Homegrown Smoker Gets a Warm, Cozy Home

After three carts, three moves, and nearly seven years, the city’s finest meatless barbecue outfit debuts a brick-and-mortar outpost.

By Tuck Woodstock January 25, 2016 Published in the February 2016 issue of Portland Monthly

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A bounty of meatless wonders, from split pea soup and subs to Caesar salad with “chickn”

Jeff Ridabock has been feeding delighted vegetarians—and confusing the heck outta omnivores—since he debuted his Homegrown Smoker Vegan BBQ trailer on NE Alberta Street in 2009. Three carts, three moves, and nearly seven years later, the plant-based eatery has become a place of pilgrimage for herbivores citywide, spurred by drool-worthy Instagram dispatches: sweet, pulled pork–style soy curls; crispy fried faux-fish sandos; and hefty, juicy, slow smoked seitan burgers topped with creamy, dairy-free “macnocheese.” Unfortunately, those devoted patrons often found themselves scarfing tempeh ribs under dripping tents in windy winter downpours—authentic Portland, maybe, but not quite the optimal dining experience.

Now, Ridabock has found a drier home for his cooking. The brick-and-mortar Homegrown Smokehouse and Deli sits in an unassuming Goose Hollow building split with another vegan deli, Vtopia Cheese Shop, which shares Ridabock’s cruelty-free ethics and homespun tastes. A blazing fireplace keeps patrons toasty, while a deli case displays house-made “no cheese” sauce, baked beans, and chili mac packaged to go. But it’s the sliced “schmeats”—deftly seasoned soy curls, tempeh, and seitan, smoked in-house for hours over applewood chips—that we can’t stop coming back for, either in sandwiches or taken solo.

The original cart, which is open for business at the Mississippi Marketplace pod, now uses Smokehouse as its commissary kitchen. But the restaurant also flaunts dishes that the teeny mobile galley simply doesn’t have room for. Expect subs stacked with house-made “be-IF,” “psstrami,” and maple ginger “h-yam,” lovingly layered with rich rémoulade and three types of vegan cheese. From gooey Phillies to burritos groaning with meaty soy curls and mac and cheese, this place excels at rib-sticking comfort ... even for the meat lovers among us.

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