If I could pack up one restaurant from Portland and bring it back home with me, it would be the Homegrown Smoker. As luck would have it, it would also be the easiest restaurant to kidnap trucknap since it is a food truck. That’s right, my favorite dining establishment in all of Portland has no waiters or waitresses. It’s parked in a lot with several other food trucks, and the outdoor seating area is only covered by an awning. That means in times of rain and a good wind, it can get a bit damp. The bathroom is a port-o-potty by the name of Honey Bucket. (Seriously. Who thought that name was a good idea?)
But the food. Oh. My. God. First of all, it’s so unique. I’ve done my fair share of traveling, but I have never encountered an exclusively vegan barbecue joint with an actual smoker. I am a barbecue fan from way back, but even finding vegan barbecued options can be tricky. At the Homegrown Smoker everything is vegan with lots of gluten-free options… Just the smell emanating off the truck in waves of fragrant smoke was enough to make me want to return again and again.
Applewood smoked Soy Curls, tofu, and Beyond Meat, chronic tempeh ribs, sweet molasses corn bread, baked beans, hush puppies, stewed greens… (Seriously, do you think my Hyundai could pull a food truck? I need to get on this STAT.)
So the first time that we visited, I had no choice but to order the TRUEBEN. I have been compiling an updated list of favorite reubens, and it’s just getting ridiculous. The bar keeps getting set higher and higher. The TRUEBEN was made with thinly sliced seitan pastrami that had been double smoked for maximum smoky effect. It was served on rye bread with grilled peppers and onions, sauerkraut, and a creamy remoulade sauce. The smokiness of the sandwich combined with the subtle sweetness of the sauce and a slight sour bite from the sauerkraut made for a reuben lover’s dream.
It came with a choice of sides, and I went with their stewed greens, which were melt-in-your mouth perfection, dotted with tomatoes, onions, garlic, vinegar, and their house made rub.
David had the Buff Chikn Sammich, which is their buffalo-style sandwich made with Beyond Meat and served on a bun with salad greens, grilled peppers, onions, and jalapenos. It’s then tossed with buffalo sauce and ranch dressing. This was the first experience with Beyond Meat for each of us, and we both enjoyed it. It had a good bite and texture. It picked up a lot of that grilled flavor underneath the spicy sauce. David said about it, “To say that this is one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had is not hyperbole.” For his side, David chose a mound of crisp sweet potato fries.
Of course, after that introduction, we really had to go back a second time before we left. This time around, I wanted to maximize my taste options, and so I ordered the HGS BBQ Platter, which comes with a choice of two proteins and two sides, along with sweet molasses cornbread. This thing was huge. We easily could have split it, but I was more than happy to reheat my leftovers the next day for an unconventional breakfast.
I filled out my plate with smoked Soy Curls, which were loaded with the flavor of applewood and topped with a bourbon barbecue sauce, and smoked tofu that was dense with a great bite. I couldn’t resist revisiting the stewed greens and adding in STFU Puppies, their crisp corn fritters, which are served with the remoulade sauce.
This time around David opted for the special of the day – the Cajun tofu sandwich. It was made with fried tofu, coleslaw, jalapeños, grilled onions and peppers, and served with a drizzling of their mellow yellow sauce. It came with a choice of sides, and David went with classic french fries.
Until I can manage a return trip to the Portland area, I’m going to keep working on the details of the Homegrown Smoker’s cross-country move. I know it’s going to be a disappoint to the locals to lose it, but hey, I’ll let them keep the Honey Buckets.