Two semi-permanent food trucks offer area international flavor and variety
by Lorne Chambers | Editor
The Charleston food truck scene has been going strong for the better part of the last decade. The mobile restaurant concept offers chefs and budding restaurateurs a chance to get their food out into the community without the burden of operating a brick-and-mortar space. However, there are challenges. Beyond the small working quarters, finding locations that are consistent can be hard. Besides the hustle of working festivals and breweries, finding a permanent—or semi-permanent—home to park your food truck/trailer can be key to long-term success.
With a shortage of walkable commercial districts in West Ashley, the area has proven to not always be the most food truck-friendly locale. Some past examples, that once called West Ashley home and are now sadly at the food truck rodeo in the sky, include Hello My Name Is BBQ and Autobahn.
However, two new(ish) food trucks have found a home in West Ashley and their owners are banking that high-traffic counts and convenient parking will lure in patrons. And with the number of positive COVID-19 cases continuing to surge, having an outdoor, to-go format may also prove to be positive with many potential diners wary of eating indoors or eating out at all.
For the last couple months, Poseidon’s Playground has set up shop at 1756 Ashley River Road, beside the Exxon on the corner of Highway 61 and Wappoo Road. While it may evoke the name of a Greek god, Poseidon’s Playground actually specializes in Mexican street food with a Lowcountry seafood flair. However, just a couple miles away is Platia, which actually does specialize in Greek food.
Both Poseidon’s Playground and Patia give West Ashley residents two unique and delicious options for lunch and dinner, each with their own flair. Platia has been around Charleston since 2013, popping up at music festivals and other events. But just last year the popular food truck found their semi-permanent home in the parking lot of The Schoolhouse, located at 720 Magnolia Road, on the corner of Magnolia and Savage roads.
Platia’s menu is largely traditional Mediterranean cuisine with a touch of local flair. For example, in addition to gyros, falafel, hummus, and chicken soulvaki, it also offers The Hillybilly, which is a chicken gyro with feta-pimento cheese, pickled onions, and tomato.
Platia owners Leonardo Frias and Edoardo Pignataro, bring diverse backgrounds to their Mediterranean food truck concept. Frias is an Ecuadorian native who moved to the United States when he was 16. He was raised by Greeks who taught him the art of Mediterranean cuisine. After obtaining his culinary degree Frias moved to Charleston and started Platia.
Pignataro, a native of Bologna, Italy, joined Frias in 2016, bringing with him 16 years of experience as a chef. Edoardo is also a professional magician who has performed all around the world. Since last year, Platia has been a magical addition to the West Ashley food scene. Known for creative Greek offerings, such as feta fries and Mediterranean bowls, Platia is also vegetarian-friendly. In addition to offering chicken, lamb on their bowls, platters, and gyros, Platia also offers “impossible” meat in addition to homemade falafel.
Still relatively new to West Ashley, Platia has been wheeling around Charleston for the last eight years. The new kid on the West Ashley food truck scene is Poseidon Playground. While, technically not kids, 19-year-old friends and former R.B. Stall High classmates Jonathan Castro and Enrique Celaya offer inspired Mexican cuisine, with a heavy emphasis on the bounty of seafood the Lowcountry has to offer. Thus the name Poseidon Playground. In ancient Greek mythology, Poseidon was god of the sea.
When Castro first launched the food truck about six months agao, he says the concept was slightly different. Initially Poseidon’s Playground was going to be strictly seafood with a Latin flair. But according to Castro, they noticed that there was more and more demand for that Latin flair side of things.
“We started off 100-percent seafood. Then I started adding in some of my grandma’s authentic Mexican recipes and they became really popular,” says Castro, who worked at Locals Sushi & Sports Pub in West Ashley before launching Poseidon’s. Grandma’s authentic Mexican recipes became a hit and so Castro started leaning more towards the Mexican food truck concept but keeping a heavy emphasis on seafood. For example you can order four different kinds of shrimp tacos — Spicy Shrimp (breaded shrimp, fried jalapeño, spicy sauce, sour cream), Creamy Shrimp (breaded shrimp, guacamole, cilantro salsa), Mexican shrimp (breaded shrimp, pico de gallo salsa), Shrimp and Cheese (breaded shrimp, cheese, pico de galla, chipotle mayo), and Brisket and Shrimp (brisket, breaded shrimp, red salsa, onion, sour cream). In the warmer months Poseidon’s offers fresh ceviche and Castro says they will soon be offering a seafood soup for the winter months. He says they get all their seafood fresh from local markets.
Castro says he enjoys watching food trends and adapting. Anytime he adds something new to the menu, he says he gets grandma’s approval. One food trend that Castro has added to the menu, which has proven to be a hit is the birria-style taco, which is a fried taco that is served with a consomme to dip it in.
As more people find out about Poseidon’s Playground and Platia, it will be interesting to see if an ever-evolving West Ashley will prove to be a sustainable home to food trucks in the future. Hopefully, their success will encourage other creative concepts to give West Ashley a chance.
Platia is located at The Schoolhouse, 720 Magnolia Road. For more informtation, visit www.platiagreekfood.com. Poseidon’s Playground is located at 1756 Ashley River Road. For more information, visit them on Facebook.