Revolution Taco in Rittenhouse is selling tacos with global influences
Carolyn Nguyen is hoping to eventually open more storefronts for her shop, but she’s in no rush.
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When Carolyn Nguyen was growing up in Louisiana, she would pretend to be a chef at a high-end restaurant.
Instead of doing homework, she’d be watching the Food Network.
“My siblings and I would play make believe and we would be the owner of a restaurant,” said Nguyen, owner of Revolution Taco in Rittenhouse Square.
With dreams and aspirations of becoming a trained chef, Nguyen came to Philadelphia to go to culinary school at the Art Institute of Philadelphia. She pursued a degree in Culinary Arts.
“My parents didn't really want me to become a chef just because being a chef is kind of unpredictable,” said Nguyen.
Despite her parents’ reservations, Nguyen graduated from the Institute and bought a food truck. She called it ‘Street Food,’ and made and sold anything she wanted to.
“Our menu is very eclectic,” she said.
One item that consistently reeled in customers were the tacos.
Although not necessarily authentic, they were dependable and delicious. Their popularity made Nguyen create a business idea around them that offered a variety of her delicious and inexpensive hand-sized tacos.
She soon found a space to move into on Rittenhouse Square and the rest was history.
“I found this space on 20th and Walnut and decided to go for it,” she said.
Nguyen opened her storefront in 2015, with the hope of expanding to other locations.
“Business was doing very well, but then the pandemic hit,” she said.
Not realizing that her business could go down in a matter of weeks, Nguyen decided to close her restaurant and only offer take-out and delivery services.
“There wasn't anyone around, but I still kept the restaurant open because I wanted people to know that we were open, regardless of profit,” said Nguyen.
But now, as more people are getting their COVID-19 vaccine, and locals are coming out of quarantine, Nguyen is now opening her restaurant to 25%.
“We are also putting some tables and chairs outside for more seating,” she said.
As the eatery has seen their fair share of devastation and financial hardships, Nguyen is hoping to bring back more of her customers by continuing to provide innovative takes on tacos.
One creative recipe that people always come back for is her Korean beef tacos that are made with seasoned beef, Ssamjang aioli, pickled cucumber, sesame seeds and cilantro.
Soon, Nguyen will be adding another unique taco that is a nod to her southern roots.
“I want to make a crawfish taco that will have a lot of Cajun influences,” she said.
Her taco shop is also an example that Asian-American women can own a successful restaurant independently.
“I am 5 foot, when people see me they never really believe that I am an accomplished chef,” she said.
In spite of people’s assumptions about her, Nguyen is looking forward to opening more storefronts for Revolution Taco.
“We would love that, but we're not really in a rush,” she said.
In the meantime, check out her impressive assortment of tacos, burritos, and more.