The hardest part about food truck meals are their fleeting nature. If you’re craving their food, you have to hope that the truck is available. Chef Matt Salgado, proprietor of The Displaced Chef food truck, took the bold step of opening a brick-and-mortar fixed location in Perrysburg last April, giving patrons the opportunity to pick up his authentic Cuban and Latin-style cuisine all the time.
It’s an unusual step for the Chef— the mobile life seems to suit Salgado, who has moved all over the country, refining his skills, working in a myriad of food hubs. But he always goes back to where he grew up and honed his affinity for Cuban cooking— South Florida. That was before he was displaced by love.
Chasing a girl led Salgado to NW Ohio six years ago. While the food truck was his plan, the fixed location restaurant came along with intervention from Mother Nature.
“After I got a taste of the Ohio winters, it became a natural progression. I knew I had to do something with the downtime,” Salgado said. “The first year I had the truck, I tried to work year-round, which wasn’t good. Pipes freeze.”
Saving his money during food truck boom times, Salgado expanded his operation in 2015, and it seems to be working out. “It’s been nice to have a place to come back to,” he admits of the shop. “We’re doing good.” Come the end of March, he’ll fire the food truck back up as well and head out in search of hungry customers.
Straight from Ybor City
The Displaced Chef’s transplanted nature is part of the secret to his success. “In Florida, everybody and their mother is doing this kind of food,” Salgado said. “You can get a Cuban sandwich from a gas station in Miami. Here, not so much.” The Chef, whose heritage is Cuban and Spanish, takes his ingredients seriously, explaining “I get my bread shipped in from Ybor City in Tampa, I get my octopus from Spain and my conch (meat) from the Bahamas. It’s all real, all the recipes are my grandmother’s.”
The entrées are eclectic— from tacos (fish, pork, chicken and vegetarian) and empanadas, to the more classic comfort foods, like Picadillo, ground beef is combined with a sweet tomato paste, olives and raisins, and served atop yellow rice and sweet plantains. It’s like the best meaty pasta sauce you’ve ever had, with an exotic twist.
The classic Cuban sandwich gets the authenticity nod here, with roasted pork, ham, cheese, mustard and pickles. What really sets it apart is the bread. The baguette-style bread is made by a baker down in the heart of Tampa’s Cuban district, baked under a palm leaf to impart extra flavoring.
Ropa Vieja is another dish straight out of Cuba’s comfort cooking traditions. Shredded beef, peppers, onions and tomato sauce, this is arguably the most popular item on the menu and it’s easy to see why, with the tender meat and expanse of flavor.
If you’ve never had a fried sweet plantain, a staple of Cuban meals, you’re missing out. Fortunately, The Displaced Chef does them up excellently, not mushy or too hard, a fantastic balance of fried sweet fruit – a dessert that you reward yourself with throughout the meal.
Tostones, like a potato pancake, also are made from plantains which are unripened and smashed flat, then fried with garlic to create an entirely different flavor. Coaching tip – dip them into your Picadillo.
The flan is a must-have end to this Latin meal. An aesthetically-pleasing geometric scoop of custard with a caramel-seared cap, you could easily come here just to eat dessert, but don’t cheat yourself out of the meal. Also save room to try the baked sweets, like the cinnamon sugar cookies and the mango-guava pastelitos available by the register.
The Displaced Chef restaurant is open from 11:30am-9pm, Monday-Saturday.
186 E. South Boundary St. | Perrysburg | 419-873-7388