Smokehouse 21, the barbecue and smoked-meats spot on NW 21st by Portland restaurateur and this season’s Top Chef contestant BJ Smith, will close November 23 — only to reopen as the second location of Kim Jong Smokehouse on December 1. Smith teamed up with Earl Ninsom (PaaDee, Langbaan) and Kim Jong Grillin’s Han Ly Hwang to open the first Kim Jong Smokehouse just a wee month ago inside Pine Street Market.
Speaking with Eater, Smith says the second Kim Jong Smokehouse will stay true to the original location: a fast-casual counter-service spot serving bibimbap and steamed buns stuffed with smoked meats for lunch and dinner seven days a week. ”Honestly if we could just copy and paste it, we’d do it,” says Smith. But it will add one dish in honor of its former incarnation: a pulled pork sandwich with kimchi.
Smokehouse 21 was Smith’s first restaurant, opened in 2011 — he’s since founded Smokehouse Tavern and Smokehouse Provisions — and you have one big reason to visit Smokehouse 21 before it closes: $5 pulled pork sandwiches all November long.
“It’s kinda bittersweet,” says Smith. “Smokehouse 21 definitely paved the road for me. I always thought it’d be around for 20 years. I think most people have chosen to go to the Tavern.” Indeed, hardcore fans of Smokehouse 21 can can still cross the river to find most of its menu at Smokehouse Tavern.
Asked why he decided to switch things up, Smith said it had a lot to do with the venue’s space constraints but also because he’s grown as a chef. “When I opened Smokehouse 21 five years ago, it had a charm to it because I was stepping away from 20 years of fine dining. It had a special energy then. Now when I look at the level my other restaurants are at— I want to make sure I’m super proud of everything I’m putting out.”