Homegrown Smoker Vegan BBQ cart

Updated 4/16/2010 – Homegrown Smoker has moved to SW 4th and College by PSU.  They are now open for business! Check out the new menu here. BBQ Nachos, anyone? SloSmoMoFo? Chicken Fried Steak?

I went for lunch today, and have to say that the creamy mac nocheese, in particular, was killer – the best version yet!  All the old favorites are still on the menu, with the additions of a many versatile options – including gravy smothered breakfasts, greens, and sweet potato fries!

They’re already drawing quite a new following on the crowded cart block.

Classic Combo:

Homegrown Smoker

The shiny new cart:

HoGroSmo

Updated 10/27/2009 New hours from their twitter: NEW HOURS: Thursday-Saturday 12-7 Sunday 12-5 Closed Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday.

Updated 10/6/2009 The cart has moved to NE 27th and Alberta, and now has wood fire heated seating!

Updated 8/24/2009 – Gluten free news! From their Facebook:
Homegrown Smoker: Well the cornbread recipe is done as we all like it. Gluten Free now and made with Cornmeal, Flax and Maple. Beginning Thursday our Chronic Tempeh Ribs will also be Gluten Free. All GF menu items: Beans, slaw, Cornbread, ribs, sauces, soy curls & tofu Soon to be GF Frito Pie!

Homegrown Smoker Vegan BBQ Brief Review
Overall Service Food Quality Atmosphere Vegan Options
9.5 10 8.5 9 10
Location: NE Alberta and NE 27th
Hours: Thurs-Sat Noon-7pm, Sun Noon-5pm Times Visited: 4

~

The Homegrown Smoker Vegan BBQ has been scientifically proven as a reason I venture out of my nook in SE Portland to Alberta Street.

If you are lucky to have vegan family in Portland, this is where you should take them. This is a memory-making, happy family picnic’s dream food. Sorry for getting all sappy, but I’m so proud of them! Yet I barely know them! It’s a heart warming operation, that is family-based itself.  I know the young staff is clearly older than I go on about; there’s simply this older sister in me who has siblings across the country who wants to hug them and thank them for being vegan and doing this. Just imagine your younger siblings making vegan food!

This is how I feel going to the Homegrown Smoker open cart on Alberta Street.  They’ve taken up residence in a spacious corner lot with the even newer Open Heart Cafe, and have their smoker, ordering station, and picnic tables just waiting for you to wander by for vegan home cooking. They’re part of this new trend of carts like The Grilled Cheese Grill and Wolf and Bears, who have vast amounts of property and specialty seating areas, in comparison to the packed downtown cart blocks.

Their menu features four primary home smoked vegan proteins: BBQ Chronic Tempeh, Extra Firm Tofu, Smokey Soy Curls, and Field Roast Chorizo. All involve the smooth, tangy Kansas City style BBQ sauce, the perfect example of the staple BBQ sauce you want in your fridge, but better.  The father of some of the staff has a true passion for BBQ, and you can taste it.  The first item I tried was the BBQ Chronic Tempeh.  A couple of my friends say that it could use some additional roasting or grilling, but I love some soy bean and am down with the straight up, nutty, smokey sauce-smothered strip.

Whenever someone has mentioned HGS to me since they’ve opened, I find myself raving about the Smokey Soy Curls.  I’ve visited four times, and every time, they’ve found their way into the combo I’ve shared. Anyone who knows the trick, the importance, of the soy curl marinade, can respect these. The smokey flavor thrives in these tender pieces.

HGS added tofu to their menu due to public demand, and that’s rad. Unfortunately, I must say that the dense super firm tofu is almost too much for the coat of sauce.  The Field Roast Chorizo is store bought, but I think it’s one of the best of the best fakes, texture and flavor wise..  The smoking tops that, and it is the most practical protein, size wise, to order in a sandwich ($6). But brace yourself: I suggest you skip the sandwiches of folded pita, smoked protein, sausages, and peppers altogether.  They’re greatly overshadowed by the combos. That is unless you’re there for the revolutionary Macnochito ($6), a burrito of macaroni and cheese, soy curls, beans, peppers, onions, chorizo, and sauce. I was impressed when I saw someone ordering it!

One combo ($8) is enough to split with a friend for a small meal, one large appetite or for one with a portion of leftovers to take home. Pick two of the smoked vegan proteins and your choice of two sides. All combos come with a square of the moist molasses cornbread. The sides include the creamy chipotle coleslaw, sweet and smokey BBQ white beans, and the macaroni and cheese consisting of classic elbows in a semi-thick nutritional yeast sauce. My vote to best complement the protein goes to the macaroni and cheese and adding a side of corn on the cob for $1 extra ($2 as a separate item).  If you like corn, you must.  The ear of corn is once again, memorably smoked, and rubbed with the HGS custom seasoning blend. The beans are whole and the sauce sure is sweet, but there’s enough sweet and smokey elements in a combo.  Keep them in mind if you’re only there for sides.

There is a bottle of homemade Mellow Yellow mustard based hot sauce on the counter that was recommended for the mac and really works with it. The mac itself is like the first version of the vegan, nutritional yeasty tradition you refine and makes its way into the vegan potluck repertoire. I tried it on opening day and it was dry, but since then it’s really improved and come into its own.

Sticking with the family BBQ theme, they offer homemade lemonade, sweet tea, and the ever- popular Jarritos soda. The tea is refreshing, but hell yeah, tamarindo! I’ve yet to indulge, but you can complete your meal with Clara’s daily desserts. These have included fresh baked cookies and brownies.

Finish your leisurely meal  with another round of conversation at the picnic tables, because unless it’s Last Thursday, this cart hasn’t seemed to yet attract the foot traffic it deserves.  If I lived in the Alberta neighborhood, it would be on my mind for speedy, righteous take out and long lunches, no doubt.  It’s not a sit down dinner– this is a casual affair and comfort food.  I’m noticeably a fan of the whole package HGS encompasses and offers:  It’s really good food, and their soy curls and corn are fabulous.

Combo with Tempeh and Soy Curls

BBQ Chronic Tempeh

Above Photos by Lucas DeShazer
Smoked Corn

corn

Combo with Tofu and Soy Curls

homegrown smoker

Iced Tea

alberta

Menu

alberta

Homegrown Smoker on Urbanspoon

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17 responses to “Homegrown Smoker Vegan BBQ cart

  1. omg even though I live in the ‘burbs, I’ll be on Alberta today to go to my cello lesson, and I’m TOTALLY going to have lunch here! Thanks again for rocking my vegan world, stumptown vegan goddesses! <3

  2. Man, where was all this great vegan cart action on Alberta when my girlfriend lived at 24th & Alberta? Gotta get up there soon. . .

  3. this was the last place i hit up before i ended my first (and certainly not last) visit to portland and, MAN, am i glad i made a point to do so.

    i couldn’t agree more on all counts: the food is awesome and the cart guy who served me was super swell. i’ll return to NYC with fond mouthwatery memories of the delicious mix of mac/no-cheese, cole slaw & bbq tempeh ribs i got from the smoker.

    if i wasn’t already planning a return trip, the bbq cart would have spurred me to start. LOVE!

  4. I just tried this place last Friday for dinner around 6pm. When I’m in that area I usually go to Vita Cafe. Boy am I glad I tried Homegrown Smoker. I got the Combo with Tempeh and Soy Curls, mac-no-cheese, beans and maple cornbread. All was delicious! From the pic of the corn I’m looking forward to trying that! Had nice friendly talk with owner and he said he’ll be in that spot for about another month cause it’s not a good lot for wintertime. He is looking at place catycorner across the street for a possible restaurant and then serving comfort food! If I had brought more money I would of tried the mint tea and the desert.

  5. Tried it for the first time last night at Last Thursday. I also went for the “ribs”/soy curls. Wow. It’s a little expensive (for cart food), but damn is it good.

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  8. I like hippies, to a point. And I think weed is pretty A-OK…. but two things I absolutely can’t stand, are hippy culture, and even more, weed culture. This cart seems to be knee-deep in both. That being said, if the food is THAT good. perhaps I’ll eat there when I ever make my way back to Portland.

  9. I tried this cart for the first time yesterday, and it was REALLY good, in spite of two problems.

    1) They got my order wrong – I got greens instead of mac when I ordered my combo. It’s cool, though, they were super good and probably better for me considering that I had the sweet potato fries (perfectly fresh, by the by).

    2) The tempeh in my meal was cold. It appears they attempted to warm it up, because it wasn’t totally cold, but I think it ought to have been warmer.

    But, the portions were great, the food was tasty, and I gorged myself on it and didn’t need to eat for HOURS. The meatloaf was especially nummy. And I will totally go back to get that Mac! I can’t wait!

  10. Hi All,
    Just a few updates. First and foremost, thanks coming out and supporting us.
    We brought back the molasses cornbread this year cause Jess likes it all molassesey! *and we agree.)
    We now have a firm grip on using the new smoker and the flavors are closer to last years despite not being able to locate and Maple.
    We have changed the Greens to Collards and we think they are better than Kale. Kale is no slouch, but does not hold well.
    We have a fryer this year and are having fun with it.
    The Sweet Fries are better, though no one will ever have a crisp one!
    We are featuring deep fried Oreos at the moment, coated in a coconut batter.
    If you have not tried some of the new items you are missing out.
    The Chili Dawg is huge and smokely delicious!
    Try a Frito pie but sub Chili for a buck more, Same goes for the Macnocheeto!
    We featured our home made Gluten Pastrami today and got great feedback “Best Vegan Reuben in Town!” this will be featured pretty regularly.
    Different specials everyday, today we batter fried a Twilight Bar and man o man, dingdangdelicious! Though some what cost prohibitive.
    I am currently working on my Howard Johnsons inspired Fried “Clam” Sandwich to honor my New England Roots.
    Kelly, Apologies for the chilly tempeh and screwy order! Come down and get some Oreos on me!
    Again thanks all for coming out. We are really excited to be open and serving you!
    Jeff, Jared, Clara and Diana (Alex, Elise and Marissa)

    • Thanks for the updates!

      I wasn’t sure if the cornbread was gluten free or molasses-y now, good to know! I really liked the soft, molasses tinged one you guys had last summer. Looking forward to trying more, along with the rest of Portland!

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