Restaurant Openings

Homegrown Smoker Opens Vegan Barbecue Restaurant in St. Johns

Head to the former Proper Eats space for seitan burgers, mac-'n'-cheese burritos, and tofu fish and chips.

By Tuck Woodstock July 7, 2017

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The new Blackened Blue burger features a seitan-veggie-soy curl patty topped with sliced seitan "h'yam," vegan cheese, Cajun seasoning, blue cheese dressing, greens, tomato, and chow chow. 

It’s been a hell of a month for Homegrown Smoker. First, the vegan-famous local eatery shuttered its brick-and-mortar deli, Homegrown Smokehouse, leaving only its food cart location at Mississippi Marketplace. Just days later, on June 22, an apparent gas fire destroyed the bright green cart, forcing it to close indefinitely. But all is not lost for fans of smoked “schmeats”—as of July 6, Homegrown Smoker is now a brick-and-mortar restaurant in St. Johns, serving an expanded menu filled with meaty (yet 100 percent plant-based) burgers, burritos, sandwiches, and sides.

As Portland Monthly first reported back in April, Homegrown Smoker took over the space of fellow Portland vegan stalwart Proper Eats, which closed this spring after more than a decade in business. (Fittingly, Proper Eats is the first place where Homegrown Smoker founder Jeff Ridabock began to enjoy and appreciate vegan cuisine, according to daughter Clara Ridabock.) Ridabock has added his own touches to the building, including a large exterior mural, but overall, the space feels largely the same: modest, laid-back, and filled with herbivores grateful to have a place to eat in St. Johns.

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A mural adorns the side of Homegrown Smoker in St. Johns, complete with a depiction of the green Homegrown Smoker food cart. 

The counter-service eatery offers a larger array of dishes than either of Homegrown Smoker’s previous two locations. A sprawling menu includes classics like the pulled pork-esque SloSmoMoFo and tempeh ribs plate, plus plenty of new favorites—think grits bowls, buffalo “thwings,” and nori-breaded fish and chips. Want to try it all? Order a combo plate featuring your choice of two smoked proteins (soy curls, Beyond Meat chicken, housemade seitan “hyam,” and more) plus hush puppies, remoulade, and two sides.

The restaurant features 50 indoor seats and 15 outdoor seats—a far cry from Homegrown’s original iteration in a pop-up tent on Northeast Alberta Street in 2008. “Everything was still so new then—seitan was not great, soy proteins were limited, people thought veganism was crazy,” says Clara Ridabock. “Homegrown had a lot of days where we'd sell $40 of food. Or zero dollars of food. It was a really hard sell in the beginning.”

These days, of course, Homegrown Smoker boasts 22,600 Instagram followers and has reached icon status for vegan foodies nationwide. Try it for yourself Wednesday through Sunday at 8638 N Lombard—just don’t forget to come back in a month or two, when Homegrown debuts its much-anticipated brunch menu.

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