Word of Mouth: UAA’s new food truck scene boasts Texas-style barbecue and Filipino favorites

When we list places with great food truck scenes, we think East Los Angeles, Portland and New York.

Enter: University of Alaska Anchorage, the newest addition to the list.

Starting this fall, Seawolf Dining introduced the “Eat Fleet”— a bevy of food trucks now available as dining options Monday-Thursday from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. in the Cuddy Quad.

The opportunity to bring the fleet to campus came about due to the closure of Cuddy Hall’s marketplace, Seawolf Dining’s marketing manager Kari Sellars said.

Jeepney features plate-lunch deals, including this plate with poke, pansit and lechon (roasted pig). Photo courtesy of Jeepney’s Instagram.

“In order to compensate for the lack of dining available at Cuddy Marketplace and lack of food options, we thought it was a great opportunity to explore how food trucks will do on campus. Because food trucks are trendy, fun and often offer a delicious dining experience, we wanted to check into that to see how it plays out on campus and how students receive it,” Sellars said.

The food trucks that have appeared in the Quad since the fall semester started are Jeepney by Adobo Grill, Waffles and Whatnot and Smokehouse Grill.

Yeti Dogs and other food trucks are in the process of joining the fleet, Sellars said.

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There is no set schedule available, but Seawolf Dining consistently posts the food truck schedule to Facebook and Instagram.

Three weeks into the semester, students have been enamored with the new on-campus dining option.

Freshman John Rick Nobleza’s first on-campus food truck experience came from Smokehouse Grill, an Anchorage-based food truck delivering “Texas-style BBQ,” according to their Facebook page. After grabbing a brisket sandwich, Nobleza said he would “for sure” return to Smokehouse Grill in the future, as well as try other food trucks.

UAA faculty have enjoyed the Eat Fleet as well.

Jennifer Spencer, an academic adviser for the College of Health, has been an avid fan of food trucks on campus during events such as Campus Kickoff.

“They’ve done food trucks for events, so I’ve had food [from the trucks] then,” Spencer said. “I think [having food trucks on campus is] pretty cool to have different options to eat every day. I just wish they were also here on Fridays.”

My personal favorite food truck to appear on campus thus far is Jeepney by Adobo Grill — a food truck that markets themselves as a “Filipino Fusion” joint.

Starting as a pop-up for their main restaurant, Adobo Grill, in 2014 at Anchorage’s Weekend Market, Jeepney was born in 2017 and has since been a family-run operation, owner Donna Manalo said.

Along with Smokehouse Grill, Jeepney consistently appears at various events across the state like Mount Marathon and the Bear Paw Festival.

Jeepney keeps its fanbase excited for more by consistently switching up their menu.

“We first wanted to sell fusion items different from most Filipino restaurants. The first item was the sisig [a traditional Filipino minced meat] burrito and it’s still one of our most popular items,” Manalo said. “Soon after, we came up with the nachos, fries and adobo bowls. Then we started doing [lunch] plates since people wanted lunch plates.”

The opportunity came about for Jeepney to consistently appear on campus when Seawolf Dining first invited them to last year’s Campus Kickoff. Since then, Seawolf Dining kept in contact with Jeepney, which led them to become a part of this fall’s Eat Fleet.

Since the first week of the semester, business on campus has been great, but different from their standard customers, according to Manalo.

“It’s a bit different. We try to have some cheaper items [for college students] like weekly specials, $10 lunch plates and $5 items,” Manalo said. “A lot of students always ask when we’re going to be back again.”

The partnership between Seawolf Dining and the fleet has been a fruitful one for both sides, with the trucks enjoying business from new clientele and Seawolf Dining not hearing anything but positive feedback, Sellars said.

Smokehouse Grill attracted a crowd in front of the Cuddy Hall in early September. Photo by Joey Carreon.

“We’re going to continue with the same plan. We’ve opened up some seating right there at the [Cuddy] Quad — we wanted a place where people could run and grab their food and come back to have a nice workplace to sit and eat at, as opposed to sitting on the lawn or on the benches outside,” Sellars said.

While schedules for which trucks will appear on which days can be found on Seawolf Dining’s social media pages, each food truck has its own menus that can be viewed online through Yelp or their respective websites.