place? Find out more about the surprising history of these delicacies!

Photo: Citlalli Hernández via Mexico Unknown

The origin of Tacos al Pastor

There are different versions of the origin of this dish. However, what is most accepted is that which indicates that the recipe comes from the East. Accordingly, those responsible were two men of Turkish origin: Iskender Efendi and his grandfather.

They likely fled the violence and wars that broke out in the 19th century and culminated in the fall of the Ottoman Turkish Empire. Because of this, like thousands of other people, they made a long journey from the east to different parts of the world. Some went to Colombia, Germany and, of course, Mexico – including Iskender and his grandfather.

In fact, around 1000 Turks came to our country at the end of the century mentioned, although many decided to emigrate to the United States. However, Iskender Efendi and his grandfather settled down Puebla and founded a business of “Shawarmas“, A peculiar dish of Israeli origin that was adopted by the Arabs (this was made from Arab bread and roast served in pita).

Time passed and the dish became a sensation, but it also underwent inevitable and happy changes. Among them we have that the original meat (which was lamb) was replaced with pork. In the meantime, the Arabic bread was exchanged for our delicious corn tortilla and finally some spices were added.


On the other hand, and according to the historian Jeffrey pitcherThere were already several kebab restaurants in Mexico by the 30s, and by the 60s, the migrant children themselves began to transform this dish to create the delicious Al Pastor tacos that identify us so much now and which are also in recognized this year as the best dish in the world.

As a good Mexican who already knows where these delicacies come from, can you imagine a world without tacos al pastor?

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