When Fernando Espejel came to Pittsburgh from Mexico City a decade ago, he worked construction to pay the bills. But what he really wanted to do was build his own restaurant.
"I've cooked all my life," he explains. "My grandfather owned a restaurant in Mexico City and I spent a lot of time there in the kitchen, peeling tomatoes, helping out."
He still dreams of his place, "a nice little joint." But on this Friday afternoon he's happy cooking in a small black trailer called the Brassero Grill, on the corner of Penn Avenue and 14th Street, by the firehouse in the Strip District.
"Even when I open up my own place, I intend to continue running this trailer," says Espejel, who also caters. "It's a great way to get people in a lot of different areas trying your food."
The cuisine is simple Mexican fare — charcoal-grilled steak, chicken and chorizo burritos and tacos. He makes his own guacamole and salsas daily, from scratch, including a slightly spicy chipotle and salsa verde. He also offers daily vegetarian options.
The Brassero Grill has been open for about five months, cooking during the day on Penn Avenue and relocating to outside of nightclubs on weekend nights. (Shadow Lounge, in East Liberty, is a popular spot.) Diners can track the truck's locations at www.brasserogrill.jimdo.com
"So far, the people have loved the food and have loved what we're doing," says Espejel. "I love food and to be able to make good, healthy Mexican food has been awesome."