Returning to the Lowcountry after many years away has revealed that there’s more to gastronomic delights of the South than just sweet tea and fried okra. Recently, the Sixth Annual Charleston Food Truck Festival offered a variable sampler plate of reasons to love mobile eats when you’re hungry ’round these parts; here’s just a few favorites worth noting:
1. Location: Park Circle
This year’s event, held in the Park Circle, North Charleston, an area planned as one of only two English Garden Style communities in the US, features an attractive “main street” (East Montague Avenue), through the center of the Historic District. Recently, a number of diverse eateries and shops have moved in taking over vintage storefronts and renovating retail spaces.
2. Free Admission for People and Dogs
The Food Truck Festival, located at Garco Mill, within walking distance from the main street, welcomed hungry participants and their dogs with free admission, encouraging everyone to meander across a large, open grassy space from one mouthwatering truck to the next.
While live music from bands including Dead 27’s and Red Cellar Review filled the clear, cool daytime air, four-legged friends intermingled with the long lines for tasty treats.
Nestled in the center of food trucks and craft beer tents were the attention-getters from Carolina Coonhound Rescue, each sporting an “Adopt Me” vest and offering warm hugs to those passing by. One big boy, Kringle, was getting attention from all the ladies, luring them in with his long ears and charming personality.
While many dogs were available to adopt or foster, it was Kringle who seemed to whisper “I’m available,” while eyeballing the delectable, unique offerings from Mac the Cheese.
Of the thirty or so food trucks lined up semi-circle, mobile eateries worth noticing included Semilla Mexican Street Food, The Immortal Lobster, and Avila Venezuelan Cuisine, all offering their finest with swift, friendly service.
4. Elote and Tacos
First up on the tasting menu: delicious Tacos de Arbol with butternut squash, sweet onions and fresh cilantro, along with authentic eloté – roasted corn with Cotija cheese, butter and chili powder – from Semilla Mexican Street Food, which evolved from the restaurant Seed to a successful food truck.
5. Lobster Rolls and Bisque
Next, half a buttery lobster roll and a cup of creamy lobster bisque from The Immortal Lobster, both well worth the list prices of $12 and $8, respectively. If you’ve never been to Maine to have a real lobster roll, try this one, which arrived in Charleston from New England around 2007. Finally, a stride to Avila Venezuelan Cuisine, a long time food-truck veteran, revealed sold-out handmade arepas, the deep craving from South America that will have to be fulfilled by visiting their Calhoun Street restaurant.
6. That Grate-full Feeling
With a grate-full belly of craft beer and delicious fare, plus a new heart space for Coonhounds, saying goodbye to the Six Annual Charleston Food Truck Festival not only left a warm feeling inside to counter the crisp late afternoon air, but an appreciation for all the delicious goodness the Lowcountry has to offer.