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Julio Mota, owner of the Salsa Brava food truck is shown serving one of his specials: the surf and turf burrito. (Photo by Reilly Dixon)

Latin flavors at Salsa Brava

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As spring returns warm weather to the village, both local residents and visitors may be enticed by a relatively new food option making its way around downtown Yellow Springs

Salsa Brava, a Mexican/Caribbean fusion food truck that opened last summer, has been an increasingly frequent presence downtown since the beginning of the year, setting up outside Mills Park Hotel and Trail Town Brewing in recent weeks.

The food truck is helmed by Julio Mota, who spoke with the News last week about his journey from being a seasoned chef to a proud food truck owner.

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“I’ve been working in the kitchen for a long time, and I wanted to have my own business,” Mota said. “I told my two kids to do whatever they like to do. If this is what they want, follow their dreams. You have to try — there’s nothing wrong if you fail.”

Before launching the food truck, Mota honed his skills as the head chef at Mills Park Hotel, drawing inspiration from his Mexican roots and the diverse culinary landscape of the United States.

“I was inspired to share the food we eat in Mexico and places I have lived around this country,” Mota said. “Also, my wife is from Costa Rica, so there is a bit of a different Caribbean style. It’s not too crazy, but different from anywhere else.”

Salsa Brava’s menu reflects this rich tapestry of flavors, with such signature dishes as the surf and turf burrito, with steak and shrimp, and the Cuban sandwich, with ham and Swiss cheese, being the most popular, according to Mota. Other menu items include empanadas, veggie wraps and tres leches cake.

Beyond crafting mouthwatering meals, Mota said he is committed to supporting local food producers.

“I visited the farmers market in Yellow Springs, where people buy nice fresh vegetables,” he said. “We will continue to do that.”

In keeping with this ethos, Salsa Brava celebrated Earth Day last weekend with a dish highlighting the bounty of local ingredients: a Costa Rican dish, enyucado — a yuca (cassava) cake stuffed with ground beef, carrots and onions.

“We’re trying to share something different,” Mota said.

Mota’s culinary journey is also one of collaboration and camaraderie, he said, as he has collaborated in the past with culinary entertainment mainstay Chef Nikki, known for her work with celebrities like Dave Chappelle.

Looking to the future, Mota said he dreams of expanding his culinary empire while staying true to his roots.

“I have some friends, and they were telling me I should buy another food truck and go to different places,” he said with a smile. “But for the future, I’m thinking about having an actual restaurant and continuing to have the food truck to go to cool places to share the food with other people.”

Search “Salsa Brava” on Facebook to be notified when the food truck is in the village — or wait for the aromas of Mexican and Costa Rican cuisine to lure you downtown.


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