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.
Specific fixations often inspire trucks: In the case of Dashi, the owners were initially most interested in paella and steamed buns.
Owners: Stephen Thompson and Oscar Hines
Signature dish: Duck curry noodles
Happy Thai (R)
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.
Owner: Ava Raley
Signature dish: Pad Thai
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.”
Owners: Mark and Reneka Prynkiewic
Signature dish: Chicken adobo, marinated overnight; browned in a wok; simmered and served over garlic rice.
Root Note (R)
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.
Owner: Josh Taylor
Signature dish: Curried shrimp-and-grit fritters with chili bacon jam
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.
Owners: Jermaine and Erykah Seymour
Signature dish: Ribs, slow-smoked over applewood for three hours
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."
Owners: Steve Klatt and Brandon Lapp
Signature dish: Mac-and-pimento cheese with smoked pork
Owned by the founder of an annual pig roast in Beech Mountain, N.C., Cooking Carolina specializes in Eastern Carolina barbecue.
Owner: John Wade
Signature dish: Pulled pork sandwich with slaw
Oh Yah BBQ (R)
To cut the smoke of its barbecue, Oh Yah offers fried flavored Oreos for dessert.
Owner: James Romer
Signature dish: The Adam: Pulled pork wrapped in brisket and set on a Hawaiian bun with pickles.
Squeals on Wheels recently taped a segment for the Food Network.
Owner: Anthony Sappe
Signature dish: Piggy Parfait, a layered meal of smoked chicken, bacon mac-and-cheese, baked beans, pulled pork and sweet coleslaw.
Brunch Holiday (R)
Brunch Holiday’s interpretation of beer-appropriate food is decidedly British, down to the Scotch eggs.
Owners: Natalie and Timmy Brock
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.
Victor Krupa’s truck is named for his late mother, Krystyna Wozniak, who perfected many of the recipes he serves.
Owner: Victor Krupa
Signature dish: Goblacki, traditional tomato-sauced cabbage rolls filled with meat, rice and spices
HOT DOGS AND/OR BURGERS
A native New Yorker, Cohen says he “made a pact that when I retire, I will open up a hot dog cart.”
Owner: Alan Cohen
Signature dish: Chili dog
Online: Search for Al’s Barkers on Facebook
Area 51 Foods (R)
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.
Owner: Eric Nelson
Signature dish: Chicken Crack, a sandwich of slow-roasted chicken and ranch-powdered cream cheese on buttered Texas toast.
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.
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
Bearded Dogs (R)
Owner Zach Platis started working in his father’s restaurants when he was in grade school.
Owner: Zach Platis
Signature dish: The Balboa, a hot dog topped with onions, peppers and cheese sauce, and served on a pretzel bun
Once solely a burger-and-barbecue specialist, Cast Iron now focuses on serving a full menu at catering gigs.
Owner: Victor Colbert
Signature dish: Carolina-style barbecue sandwich with slaw
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.
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
Dolo’s this summer started serving fresh lemonade in addition to hot dogs and chips.
Owner: Alex Maldonado
Signature dish: Chili dog with jalapenos, mustard and cheese
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.
Owner: Alec Bradford
Signature dish: Fried Brussels sprouts with honey sauce
On the street: MUSC Horseshoe, 171 Ashley Ave., Thursdays
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.
Owner: Larry and Leisa Fulton
Signature dish: A house-ground, hand-pattied burger with lettuce, tomato, onion, mustard and mayonnaise.
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.
Owner: Chris Casner
Signature dish: Jalapeno bacon cheeseburger
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.
Owner: Jonathan Tatar
Signature dish: The Lunchdog, an all-beef hot dog topped with pulled pork, coleslaw and barbecue sauce
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.
Owners: Tarcha Simmons
Signature dish: Miracle Dog, a hot dog topped with pulled pork, chili, cheese and smoked bacon
Phone line: 787-999-3947
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.
Owner: Todd Luce
Signature dish: Shrimp ceviche
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.
Owner: Lourdes DeFilippo
Signature dish: Quesadilla
Phone line: 843-619-8052
On the street: 1229 Red Bank Road
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.
Owner: Marcos Azevedo
Signature dish: Skewered steak
For 24 years, cooking was a hobby for Rodrigo Madrigal Jr. He worked as a professional thoroughbred jockey.
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.
Rebel Taqueria (C)
Rebel serves its tacos and burritos on organic tortillas made by local producer Mitla Tortilleria.
Owner: Lewis Kesaris
Signature dish: Yoda Balls, hushpuppies infused with salsa verde; topped with jalapeno agave nectar and garnished with cojita cheese
On the street: The Brick, 24 Ann St., Tuesday, 6 p.m.-1 a.m.
The idea for Rolled Quesadillas came from Chipotle, where Garate was allowed to fashion his own employee meals.
Owners: Hector Garate and Marisol Garraton
Signature dish: Rolled carne asada quesadilla with caramelized onions and extra cheese
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.
Owner: Miguel Lopez
Signature dish: Cabeza burrito
On the street: Coastal Carolina Flea Market, 165 Market Road, Ladson, Weekends
Although it’s hard to think about more food after a holiday meal, the plan for Greekin Out was hatched over a Thanksgiving table.
Owners: Harry Arsi and Casey Parrish
Signature dish: Gyro
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.
Owners: Leonardo Frias, Edoardo Pignataro and Rodrigo de Zorzi
Signature dish: Lamb gyro
On the street: At the corner of King and Spring streets, 7 p.m.-3 a.m. Thursday-Saturday.
Wally Gyros (R)
“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.
Owner: Waled Mohamed
Signature dish: Lamb gyro with rice and salad
On the street: 2028 Pittsburg Ave., most days
Mike Bastin practiced his barbecue skills on the competition circuit before launching his truck.
Owner: Mike Bastin
Signature dish: Brisket
Towin’ the Dough (C)
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.
Owners: Sean Connor and Vince Laviano
Signature dish: Mushroom truffle pizza
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.
Owners: Jared and Katie Maus
Signature dish: Connecticut-style lobster roll
Champaigne learned how to fry seafood in a commercial setting while working at Captain D’s.
Owner: Harold Champaigne
Signature dish: Seafood platter with flounder, oysters, shrimps, scallops, soft-shell crab, hush puppies and fries
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.
Owner: Kory Kearney
Signature dish: Fried crab
Text line: Text K2SEAFOOD to 51660
On the street: 3803 Ashley Phosphate Road.
“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.
Owner: Lakenya Brown-Washington
Signature dish: Garlic crabs
Online: Search for Ravenel Seafood on Facebook
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.
Owner: Matt Savage
Signature dish: Fried chicken sandwich with pimento cheese, pickled jalapenos and chive mayonnaise
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.
Owner: Jennifer Ramirez and Amber Cooler
Signature dish: The Golden Pineapple, a barbecue pork sandwich on challah with pineapple chunks and fresh basil
The biscuits at Johnny’s are made from flour, baking powder, baking soda, kosher salt, lard and buttermilk. “Simple goodness,” John Holmes says.
Owners: John Holmes and Anouska Mayer
Signature dish: Biscuits
In addition to lunch items, Kay’s serves stuffed hash browns, burritos and biscuits for breakfast.
Owner: Cassandra Swearington
Signature dish: Gumbo with chicken, sausage and shrimp
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.
Owner: Mathias Hickman
Signature dish: Pepperoni roll
On the street: Mount Pleasant Farmers Market, 645 Coleman Blvd., Tuesdays; Summerville Farmers Market, 200 S. Main St., Saturdays
Socu makes the jalapeno tartar sauce which graces its po’boys and fried shrimp platter; the shrimp burrito is sauced with pico de gallo.
Owner: William Ratcliff
Signature dish: Shrimp po’boy
Brava Bowls (R)
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.
Owners: Katherine Schwope and Joey DiBrigida
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.
The Shaws’ bartending background is apparent from their liquor-infused confections.
Owners: Gary and Diane Shaw
Signature dish: Rainbow Row, a frozen salute to the city’s most colorful block