The Three Chilies food truck recently rolled out by Rutgers University Dining Services offers tacos with a variety of flavor traditions ranging from Korea, Vietnam and Latin America to vegan and barbecue. The mobile dining venue complements two other food trucks operating on the College Avenue and Cook campuses of New Jersey’s state university—the Knight Wagon and a Starbucks branded unit.
Three Chilies sets up on five rotating locations throughout campus and typically operates Monday through Friday. The menu has a diverse range of flavors with Korean, Vietnamese and South American influences. Currently, the menu is set with all items prepared fresh to order.
“All of the menu items are selling well, but the smoked carnitas tacos—smoked pork, Napa cabbage slaw, queso fresco, cilantro crema—and smoked brisket tacos—smoked brisket, caramelized onions, purple cabbage slaw, cheddar cheese, habanero garlic crema and pico de gallo—are the winners so far,” observes Nick Emanuel, director of operations for Rutgers Dining Services. “The truck smokes its meats [onboard] daily, which I think has something to do with [the popularity] as you can smell the smoke in the air while you wait in line,” he adds.
In addition to the exotically flavored tacos, the truck sells burritos and nachos. Students pay either $7.50 or a meal swipe. Each taco option includes three soft-shell tacos with nachos on the side. One meal swipe can purchase a taco or burrito option with a drink.
The idea for the Three Chilies menu came from research and observation of student food preferences, Emanuel says.
“In creating menus, I try to keep up with current trends and being a chef myself I try to include ingredients I like to work with,” he notes. “Whenever tacos are featured on a menu, they are always very popular and when we mentioned possibly opening a taco truck to the students, they were very supportive of it.”
The Three Chilies Truck is currently serving over 70 customers per hour and is out every weekday unless temperatures drop to around freezing or if it’s raining heavily, Emanuel says.
When it’s not serving students at its regular hours, Three Chilies is available as a mobile kitchen for catered events and can also be rented out, though for on campus events only, Emanuel adds.