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The ultimate guide to Charleston area food trucks

The ultimate guide to Charleston area food trucks

Unless you work in a very big office or live in an apartment complex, you probably haven’t patronized a food truck lately.

As The Post and Courier’s food section two years ago reported in its first overview of local food trucks, food truckers here serve a very different function than their brethren in Austin, Texas, or Portland, Ore. Whereas trucks in those cities are generally devoted to a single niche item that wouldn’t fly as a full-fledged restaurant concept, such as avocado tacos or Mauritian samosas, Charleston area truck operators tend to be generalists.

That’s because rather than deal with the hassles associated with driving and parking a food truck in downtown Charleston, most truckers here instead gravitate toward places that could provide food service but don’t. And when a truck is a stand-in for an office cafeteria, condo snack bar or brewery kitchen, it’s bound to offer an approachable menu of burgers and fried chicken sandwiches. Pizza and barbecue are popular, too.

So that much hasn’t changed since The Post and Courier last profiled the food truck scene. But the topic seemed ripe for revisit, if only because there are so many more trucks on the road. According to S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, there are now approximately 220 trucks, carts and trailers licensed to sell food in Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester counties.

If you’re already familiar with a truck or two, that doesn’t necessarily mean your lunch options have suddenly increased a hundredfold: A number of those permits belong to food trucks that aren’t currently active. And even active trucks may confine their public appearances to occasional special events.

Still, food trucks are no longer a sidebar to the area’s culinary conversation. Much of the talent and diversity that engaged eaters seek are now found on four wheels.

Found, though, is the operative word. Until now, there hasn’t been a complete listing of food trucks for potential customers to consult. The following directory is the first comprehensive guide to who’s serving what, where and when in the tri-county area.

Of course, it comes with a few caveats: Any hunter can appreciate the difficulty of tracking down things that move. In addition to sending a survey to every food truck with an online presence, I looked for trucks without posted contact information at the addresses their owners registered with the state, as well as along corridors where trucks like to park. I also chased after truckers who didn’t respond to e-mail or social media messages, following the same method. In both cases, my success rate was about zero.

Fortunately, though, it’s easy enough to update our online directory: Please feel free to get in touch if your truck’s missing from the list. And if you’re just hungry, please keep the following in mind:

  • It’s common for a truck to have a website, Facebook account and Twitter account, but the online address listed for each truck is where schedule updates are posted most frequently and reliably.
  • And speaking of reliability, plenty of food truckers got into trucking because they wanted the freedom to set their own schedules. In other words, it’s never guaranteed that a truck will show up where and when you expect it. Even when a truck has a standing appointment (listed here as “on the street”), it’s always wise to check its current plans before making a trip.

Here we go! Use the links below to jump by cuisine type.

Asian | Barbecue | European | Hot dogs and burgers | Latin American | Mediterranean | Pizza | Seafood | Southern | Sweets |

ASIAN

Dashi (R)

Dashi truck

Specific fixations often inspire trucks: In the case of Dashi, the owners were initially most interested in paella and steamed buns.

Opened: 2015

Owners: Stephen Thompson and Oscar Hines

Signature dish: Duck curry noodles

Price: $5-$11

Online: dashichs.com

Happy Thai (R)

Happy Thai truck

Happy Thai’s menu, designed for outdoor snacking, includes steamed buns and barbecue pork on a stick, but most customers order the chicken pad thai.

Opened: 2016

Owner: Ava Raley

Signature dish: Pad Thai

Price: $7-$16

Online: facebook.com/happythaitruck

Lola's Lumpia and Filipino Cuisine (R)

Lola's Lumpia truck

Lola Lumpia food truck

The former owners of Willie’s on Dorchester Road are using recipes specific to their family but swear their dishes will take anyone who grew up eating Filipino food “right back to their Lola (grandmother)’s house, surrounded by family and friends, just eating and enjoying each other’s company.”

Opened: 2018

Owners: Mark and Reneka Prynkiewic

Signature dish: Chicken adobo, marinated overnight; browned in a wok; simmered and served over garlic rice.

Price: $4-$10

Online: streetfoodfinder.com

Root Note (R)

Root Note truck

Root Note food truck

After 20 years in food service, Josh Taylor launched Root Note so he could cook what he wanted to cook, including locally grown food with Southeast Asian spices.

Opened: 2017

Owner: Josh Taylor

Root Note tacos

Signature dish: Curried shrimp-and-grit fritters with chili bacon jam

Price: $8-$12

Online: instagram.com/rootnotefood

BARBECUE

Alicia's Northside Bar and Grill (R)

Alicia's truck

After striking out in their search for a restaurant location, the Seymours purchased a food trailer. It’s named for their daughter, who passed away in 2003.

Opened: 2018

Owners: Jermaine and Erykah Seymour

Signature dish: Ribs, slow-smoked over applewood for three hours

Price: $8-$35

Online: facebook.com/aliciasbbq

Braised in the South (R)

Braised in the South truck

Put together in order to compete on a Food Network reality show, Braised in the South has outlasted its season of "The Great Food Truck Race."

Opened: 2017

Owners: Steve Klatt and Brandon Lapp

Braised in the South mac-and-cheese

Signature dish: Mac-and-pimento cheese with smoked pork

Price: $3-$12

Online: instagram.com/braisedinthesouth

Cooking Carolina Pit Barbecue (C)

Cooking Carolina truck

Owned by the founder of an annual pig roast in Beech Mountain, N.C., Cooking Carolina specializes in Eastern Carolina barbecue.

Opened: 2015

Owner: John Wade

Carolina Cooking pulled pork sandwich

Signature dish: Pulled pork sandwich with slaw

Price: $6-$13

Online: facebook.com/CookingCarolina

Oh Yah BBQ (R)

To cut the smoke of its barbecue, Oh Yah offers fried flavored Oreos for dessert.

Opened: 2018

Owner: James Romer

Signature dish: The Adam: Pulled pork wrapped in brisket and set on a Hawaiian bun with pickles.

Price: $2-$18

Online: facebook.com/ohyahbbq

Squeals on Wheels (R)

Squeals on Wheels recently taped a segment for the Food Network.

Opened: 2015

Owner: Anthony Sappe

Signature dish: Piggy Parfait, a layered meal of smoked chicken, bacon mac-and-cheese, baked beans, pulled pork and sweet coleslaw.

Price: $3-$12

Online: facebook.com/squealsonwheelscharleston

EUROPEAN

Brunch Holiday (R)

Brunch Holiday truck

Brunch Holiday’s interpretation of beer-appropriate food is decidedly British, down to the Scotch eggs.

Opened: 2017

Owners: Natalie and Timmy Brock

Brunch Holiday sandwich

Signature dish:  A sandwich of British back bacon, sage sausage, fried egg, herb-stewed tomatoes, portobellos with Irish cheddar and HP sauce on buttered Texas toast.

Price: $7-$11

Online: instagram.com/brunchholidayfoodtruck

Krystyna's Authentic Polish Food (R)

Victor Krupa’s truck is named for his late mother, Krystyna Wozniak, who perfected many of the recipes he serves.

Opened: 2018

Owner: Victor Krupa

Krystna pierogies

Signature dish: Goblacki, traditional tomato-sauced cabbage rolls filled with meat, rice and spices

Price: $7-$8

Online: krystynaspolishfood.com

HOT DOGS AND/OR BURGERS

Al's Barkers Hot Dogs (R)

A native New Yorker, Cohen says he “made a pact that when I retire, I will open up a hot dog cart.”

Opened: 2016

Owner: Alan Cohen

Signature dish: Chili dog

Price: $4-$9

Online: Search for Al’s Barkers on Facebook

Area 51 Foods (R)

Area 51 truck

Childhood memories of aeblskivers, commonly described as Denmark’s doughnut, inspired Nelson to start a food truck. He doesn’t serve the traditional pastry but has put hamburger meat in a puff.

Opened: 2015

Owner: Eric Nelson

Area 51 burger

Signature dish: Chicken Crack, a sandwich of slow-roasted chicken and ranch-powdered cream cheese on buttered Texas toast.

Price: $5-$12

Online: facebook.com/area51foodtruck

Bac'n Me Crazy (R)

Maybe you’ve already heard of Bac’n Me Crazy: The truck competed in The Post and Courier’s Charleston’s Choice awards, and in 2016 and 2017 was voted a finalist by the paper’s readers.

Opened: 2014

Owner: Jason Broz

Signature dish: The Triple Bacon Burger, a one-third pound burger topped with Applewood-smoked Boradbent’s bacon and bacon aioli, served with bacon-salted French fries

Price: $6-$17

Online: bacnmecrazy.com/schedule/

Bearded Dogs (R)

Owner Zach Platis started working in his father’s restaurants when he was in grade school.

Opened: 2018

Owner: Zach Platis

Signature dish: The Balboa, a hot dog topped with onions, peppers and cheese sauce, and served on a pretzel bun

Price: $6-$10

Online: instagram.com/BeardedDogsCHS

Cast Iron Food Truck (C)

Once solely a burger-and-barbecue specialist, Cast Iron now focuses on serving a full menu at catering gigs.

Opened: 2012

Owner: Victor Colbert

Signature dish: Carolina-style barbecue sandwich with slaw

Price: $10-$12

Online: castiron-foodtruck.com

On the street: Celadon Warehouse, 2221 Noisette Blvd., Tuesdays

Chicken Fats (R)

Zrust’s passion for great cheeseburgers led him to trade steady restaurant work for a food truck.

Opened: 2018

Owner: Scott Zrust

Signature dish: The OG Cheesburger, made with two cast iron-seared patties and served with a side of pimento queso tater tots

Price: $5-$13

Online: facebook.com/chickenfatsfoodtruck

Dolo’s Dawgs (R)

Dolo’s this summer started serving fresh lemonade in addition to hot dogs and chips.

Opened: 2018

Owner: Alex Maldonado

Signature dish: Chili dog with jalapenos, mustard and cheese

Price: $3-$7

Online: Search for Dolo’s Dawgs on Facebook

Herd Provisions (R)

A farmer who raised cows and chickens in Virginia, Alec Bradford hired former Abundant Seafood fishmonger Aaron Swersky to create a menu of cheffy sandwiches and poutine.

Opened: 2017

Owner: Alec Bradford

Signature dish: Fried Brussels sprouts with honey sauce

Price: $8-$12

Online: herdprovisions.com

On the street: MUSC Horseshoe, 171 Ashley Ave., Thursdays

Jonny Poppers Burger Buggy (R)

Self-described “former corporate world people” Larry and Leisa Fulton subjected a burger recipe to years of research and development before serving their first third-pounder.  

Opened: 2018

Owner: Larry and Leisa Fulton

Jonny Poppers burger

Signature dish: A house-ground, hand-pattied burger with lettuce, tomato, onion, mustard and mayonnaise.

Price: $9-$11

Online: jonnypoppers.com

Just Eat This! (C)

Owner Chris Casner chose the name of his truck and catering company so he wouldn’t be locked into serving any particular kind of food.

Opened: 2014

Owner: Chris Casner

Signature dish: Jalapeno bacon cheeseburger

Price: $9-$11

Online: streetfoodfinder.com

Lunchbox (R)

Lunchbox truck

Jonathan Tatar and his father drove the school bus that houses Lunchbox across the country so experts in Los Angeles could convert it into a nacho-and-hot dog stand on wheels.

Opened: 2014

Owner: Jonathan Tatar

Lunchbox hot dog

Signature dish: The Lunchdog, an all-beef hot dog topped with pulled pork, coleslaw and barbecue sauce

Price: $7-$10

Online: instagram.com/charlestonlunchbox

Miracle’s Tasty Express (R)

“I saw food trucks come out to my job, so I watched, learned and launched,” says owner Tarcha Simmons, who started selling hot dogs, nachos, chips and drinks so she’d have more time to spend with her son.

Opened: 2014

Owners: Tarcha Simmons

Signature dish: Miracle Dog, a hot dog topped with pulled pork, chili, cheese and smoked bacon

Price: $4-$8

Phone line: 787-999-3947

LATIN AMERICAN

Comostamos (R)

Todd Luce also owns Slice Co., which recently settled on Savannah Highway after a stint at Pacific Box & Crate; the pizzeria operates its own food truck.

Opened: 2015

Owner: Todd Luce

Signature dish: Shrimp ceviche

Price: $4-$10

Online: facebook.com/comostamosonthego

El Sazon Latino (F)

Like so many trucks, Taqueria El Sazon Latino is a family enterprise, with owner Lourdes DeFilippo’s husband and cousin helping to make corn and flour tortillas, carne asada, lengua and al pastor.

Opened: 2017

Owner: Lourdes DeFilippo

Signature dish: Quesadilla

Prices: $2-$8

Phone line: 843-619-8052

On the street: 1229 Red Bank Road

Espettos on Wheels (R)

Espettos on Wheels truck

Espetto’s tagline is “the taste of real churrasko,” a Brazilian grilled meat style that most American-born discover at all-you-can-eat steakhouses with parading servers.  

Opened: 2018

Owner: Marcos Azevedo

Signature dish: Skewered steak

Price: $10

Online: facebook.com/espettosonwheelschs

Madrigal’s Tacos and Latin Cuisine (C)

For 24 years, cooking was a hobby for Rodrigo Madrigal Jr. He worked as a professional thoroughbred jockey.

Opened: 2018

Owner: Rodrigo Madrigal Jr.

Signature dish: The Latino Bowl: Slow-roasted pork and Cuban black beans over Puerto Rican yellow rice, finished with chimichurri sauce.

Price: $10

Online: facebook.com/madrigalstacos

Rebel Taqueria (C)

Rebel Taqueria truck

Rebel Taqueria food truck

Rebel serves its tacos and burritos on organic tortillas made by local producer Mitla Tortilleria.

Opened: 2017

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Owner: Lewis Kesaris

Signature dish: Yoda Balls, hushpuppies infused with salsa verde; topped with jalapeno agave nectar and garnished with cojita cheese

Price: $4-$13

Online: instagram.com/rebeltaqueria

On the street: The Brick, 24 Ann St., Tuesday, 6 p.m.-1 a.m. 

Rolled Quesadillas (R)

The idea for Rolled Quesadillas came from Chipotle, where Garate was allowed to fashion his own employee meals.

Opened: 2016

Owners: Hector Garate and Marisol Garraton

Signature dish: Rolled carne asada quesadilla with caramelized onions and extra cheese

Price: $5-$13

Online: facebook.com/rolledquesadillas1

Sabor Latino (F)

During the week, Miguel Lopez sells his popular tacos and tortas in a restaurant at 139 Red Bank Road, where he also serves tlayudas.

Opened: 2016

Owner: Miguel Lopez

Signature dish: Cabeza burrito

Price: $2-$10

Online: facebook.com/tacoman139

On the street: Coastal Carolina Flea Market, 165 Market Road, Ladson, Weekends

MEDITERRANEAN

Greekin Out (R)

Although it’s hard to think about more food after a holiday meal, the plan for Greekin Out was hatched over a Thanksgiving table.  

Opened: 2018

Owners: Harry Arsi and Casey Parrish

Signature dish: Gyro

Price: $10

Online: greekinoutsc.com

Platia (F)

When professional magician Edoardo Pignataro joined its operating team two years ago, “Platia became 100 times more popular, serving gyros with a side of magic,” Leonardo Frias says.

Opened: 2013

Owners: Leonardo Frias, Edoardo Pignataro and Rodrigo de Zorzi

Signature dish: Lamb gyro

Price: $3-$11

Online: instagram.com/platiafood

On the street: At the corner of King and Spring streets, 7 p.m.-3 a.m. Thursday-Saturday.

Wally Gyros (R)

Wally Gryos truck

“I am one of the best fast food trucks in town,” says Waled Mohamed, who ran two restaurants before rolling out his mobile menu of pita sandwiches, rice bowls and “loaded fries,” meaning meat, sauce and toppings are added to the tub.

Opened: 2007

Owner: Waled Mohamed

Signature dish: Lamb gyro with rice and salad

Price: $3-$12.99

Online: wallygyro.com

On the street: 2028 Pittsburg Ave., most days

PIZZA

Smokin’ Gringos BBQ and Pizza (R)

Mike Bastin practiced his barbecue skills on the competition circuit before launching his truck.

Opened: 2015

Owner: Mike Bastin

Signature dish: Brisket

Price: $10-$20

Online: facebook.com/chucktownsmokingringos/

Towin’ the Dough (C)

Towin' the Dough truck

Sean Connor gave up his general manager job at Mad River Bar and Grille to study school counseling; he launched a food truck soon after seeing his first educator’s paycheck.

Opened: 2015

Towin' the Dough pizza

Owners: Sean Connor and Vince Laviano

Signature dish: Mushroom truffle pizza

Price: $4

Online: instagram.com/towin_the_dough

SEAFOOD

The Immortal Lobster (R)

Immortal Lobster truck

The Immortal Lobster’s split-top buns come from a local bakery owned by a Bostonian sympathetic to what the truck’s co-owner, originally from coastal Maine, is trying to accomplish.

Opened: 2015

Owners: Jared and Katie Maus

Immortal Lobster roll

Signature dish: Connecticut-style lobster roll

Prices: $6-$21

Online: immortallobster.com

The Island’s Mobile Kitchen (F)

Champaigne learned how to fry seafood in a commercial setting while working at Captain D’s.

Opened: 2017

Owner: Harold Champaigne

Signature dish: Seafood platter with flounder, oysters, shrimps, scallops, soft-shell crab, hush puppies and fries

Price: $7-$26

Online: Search for The Islands Mobile Kitchen on Facebook

On the street: Corner of King and Wolfe streets, 9 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday-Saturday

K2 Seafood (F)

Fried crabs are served at K2 Seafood with a choice of 10 different seasonings, including spicy Florida garlic butter.

Opened: 2010

Owner: Kory Kearney

Signature dish: Fried crab

Prices: $6-$21

Text line: Text K2SEAFOOD to 51660

On the street: 3803 Ashley Phosphate Road.

Ravenel Fresh Seafood #2 (E)

Ravenel Seafood truck

“Everyone that came into my restaurant always would ask for me to open a store in their area, because they're crazy about the food,” says Lakenya Brown-Washington, who tried to please everyone by creating a mobile extension of her hugely popular seafood market.

Opened: 2018

Owner: Lakenya Brown-Washington

Signature dish: Garlic crabs

Price: $10.99-$27.99

Online: Search for Ravenel Seafood on Facebook

SOUTHERN

Food Box (R)

When food trucks first took to the streets in and around Charleston, many of them served Southern menus; as a three-year-old operation, Food Box is a member of that generation.

Opened: 2015

Owner: Matt Savage

Signature dish: Fried chicken sandwich with pimento cheese, pickled jalapenos and chive mayonnaise

Price: $9-$10

Online: instagram.com/foodboxthetruck

The Golden Pineapple (R)

Jennifer Ramirez is a graduate of Palmetto Goodwill’s Culinary Kick-Start, a free eight-day job training program for people interested in restaurant work. For more information on the course, visit palmettogoodwill.org/cook.

Opened: 2018

Owner: Jennifer Ramirez and Amber Cooler

Signature dish: The Golden Pineapple, a barbecue pork sandwich on challah with pineapple chunks and fresh basil

Price: $3-$10

Online: instagram.com/thegoldenpineapplesc

Johnny’s Homemade Biscuits (R)

The biscuits at Johnny’s are made from flour, baking powder, baking soda, kosher salt, lard and buttermilk. “Simple goodness,” John Holmes says.

Opened: 2018

Owners: John Holmes and Anouska Mayer

Signature dish: Biscuits

Price: $2.50-$13

Online: instagram.com/johnnyshomemadebiscuits

Kay’s Southern Gourmet (R)

In addition to lunch items, Kay’s serves stuffed hash browns, burritos and biscuits for breakfast.

Opened: 2014

Owner: Cassandra Swearington

Signature dish: Gumbo with chicken, sausage and shrimp

Price: $4.50-$12

Online: facebook.com/kaysoutherngourmet

Pep Rolls (R)

Pep Rolls Truck.jpg

Mathias Hickman, parked at the Medical University of South Carolina, has been serving pepperoni rolls from his cart, Pep Rolls, for five years, Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018 in Charleston. Grace Beahm Alford/ Staff

Yeast rolls stuffed with pepperoni slices or a pepperoni stick are easy to find around Charleston, W.Va., but weren’t widely available in the Charleston, S.C., area before Mathias Hickman took to the streets.

Opened: 2013

Owner: Mathias Hickman

Signature dish: Pepperoni roll

Price: $6-$10

Online: facebook.com/peprolls

On the street: Mount Pleasant Farmers Market, 645 Coleman Blvd., Tuesdays; Summerville Farmers Market, 200 S. Main St., Saturdays

Socu (R)

Socu makes the jalapeno tartar sauce which graces its po’boys and fried shrimp platter; the shrimp burrito is sauced with pico de gallo.

Opened: 2018

Owner: William Ratcliff

Signature dish: Shrimp po’boy

Price: $10-$14

Online: facebook.com/socutruck

SWEETS

Brava Bowls (R)

Brava Bowls truck

Schwope and DiBrigida aren’t the original owners of acai specialist Brava Bowls, but they were loyal customers while students at the College of Charleston. When the founders decided to sell, they offered the truck to Schwope and DiBrigida.

Opened: 2017

Owners: Katherine Schwope and Joey DiBrigida

Brava Bowls' bowl

Signature dish: The Ono Bowl: A thick blend of frozen bananas and apple juice, topped with coconut, hemp hearts, chia seeds, granola, strawberries, blueberries, bananas, honey and peanut butter.

Price: $6-$15

Online: instagram.com/bravabowlsacai

Cindy’s Twisted-Sicles (E)

Cindy's Twisted Sicles truck

The Shaws’ bartending background is apparent from their liquor-infused confections.

Opened: 2018

Owners: Gary and Diane Shaw

Cindy's Twisted-Sicles 'sicles

Signature dish: Rainbow Row, a frozen salute to the city’s most colorful block

Price: $8-$10

Online: facebook.com/twistedsicles

Hoba Boba (E)