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October 3, 2016   Columns Articles | Inside UGA | Mobile menu: UGA’s first food truck, Taqueria…
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Students waiting to order and pick up food at Taqueria 1785 the Official Food Truck of UGA. Photo by Chad Osburn

Mobile menu: UGA’s first food truck, Taqueria 1785, rolls out dishes

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Mix one part red truck with a griddle with one part creative Mexican-inspired menu, and you have the recipe for Taqueria 1785, UGA's official food truck.

Not only does this addition to UGA Food Services allow them to serve more people, it also allows them to reach more areas of campus.

"There are pockets of campus that are ‘food deserts' where there are not dining options in the immediate vicinity," said Bryan Varin, interim director of food services. "There may be dining options a short walk away, but, in that particular area, there may not be a lot going on, and so food trucks are really good for us. We're able to feed people in those areas very conveniently without them having to walk too far to get to a dining commons or to a retail location."

So far, locations have included Herty Drive, Cedar Street near the biological sciences building and the Zell B. Miller Learning Center. The quickest way to find out where Taqueria 1785 will be each weekday is to follow its social media accounts—@Taqueria1785. The truck also can be hired for special events on campus.

Food services started working with Webb Foodservice Design to review the department's offerings about 18 months ago. The idea of a food truck came up in those conversations, and food services began talking to students about it. Specifically, they partnered with the Student Government Association to help decide the truck's concept with an informal survey. Different types of cuisine were ranked, and tacos were the clear winner.

Executive Chef Jorge Noriega designed the menu, which includes a variety of items from pork cecina tacos to hearts of palm barbacoa tacos to funnel cake fries with Mexican hot chocolate dip and/or dulce de leche dip. Noriega spent the last 12 years living in California, admittedly eating at many taco trucks. That, blended with his knowledge of Mexican culture and visits to Mexico City, inspired the flavor profile.

"Everything came together," he said. "We did go for authentic flavors."

And those flavors resonate with customers. Noriega has his favorite dish—the roasted cauliflower quesadilla, one of two vegetarian options—and added that customers are loving the chicken tinga quesadilla.

The reaction in general has been overwhelmingly positive, according to Varin. It is open to the public and accepts Paw Points and Bulldog Bucks.

"The core of our mission is to further the educational mission of the university. And we believe very strongly that we do that through feeding people," Varin said. "You've got to fuel people for them to be able to perform academically and on the job, too. The truck ties right into that. It's a new mode of service for us, but when you think about it, it's really not a lot different than our retail locations."

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