It's no secret that you can find some of the best food around in Charleston, South Carolina. The city is known for its delicious Southern soul food and fresh-catch seafood dishes. More recently, though, the city's vegan cuisine scene has been growing thanks to local eateries like Gnome Cafe, Neon Tiger, and Bangin' Vegan Eats, a popular food truck.
Bangin' Vegan Eats offers vegan food that isn't boring, hoping to bring delicious eating and veganism to people who may not normally try a plant-based meal.
The food truck is part of a new wave of vegan cuisine, popularized by Atlanta's Slutty Vegan. For a long time, there's been a misconception that vegans just eat salads and harvest bowls, and while there's nothing wrong with salads or harvest bowls, vegans want to be able to enjoy junk food too.
"You don't have to have meat as the star of your dish to feel full and satisfied. We just hope that people understand plants have flavor," said Amie Piccioni, co-owner of Bangin' Vegan Eats with her husband Frank Piccioni.
During the pandemic, the Piccionis realized starting their own food truck was "now or never" and took the chance. Bangin' Vegan Eats opened in May 2021. They recently celebrated their first anniversary.
"At the beginning, I was nervous," Amie Piccioni recalled, "and then we got through our first full weekend...I remember crying on the way home thinking it felt like something bigger. It just felt like we were going to be okay."
Bangin' Vegan Eats has experienced numerous successes since opening, including a vegan brunch in February 2022, which was a massive hit. Over 350 people marked 'interested' on a Facebook event for the brunch and Piccioni remembers an incredibly long line.
It's no wonder the line was long. Bangin' Vegan Eats constantly has some of the best food -- vegan or otherwise -- in the area. Their burgers are to die for, their "bangers" (cauliflower wings) melt in your mouth, and their loaded fry baskets are unlike anything else.
Personally, my favorite menu item is the Mac Attack Fries. Deliciously seasoned and topped with vegan mac and cheese, housemade ranch, buffalo sauce, and scallions, the basket is big enough for a meal -- and I usually have to share. Other hits include the Thic Chic, Bangin' Vegan Eats' take on a buffalo chicken sandwich, which also happens to be Amie Piccioni's favorite menu item.
"We spent so much time on that recipe, which seems simple, but we tried a bunch of different things on it for the first year. When we were creating the menu, it all kind of came together and I thought, 'I'm never gonna find another sandwich I love more than that,'" Piccioni said.
Biting into one of Bangin' Vegan Eats' burgers, which use flavorful Beyond burgers, is also an unrivaled experience. When eating Bangin' Vegan Eats, it's easy to forget that you're actually eating vegan food.
"We're just wanting people to get an opportunity to try something that they normally would not...We've had quite a few non-vegans eat with us," Piccioni said. "They'll come back to the truck and say, 'Holy crap, I didn't really think that that was going to be that good.'"
The Piccionis are always trying out new menu items, too, each one sure to be a crowd pleaser. Recently, they've introduced "Corn off the Cob" nachos, corn tortilla chips piled high with nacho cheese, corn salsa, and jalapeño ranch.
It's still just the beginning for Bangin' Vegan Eats as they move into their second year.
"I would never have predicted that we would have the following that we have, the reviews we have, or that people would search for us and ask where we are," said Piccioni.
Charlestonians and visitors can find their sandwiches, loaded fries, and nachos all over town. The food truck travels from place to place, stopping at local favorites like Low Tide Brewing and participating in Charleston's annual Food Truck Festival.
"Vegan food doesn't have to be tasteless. It doesn't have to be boring. It's not just salads. You can do a lot of things. You just have to be creative."