Adriana Morales has always loved to cook. Growing up in Colombia, Morales’ mother encouraged her to cook every day. She learned to make Colombian food the traditional way, from scratch and with fresh ingredients.
It was Morales’ dream to turn her hobby into a business. For the last few months, she’s been living that dream cooking inside a food truck on North Aspen Street called Hot Spot.
Morales and her husband, Jonathan Miller, found the truck for sale on the internet and started the slow process of getting it up and running.
Hot Spot’s menu includes some familiar Mexican items. However, the real star is the Colombian food, especially the empanadas.
“A lot of people don’t know Colombian food,” Miller said. “We thought it’d bring folks in if two were together.”
The combination brought in Sherman Kee, of Shelby, Friday afternoon. He dropped by Hot Spot for the first time after work. Kee lived in San Diego for 30 years and said that it’s hard to find Mexican and Colombian food that’s like what he’d grown accustomed to while living in California.
The couple stressed that there is a key difference between Colombian and Mexican cuisine.
“A lot of people think that all Hispanic food is spicy, but no, not necessarily,” Miller said. “Colombian food is more mild.”
Miller added that the empanadas are the best ones around. Empanadas are hand-held pies that can contain meat, corn or potatoes, or a combination of ingredients. Its name comes from the Spanish verb empanar, which translates to enbreaded or wrapped in bread. They’re Morales’ favorite thing to cook. The wrappers are made from scratch everyday with help from her sister, Marina. They start with cornmeal to make a dough that’s then flattened using a hand-cranked machine. Hot Spot offers beef, chicken, and chicken and rice-filled options.
Hot Spot’s menu also includes familiar items like burgers, fried chicken and hot dogs. But those items aren’t quite like the American versions. Morales hand pats ingredients like onions, garlic and spices into hamburger meat then marinades it. The finished burger includes pineapple sauce, as do the hotdogs. As for the fried chicken, Morales wouldn’t divulge her secret recipe of spices.
The common thread among all Hot Spot menu items is Morales’ commitment to creating handmade food using fresh ingredients.
Hot Spot is located at 1837 N. Aspen Street. It’s open 2-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday.