What We Ate: Portland Restaurants and Failure Piles

You guys, it’s been a week, but we ate our way through it and came out the other side intact, thanks to some of my favorite Portland restaurants and one not-so-favorite national chain.


On Tuesday I was getting jazzed up for some serious cookery at the Portland Culinary Workshop, when I suddenly got all woozy and decided to go outside to get some air. Next thing I know, I’m waking up on the pavement with a ferocious buzzing in my ears and some dude letting his dog sniff my hair as he walks by. Special shout out to the unique apathy bred by living in a city with a serious homelessness problem!

I left the class and drove my hurting ass (actually: head) home for leftover Indian and snuggles from the dogs.


So the cooking class was a bust. On Wednesday, the hubs and I decided to nurse the raging bump on my head with some sushi and sake at Zilla. I think Zilla does the classics better than almost anyone in Portland, and their sake supply is life changing. They don’t always have the most interesting fish (WHERE IS THE MACKEREL FOR F**K’S SAKE?) and they aren’t out there innovating, but what they do they do well.


On Thursday, I gave into years of Patton Oswalt’s KFC Famous Bowl “failure pile” sketch bumping around in my head. I’ve never eaten one before because A: I rarely do the fast food thing and B: it has always seemed more appealing as a concept than an actual meal. Anyway, I opted for the spicy Famous Bowl and, IDK, I kinda wish I’d left it in the realm of possibility. I’m down with having my food piled into a bowl (or a lunch gun!), but this did ring of “failure pile in a sadness bowl” as a dipped my spork into the soft, limp chicken and cold potatoes.

Let’s just say I didn’t feel like a better person for having eaten it.


On Friday, my leg started going numb and my foot got weak to the point where I couldn’t lift it, so I spent the night in the ER. Turns out, I probably just wrenched my back and inflamed a disk when I collapsed, so NOT BRAIN CANCER, which was my first thought. And second.


Finally, we stopped in at one of my favorite downtown Portland restaurants: Habibi.

We first stumbled into this place because it was next to Nordstroms and I was famished. Proximity + hunger has equaled many happy accidents. Habibi is Lebanese and the decor is more shabby than chic, but the food will knock you on your ass. The bread comes warm out of the oven and it is everything. The hummus is housemade and has that creamy, citrusy magic that gets lost in the pre-made stuff, all under a drizzle of warm olive oil that gives it a fruity finish.

I always get a lentil soup even though I rarely have room for it because the earthy legumes simmered in spice and garlic are always worth loosening the pants for.

Hubs and I shared the lamb shank, and the meat was falling off the bone into a broth that nearly brought me to tears with its complex layers of spices. So the week wasn’t a total bust.


The result is that on Sunday I need a comfort food of the first order, so I made crab dip with mushrooms and leeks and it was just what I needed. I’ll post the recipe later this week.

UPDATE: (Ok, next week, but here it is!)

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