In the spirit of truly feeling “at home” in Charleston, I’m reviewing some of my favorite “hidden gems” around town. You might not see these businesses on TV and none are tacky tourist traps.
With my city gaining various accolades in the public eye, here’s where the Lowcountry locals go!
Food truck lunches are a way of life for people like Clay who work in large, traditional, corporate offices, because driving to a location, ordering, and eating lunch within an hour can be challenging. 100% of people working in my (home) office would support a truck if it came here, but it’s hard enough to get an ice cream truck to come to Suburbia by the Swamps, let alone a food truck.
On Saturdays and Sundays at the local farmer’s markets, I can get my food truck fix, and I frequent one of our favorite Charleston-area food trucks, Roti Rolls.
Most Saturdays, Charleston residents can find Roti Rolls at the Marion Square Farmer’s Market, and on Sundays, they visit the Sunday Brunch Farmer’s Market on James Island when it’s in season. The Marion Square Market is huge, so we usually visit the James Island market on Sundays- lots of parking, closer to home, fewer vendors (but all the necessities), and same delicious food trucks.
Roti Rolls features small sandwiches on their signature roti bread, filled with delicious and local ingredients, but they occasionally offer other favorites such as chickpea sliders, a roti grilled cheese sandwich, noodle dishes, Creole mac and cheese, and Korean tacos.
Roti Rolls fuses Indian, Korean, Latin American, and Southern food for a delicious lunch on wheels. One roti, the French Kiss, features cheddar grits, braised beef tongue, egg, and kimchi- how’s that for fusing different cultures and flavors?
Some of our favorite dishes include the Buddha and Lotus Bowls, which are noodle dishes. The Buddha Bowl contains bone broth, rice noodles, short ribs, egg, and kimchi, while the vegetarian version, the Lotus Bowl, contains rice noodles, kombu broth, kale, squash, and pickled beets.
Roti Rolls’ menu changes based on the local produce and demand, so when the noodle bowls aren’t available, Clay and I usually order a few roti sandwiches and an order of kimchi fried rice to split. If the chickpea sliders are on the menu, I order those because they are smaller versions of the Chickpea burger, a signature dish at The Green Door (a restaurant that was located downtown and operated by the creator of Roti Rolls, Cory Burke).
Despite preparing your order in a truck, Roti Rolls strives accommodate all tastes. I don’t eat meat and rarely eat seafood, but I’ve never left hungry, and most of the vegetarian options are vegan as well. For the meat-eaters, the roti sandwiches contain every type of meat from short rib to swordfish to chicken salad.
While the flavors are far from traditional, they are very delicious. Charleston is known for shrimp and grits, coconut cake, fried foods, and other Southern dishes, but trucks like Roti Rolls have carved out a niche following. Each week, they use Facebook and Twitter to let those following know where they’ll be.
You can’t find the culinary delicacies of Roti Rolls at any Charleston-area restaurant, but if you see the green truck out and about, rethink your traditional lunch or dinner and plan to have an adventurous feast… from a green truck.
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