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Tacos Gone Thai?!

  • Brittney Snider
Posted on September 12, 2017
Around Philadelphia

If you're tracking down food trucks in Philadelphia, there's one in University City you cannot miss! You will notice either the vibrant painted truck design or the large crowd of students in front of it.

Between the Main building and the Bossone Research Center on Drexel's campus, you'll find a row of food trucks — one being Cucina Zapata. Cucina Zapata is popular for its Asian fusion dishes. It's Thai food in a taco!

Cucina Zapata menu

It is a favorite in the Freshman Admissions office, but what I truly enjoy is that the owner is a Drexel University alumnus.

Cucina Zapata owner, Robert Zapata, graduated from Drexel University in 2002 with a bachelor's degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management and a minor in Business. He chose Drexel because of the co-op program and the smaller class sizes.

"I come from culinary stock so I've always felt I would end up here. My grandparents owned a resort in the Philippines and a restaurant in Haddonfield, NJ. I grew up in kitchens and always saw myself in that environment."

Already knowing his way around a kitchen and armed with a Drexel education, Zapata felt Drexel's campus was the perfect location for his food truck. “I've always felt it was an honor to feed the students here. I was once a hungry student back in 1999-2002. One of our best sellers, the Chicken Katsu, was used as my final project for the Academic Bistro.”

The Academic Bistro serves as a classroom for Drexel students and a dining room open to campus. Students are able to use their Dragon Dollars to enjoy lunch in the Academic Bistro. Pop-up dinners and special events with local culinary favorites often happen in the Bistro. Learn more about the Academic Bistro.

In addition to the food being delicious, the Cucina Zapata employees truly seem to take interest in their customers. You will notice that they have memorized the orders of their customers, and often times they receive orders a day in advance. Yet still, loyal customers will wait during the lunch rush for their awesome burritos, Katsu, tacos, and Thai bubble teas.

"I feel that the relationships we form with our customers really helps us stand out. Most of our business comes from repeat customers and most of the time we already know what they want before they order."

One of my personal favorite menu items is the Cap'n Crunch Tilapia Burrito.  It's fresh, has the perfect mix of flavorful sauces and ingredients, and is very affordable. Customer tip – order it spicy for a little kick! 

Captain Crunch Burrito

"Our most popular item is our Cap'n Crunch tilapia burrito. It has become our Big Mac of sorts. It took on a life of its own. People now order it as a platter or tacos or on a salad."

Whether you are coming for a visit or making Drexel your home – give your taste buds a thrill and try Cucina Zapata! 

You can follow Cucina Zapata on Twitter @Cucina_Zapata.

Brittney is a self-proclaimed "frugalista fashionista" hailing from the first "Small Wonder." She lives for tax-free shopping, misses having her gas pumped for her in college, and bleeds green on any given Sunday.

Brittney Snider

Brittney Snider
Posted in Brittney Snider