Road Trip Part IV: Hagerstown, Maryland

If you’re following along on our recent road trip…

We’re already to the last leg* of our trip!  We spent a day visiting Gettysburg with Erik’s parents.  Erik, as I mentioned before, is fascinated with American history.  He grew up visiting Gettysburg fairly often with his father and brother, so he was excited to return and show me around.  The visitor center/museum is incredible, and the terrain is gorgeous.  I’m so glad we went, but as you might expect, walking along the battlefields was quite a harrowing experience.


As the evening approached, we split ways with his parents so that they could return to Lancaster, while we moved on to Hagerstown, Maryland, where Erik lived until he was nine.  When Erik moved to KC in 2002, he became friends with a couple that eventually moved to Hagerstown.  Get this:  they now live in the same house he did as a child!  And we stayed there!

In addition to getting the grand tour of his childhood home and city, we enjoyed an absolutely fantastic meal at, of all places, a local barbeque joint.  Hempen Hill BBQ is owned by a husband and wife team.  The wife, Kathy, is vegetarian, so a number of veg-friendly items grace their everyday menu (and they proudly participate in Meatless Mondays, too).  We got to chat with Kathy for a few minutes, and she was so kind and filled us in on her recommendations.

Hempen Hill BBQ - Hagerstown, Maryland

Hempen Hill offers a vegan chicken, which they call “vicken,” and you can easily veganize a number of their sandwiches or salads by replacing the meat with vicken and omitting any cheese.  Erik opted for the Pit Cheese(-less) Steak.  It came with roasted onions and peppers and vicken strips on a Milano roll.  The flavor and the texture of the vicken was great, and he found the sandwich to be very satisfying.  And the sweet potato fries that came with it?  The best.

Pit Cheese Steak Sandwich (Hold the Cheese) - Hempen Hill BBQ - Hagerstown, MD

I went the un-barbeque route and ordered the Smoked Tofu, a gluten-free dish that has a smoky tofu tossed “with a medley of bell pepper strips, carrots, onions & broccoli, nestled on a bed of rice noodles, finished off with a spicy thai peanut-chili sauce.”  This is not your average noodle bowl.  The tofu was cooked beautifully, as were the lightly sautéed veggies, and the flavorful, spicy sauce brought it all together perfectly.  I savored every last bite, both at dinner and at breakfast the next morning, when I finished the leftovers.

Smoked Tofu - Hempen Hill BBQ - Hagerstown, MD

As a side note, when we walked in, we saw signs for Boulevard.  They started selling it about a week before we arrived – we were surprised and thrilled to have a taste of home so far away!

Hempen Hill BBQ is located at 13208 Fountain Head Plaza, Hagerstown, Maryland.

And that, my friends, concludes our road trip tour of vegan eats (and tiny glimpse into the site-seeing we did) — thanks for hanging in there!  We truly had a blast and cherish the memories made and time spent with family and friends…but there’s no place like home, and we are happy to be back.

Coming up next, I have a few tips for eating vegan and eating well while traveling, and next week we’ll return to our normal schedule.

* The last leg of the trip was actually Chicago, where we stayed a few days with family.  While we had hoped to visit the city and check out some restaurants, due to the costly car troubles we experienced on our last day in Pennsylvania, we opted instead to take it easy and make our own meals.  Chicago is a fantastic city for vegan fare though, and if you’re interested, you can read about our last trip to Chicago here.



  1. Molly says

    The smoked tofu looks fantastic! You won’t see anything like that at any BBQ joints where I live. How’d you think to go there?

  2. says

    Sounds like an awesome trip. Its so cool to see vegan options coming up in all sorts of places, making life a bit easier! that tofu looks delicious. and if not anything else, i ‘d eat a bunch of orders or sweet potato fries:)

    • says

      It’s nice to watch restaurants expand their menus to include more veg-friendly fare, and I love finding wonderful vegan options at unexpected places. PS. I’m always up for a meal of sweet potato fries :)

  3. says

    Stumbled on this place (Hempen Hill) when passing through. And it was simply outstanding. Beans pretty spicy. Heavens for BBQ! I often daydream about their smoked tofu and I wish that I could eat it every day.


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