After our time in Washington, we drove down to Portland to meet up with friends and get our fill of vegan comfort food. (And did we ever!) I hadn’t been to Portland since Vida Vegan Con in 2013. Finally, I was on my way back to the land of Nooch & Soy Curls.
When we got into town, we met up with some dear college friends over bowls at Harlow. Harlow is a favorite of our friends, and they’d been talking it up to us in messages for months. The restaurant offers a mostly vegan menu with lots of gluten-free options, juices, and smoothies.
There was already a line forming when we arrived, and so we had a chance to peruse the menu as we inched closer to the register. (You order at the counter, and then food is brought to you in the large, airy seating area.)
We were swimming in choices, and so David and I decided to order two things and split them.
I got the Adobe Salad. It’s a bowl of shredded spinach, kale, and red cabbage that’s topped with smoky tempeh, black beans, and corn. It was tossed in a sunflower chili cream, and finished with a smattering of toasted pepitas. The chili cream had the essence of chipotles in adobo (as you might guess from the name). It was filling and comforting in all of the best ways.
David chose the Mercy Blues. Two piles of garlic herb polenta were topped with steamed kale, beans, corn, and a generous spoonful of chipotle cashew hollandaise. The hollandaise was similar in flavor profile to the chili cream. Of course, when there’s an option of adding avocado, the answer is always yes.
After lunch, we walked up and down Hawthorne Boulevard, where there are loads of cute shops and an offshoot of Powell’s Books. While we perused the bookstore, we noticed we weren’t getting a ton of shopping done, as we kept lingering in the aisles to catch up. So we headed back to Harlow, where we could grab a beverage and leisurely chat.
I got the Melody, which is a freshly-squeezed juice mix of kale, cucumber, spinach, apple, and lemon. It usually comes with ginger as well, but I asked for it to be omitted. (I like ginger okay, but I don’t really need it in juice-form. I’ll save it for stir-fries, thanks.) The drink was refreshing and went down easy. David got the Marionberry Chia Lemonade.
By then it was time to pick up our friend, Kristy, from the airport. Kristy and Chris from Keepin’ It Kind were going to fly up from Los Angeles to meet us for a few days of fun in the Port. However, work came up for Chris, and he wasn’t able to join us. Sad as we were to miss out on seeing him, I was glad Kristy was still able to join us for a few days.
After hugs and hellos, Kristy, David, and I checked in at our AirBnb. The house had many things going for it, but best of all, it was walking distance from Homegrown Smoker. They really should put that in their write-up.
If I had to make a list of my top five favorite restaurants, Homegrown Smoker would absolutely be on it. I’ve been dreaming about it ever since I visited in 2013. I follow them on Facebook and Instagram, even though it means I’m in a constant state of longing for smoky plant based barbecue I have no way of eating without a plane ticket or 3 day drive.
The three of us walked down to the food truck lot, where Homegrown Smoker has a permanent set-up. (They also have a new brick and mortar deli. However, they were closed the day we tried to visit.) I have it bad for smoky foods, but most smokehouses and barbecue joints are full-on meaty affairs. At Homegrown Smoker, 100% of it is vegan.
Do you ever feel so excited to eat somewhere or do something, that your stomach is in knots? After so much build-up, I really didn’t know how I was going to place my order.
I decided to go with the combo plate, which is truly a ridiculous amount of food. But at least I wouldn’t have FOMO on the other options. The combo comes with a choice of proteins. I went with smoked Soy Curls and smoked tofu. Then for my two sides, I chose collards along with mac and cheese. It also includes two hushpuppies and remoulade.
Look at that bad boy! So much smoky, cheesy, salty goodness all in one a place. I can go hot and cold on Soy Curls, but at Homegrown Smoker, they do them right. They have a great toothsome chew that is dry and saucy all at the same time.
David got the All American Burger, which is a Field Roast burger cooked in their smoker and served with raw greens, tomato, pickles, and mango-habanero mustard. He liked his sandwich well enough that when we went back to Homegrown Smoker on our last day in Portland, he ordered it again.
On that day, I got one of the HGS classics – the macnocheeto burrito. The burrito is massive. It’s stuffed with smoked Soy Curls, grilled peppers and onions, mac and cheese, and BBQ beans folded into a flour tortilla. It’s the kind of burrito that invites you to climb into it and take a nap.
Parting is such sweet sorrow, HGS… Say goodnight that it might be ‘morrow.
To continue with my second day of Portland eating & sightseeing, click here.