Food truck brings authentic Puerto Rican dishes to Pittsburgh

Rising up, Felipe Crespo was usually all around parts with lots of Latin culture and variety. When the now 29-year-aged Crespo moved to Pittsburgh from Chicago, he was surprised to discover a deficiency of Puerto Rican cultural illustration.

Right after recognizing that he was not the only a person who felt detached, Crespo bought to perform bringing his family’s culture to the Metal City.

“It was evident that the city was missing Latinx diversity. I realized I couldn’t be the only just one emotion like this. I saw an prospect to open up a location that would convey fellow Latinx folks alongside one another,” Crespo reported.

The very first and only Puerto Rican food truck in Pittsburgh is a rapid results, as Secretos De Mis Abuelos — which interprets to “the insider secrets of my grandparents” — commenced functions this earlier March.

This tasty new piece of Pittsburgh would be all but a passing considered if not for Crespo.

Crespo, who is of Puerto Rican descent, lived in central Florida and then Chicago in advance of going to his Pittsburgh apartment in 2019 for a master’s method at Duquesne College. Unbeknownst to him when he moved in, the apartment was across the road from the area’s sole Puerto Rican barber shop. They took him in like relatives.

“I listened to Spanish songs coming from across the road,” Crespo stated. “When I walked in, I questioned, is there anywhere to get Puerto Rican food stuff. They informed me there wasn’t everywhere for miles. In that instant I experienced the plan of building the food stuff myself. My grandma taught me how to prepare dinner every thing — I knew how to cook dinner.”

Crespo’s grandparents moved to Florida from Puerto Rico. They taught him their recipes as he was escalating up, and he commenced generating individuals recipes for the persons at the barbershop. From there, factors took off.

“They questioned ‘what can you prepare dinner?’ and I said, properly what do you want? I manufactured them meals from my household,” Crespo explained. “I did not notify any individual, but they told their close friends and their good friends told additional buddies.”

Inevitably Felipe’s close friends at the barbershop assisted get his identify out there when he joined a Fb team referred to as “Latinos of Pittsburgh.” There, the enormous volume of notice his dishes attained encouraged Crespo to get his catering license. He then commenced accomplishing pop-ups at nearby breweries and bars, and at Pitt and Duquesne campuses.

“I saved up adequate funds to do other small occasions and finally I obtained this food truck with the aid and assistance of the local community,” Crespo mentioned.


Zachary Gibson | Tribune-Review

An authentic Puerto Rican dish ready by SDMA.


Felipe prepared to open up the food items truck in August 2020, but fate had other strategies. This prompted the Secretos team to creatively discover ways to convert this setback into an benefit.

“The country shut in March 2020 and that delayed all of our strategies by a calendar year. The staff and I took this time to master recipes and plotted accordingly, mainly because we knew when we opened up, we were being gonna strike the ground operating. Consequently, in the midst of the pandemic, we determined to open up so we can give the people some convenience all through these striving occasions,” Crespo mentioned.

Today, just off of Observed Mill Operate Boulevard, at 92 Crane Ave., a shiny blue food truck displaying a clever emblem of a grandmother whispering to her grandson as nicely as the Puerto Rican flag, hums to existence as its workers eagerly grind absent at their tasks in just. It operates weekdays from 12 to 2 p.m. and 4 to 7 p.m.

On the menu customers are absolutely sure to locate one thing they’ll love in an array of authentic Puerto Rican cultural classics like tripletas (sandwiches filled with three meats like steak, pork, and cubed ham, lettuce, tomato, and potato sticks) and mofongo (fried and mashed seasoned plantains). As nicely as modern day favorites like street tacos (a double corn tortilla with diced onions, cilantro, salsa, lime, and a preference of distinct meat or vegan solutions).

Crespo options to spread the secret of Secretos to a wider reach, as he appears to set his food stuff vans in the North Aspect and Monroeville places. He is on the lookout ahead to opening a Downtown storefront in the in close proximity to long run.

Till then, Secretos De Mis Abuelos will continue to provide their savory piece of residence and neighborhood to the Pittsburgh location with an emphasis on bringing persons alongside one another, as a way to honor Crespo’s grandparents and the relations he continue to has in Puerto Rico.

“Through flavorful foods and neighborhood outreach, I was capable to represent the indigenous Puerto Rican’s folks,” Crespo stated. “Puerto Rican culture just enjoys to infect persons, with the food items, with the songs, with the dancing and the artwork. This is a quit for all people to get a minor style of dwelling. That is what I attempt for. I convey people collectively, I nourish them, and I honor my grandparents all at once.”

Zachary Gibson is a Tribune-Evaluation personnel author. You can contact Zachary by e mail at [email protected] or through Twitter .

Allegheny | Editor’s Picks | Meals & Drink | Community stories | Pittsburgh

Barbara J. Miriam

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