Al pastor (from Spanish, “shepherd style”), also known as tacos al pastor, is a dish developed in Central Mexico that is based on shawarma spit-grilled meat brought by mainly Christian Lebanese immigrants to Mexico. Being derived from shawarma, it is also similar to the Turkish döner kebab and the Greek gyros. In contrast to döner kebab and shawarma however, tacos al pastor are pork based. In some places of northern Mexico, as in Baja California, this taco is called taco de adobada. A similar dish from Puebla with different spices is tacos árabes.
Lebanese immigration to Mexico started in the 19th and early 20th centuries. In 1892, the first Lebanese arrived in Mexico from Beirut in French ships to Mexican ports. At that time, Lebanon was not an independent nation; the territory was governed by the Ottoman Empire for more than 400 years, but the empire was collapsing, which influenced the migration of many people. In the 1960s, Mexican-born progeny of Lebanese immigrants began opening their own restaurants and morphing their heritage with Mexican cuisine.
Grilling a vertical spit of stacked meat slices and cutting it off as it cooks was developed in the 19th century in Ottoman Turkey. This is döner kebab, which is the origin of tacos al pastor, Middle Eastern shawarma, and Greek gyros.