By Claire Lindsey, Journalism Intern
The Puerto Rican population in Pittsburgh is growing, but authentic Boricua food options are scarce. Many people have never had the pleasure of enjoying a plate of authentic Puerto Rican cuisine. Luckily, one young man has packed this valuable cultural experience into one place: a big blue food truck.
Secretos De Mis Abuelos was started by Felipe Crespo, a Duquesne student from Chicago. The idea came to him in August of 2019 when he moved to Pittsburgh.
“When I found out there weren’t any Puerto Rican restaurants out here, but there was a large Puerto Rican population, I knew that we needed something to bring us together,” Crespo said. “I was like ‘Man, I’m pretty sure if I started cooking some food some people would like it.’ so, it was all by fate.”
The menu includes some of the island favorites including white rice and beans, arroz con gandules, mofongo, pork, chicken, steak, tripleta sandwich, tostones, maduros, yuca fries, and more. For desert, their tres leches cake is a favorite and, on select days, you can try Felipe’s take on tacos.
Crespo learned the art of cooking from his grandmother, and he has always been eager to share what she taught him. In 2019, he entered a barber shop near his home. Being that the business was Puerto Rican-ran, he asked them if they knew where he could find Puerto Rican food. When they told him that there were not any nearby options, he took matters into his own hands.
“I made them food the next weekend and they loved it,” Crespo said. “They told their friends who told their friends and they told me to join social media.”
In Crespo’s words, this is when his cooking “blew up”. One of the barbers was an admin of a Latino Facebook group. Once the public saw what Crespo could do, everyone wanted a plate.
Less than two years later, Secretos De Mis Abuelos was a fully functioning, mobile business!
They can be found in Beechview (Pittsburgh) at 92 Crane Avenue, Monday through Friday from 12-2 and 4-7. The truck usually travels to private events on Saturdays, but if they are not booked, they will be in their usual location from 12-4.
Crespo is grateful to his grandmother for teaching him about Puerto Rican cuisine, and all the preparation that goes into making the perfect flavors. He has transformed this gift into something that he is able to share with the community. He said his grandmother is proud of what he has accomplished.
“It makes me feel like what I’m doing is wholesome,” he said. “It makes me happy on the inside.”
Secretos De Mis Abuelos is a treat for all to enjoy. If you are craving a comforting, fulfilling Puerto Rican meal, pay Crespo and his team a visit. They will take great care of you.