This time it’s just a short drive from the taste of Puerto Rico, as Halley Morera has been serving up authentic cuisine from the Caribbean island in a food truck in Bingen since the beginning of the year.
This business is the result of Moreira’s passion for cooking, pride in her heritage and love for her family.
If the strong saltiness and spiciness of the truck didn’t make her proud of her Puerto Rican background, the company’s name certainly did. Boricua en la Luna, literally “Puerto Rican on the Moon,” is an ode to the popular national anthem of the island of the same name, expressing her joy in sharing her culture.
Moreira was born in San Juan and grew up just south of the capital of Caguas Island. Since she was a child, Moreira found joy in helping her grandmother in the kitchen and exploring different flavors. “Since childhood, I liked very strong flavors,” she said. “I was like a four-year-old eating blue cheese with my grandpa…all the things you think a four-year-old wouldn’t eat.”
She started doing real experiments in the kitchen as a teenager, a hobby that turned into a passion.
She moved to the canyon 10 years ago and in the back of her mind she was coming up with an idea for a restaurant in the area. So finding the food truck was a serendipitous moment for her.
In January of this year, Erik and Jessie Stenberg, owners of the community-loved Huck Truck, put their food truck up for sale. When Moreira saw the list on Facebook, she thought of something about it, so she shared it on her personal page.
“People just started going crazy and they were like, ‘Oh my God, this is for you. That’s it,'” she recalls.
That moment decided her fate. Before she knew it, she was filing papers for a business license, saving money for a truck, and preparing a menu — jobs she said she couldn’t do without the support of her family, including her father, Jose. A helpful business partner.
When preparing the menu, for example, Moreira admits she was a little too modest, starting with simple dishes she knew would please customers, such as pollo a la plancha — marinated chicken breasts that are grilled and served with rice and beans.
“I think I’ve been very hard on myself, but I feel like we’re our own worst critics,” she said.
Her father, who lives in Puerto Rico, started pushing her outside her comfort zone, encouraging her to start making skirt steaks, churrasco and Chicharrones De Pollo, fried chicken, which she says are now truck hits.
She says she has her hands full every day, from prepping and cooking for her doorless restaurant to cooking for the catering side, so she’s happy to have help from her mother, Carla, and sister, Isabella. Her 8-year-old son, Sebastian, also helps deliver wine to customers from time to time.
“I’m so grateful to have family and a lot of support because I didn’t know I could do all this on my own,” she said.
In the future, she hopes to expand her business, but for now she’s focused on creating delicious food.
“It’s very difficult, but very rewarding,” she said.
Boricua en la Luna is located at 415 W Steuben St. in Bingen. They are open Monday-Friday 11am-2pm and are now accepting catering and delivery orders.