West Union offers a variety of options for Duke students of different heritages—but not for the Latin American community.

None of the 13 vendors in the recently re-opened West Union or any of the now six food trucks are currently dedicated to Latin American or Mexican cuisine. And since Tijuana Flats—a Tex-Mex restaurant on Ninth Street—shut down in August and dropped out of the Merchants-on-Point program, none of the 14 MOP vendors are either.

“Food is a great part of our culture, but our options are extremely limited here on campus," said junior Samantha Garza, co-president of Mi Gente. "I don’t want to miss this aspect of my culture during my college career."

West Union features eateries spanning cultures from Italian to Indian, but it lacks a permanent Latin American food vendor. Although Chef's Kitchen, a pop-up restaurant on the second floor, does serve Mexican food, the station is only open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekdays. All other West Union vendors are open seven days a week for at least nine hours.

Garza expressed dissatisfaction with the pop-up vendor's limited offerings.

“The Latinx community is hardly represented in West Union," Garza said. "We have no representation of either breakfast or dinner, and the pop-up vendor serves only tacos, burritos and bowls—the most generic Mexican food available.”

Latinx students have also been frustrated by West Union's policy that prevents groups from bringing in food from other caterers. Because events in the building can only be catered by inside vendors, the Latinx community is unable to have Latin American food at its events. In addition, it cannot support local vendors when hosting events in the building.

Junior Jorge Arredondo, a member of Mi Gente, said that not including food from local Latin American vendors goes against Duke's goal to have a diverse range of food offerings in West Union.

“If West Union is meant to represent Durham as it claims it is, it does so inaccurately," Arredondo said. "There is a huge Latinx population within Durham, and while vendors like Farmstead bring in local food from the community, there are no Latin American vendors to be able to support Durham Latinx food providers in a similar way.”

Robert Coffey, director of dining services, noted that Latin American cuisine is available on campus at Devil's Krafthouse and the pop-up restaurant in Chef's Kitchen.

“Devil's Krafthouse has incorporated many daily Latin American menu items and is rolling out some new additional items over the coming weeks," he wrote in an email. "The pop-up venue has gotten very positive reviews and will remain a more consistent rotation in the mix.”

Options on the Devil's Krafthouse menu that have a Latin American or Mexican influence include nachos, tortilla chips and salsa, quesadillas and a black bean soup. 

Rick Johnson, associate associate vice president of student affairs for Housing, Dining and Residence Life, noted that other solutions are in the works.

“Duke Dining is currently working with an on-campus vendor to provide another venue that features Latin American cuisine," Johnson said.

Brian Taylor, Trinity '16 and DUSDAC chair, expressed interest in bringing a Latin American vendor to campus.

During a DUSDAC meeting Thursday, members brought up the fact that Latin American groups struggle to host events in West Union, and the group considered options to remedy the problem.

Guasaca Arepa and Salsa Grill, a popular South American restaurant on Erwin Road, was suggested as a vendor that could fill the void. This option was also discussed in a meeting Sept. 16. Guasaca's food is inspired by Venezuelan cuisine and avoids processed ingredients. It serves a variety of chicken, beef and steak arepas, a corn pancake that can be sweetened or unsweetened.