Oklahoma State University (OSU) debuted its brand-new Chophouse Taqueria food truck with a grand opening Friday, Jan. 15.
Featuring the OSU Dining Department’s take on Mexican-barbecue fusion with Oklahoma twists, the truck’s menu is made up of three main sections. "Bowl-Ritos" are open-faced burrito bowls topped with smoked brisket, pulled pork or spicy chicken tinga while the "Top Shelf Tacos" are built on corn tortillas and filled with Oklahoma classics like chicken fried steak and topped with gourmet sauces and toppings. For lighter fare, the menu has a "Soup, Salad and More" section featuring an entree barbecue chicken cobb salad, tortilla soup and a loaded baked potato topped with turkey chili that is both indulgent and still meets the campus's "Choose Orange" qualifications for a healthy menu item.
The most popular item so far has been the chicken tinga taco, known as the “Kickin’ Chicken,” which incorporates a corn tortilla, spicy chicken tinga, avocado tomatilla salsa and a chipotle cream topped with signature toppings concoction such as “The Stuff” (cabbage, cilantro, onions, radish, pickled habanero onions and lime).
At the grand opening, some 300 sample-size portions of various menu items were distributed before lunch service kicked off at noon. The truck then did about a hundred transactions to a steady line of customers before closing down at 1:30.
“While we were distributing our samples, we kept being asked when we would open the full menu for purchase—people couldn’t wait to get more!” says Nic Johnson, marketing coordinator for University Dining Services.
The event was attended by some of the school’s most senior administrators, including President Burns Hargis and “First Cowgirl” Ann Hargis, VP of Administration & Finance Joe Weaver, VP of Student Affairs Dr. Lee Bird and Director of the Student Union/Assistant VP of Student Affairs Mitch Kilcrease.
Also on hand, of course, were Director of Dining Services Terry Baker and Executive Chef Philip Yates.
"The entire concept represents months of hard work to get off the ground, from the unbelievable kitchen and the culinary staff inside the truck, to the technology, the branding—truly a team effort," says Baker. "Food trucks are very much on trend right now and our students and employees were asking for a dining option for some of the more remote areas of campus. It made perfect sense and we're excited to finally share it with university and community!"
The truck serves as a partnership. It provides lunch each day to the nearly 1,500 employees of the facilities management department who are located on a section of campus with no easy access to other dining facilities. Then at dinnertime, it sets up shop outside of the Express It! c-store, which is centrally located to many of the residence halls, apartments and the fitness center.
Operating hours currently are 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. for lunch and 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. for dinner. Chophouse Taqueria is also expected to be available for special events, game days and other similar occasions.
Contact Mike Buzalka at [email protected]