Campus Eats: The Colombian Empanada Cart

6 mins read

Picture this: it’s noon. You just got out of a three-hour lecture and have 15 minutes before your next class. You haven’t eaten since breakfast; your stomach won’t stop grumbling and you need something warm and filling to survive the rest of your day. And, because you’re a college student, you have $20 to your name. We’ve all been there. Thankfully, Queens College is looking out for us with plenty of new budget-friendly food options on campus! If you’re looking for something quick, delicious, and filling, head to the Colombian Empanada Cart just off the Quad between Kiely Hall and Frese Hall. 

When walking by Kiely towards the library, it’s impossible to miss the huge Colombian flag waving from the roof of the food truck parked right by the Quad-side exit of Kiely. It’s even harder to ignore the delicious smell wafting from the Colombian Empanada Cart. You may have noticed the line of students stretching from both carts and wondered if they’re worth trying. As an empanada enthusiast, I had to give the Colombian Empanada Cart a try. Here’s the rundown.

The Colombian Empanada Cart is on campus every day from 6 am – 7 pm. Of course, they serve empanadas (chicken, beef, and cheese) but they also have a variety of other dishes. The truck offers ham sandwiches, chicken or pork shish kebobs, Colombian burgers, Philly cheesesteaks, arepas, and more. The dishes range from $3 to $10, with the Colombian burger being the most expensive option at $10. There’s a drink menu as well, with fruit juices and coffee to choose from. The drinks are on the pricier side, ranging from $5 for juice and $2 for coffee. They accept cash, card, and Zelle payments.

Because of their namesake, the empanadas were the first thing I tried. Roderigo, the cook serving up everything, said his favorite menu item was the chicken empanadas, so of course I had to get one. I ordered a beef empanada as well to diversify my lunch. I was pleased to see what my $6 had gotten me, as the empanadas were large and generously filled with meat and potatoes. The fried outside was crispy and flaky without being overly greasy, complimenting the soft, flavorful inside. Both empanadas were very tasty, although, like Roderigo, I preferred the chicken slightly more. That being said, I would order the beef again, like many of the students I spoke to that visit the truck exclusively for their beef empanadas. Skipping the cheese filled empanada, I tried a cheese arepa instead. Calling this dish cheesy is an understatement, as the arepa was toasty with cheese oozing out from all sides. You definitely need two hands to eat it. While the cheese pull was satisfying and the portion was more than generous, I found the corn patty too sweet. 

By popular student recommendation, I sampled the pork shish kebob served with a piece of toasted bread. The grilled pork was juicy, and the seasoning will stain your fingers. The toast is a nice addition, making the shish kebab a perfect grab-and-go meal, and I understand why they are a student favorite. Another popular item is the ham, egg, and cheese sandwich. The Colombian Empanada Cart may be an unsuspecting spot for a breakfast sandwich, but the panini-style egg sandwich with cheese and grilled ham is a hit with the student body. While I didn’t try it myself, students described it as ‘a classic’ and their go-to order when looking for a meal on campus. 

The service was fast, as I waited no more than five minutes for my food, which was freshly cooked. Roderigo and Claudia, the cashier, work to move the line along quickly, which can get lengthy between 10am and Free Hour. The efficiency and reliability are some of the many reasons students keep coming back to this food cart. More than that, the inviting atmosphere Roderigo and Claudia have created through their food and spirit leaves customers wanting more. 

When asking students why they keep returning to the Colombian Empanada Cart, many commended the delicious food, quick service, and reliability of the business. The most meaningful reason was about the people, Roderigo and Claudia. For three years they have served Queens College and are excited to be back on campus. Their kindness and dedication to the student body are reason enough to go see them at the Colombian Empanada Cart.

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