Oct 31, 2013

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Cafe Hibiscus

Cafe Hibiscus

Oh my gosh, where do I start. Maybe with a story…

It was May of 2012, and my family had been through a couple of months of hell. Without going too deeply into the drama, we had just lost in court and had been evicted for the first time in our life (not because we didn’t pay our rent!). Roommates who we bent over backwards to be nice to and help out took advantage of our hospitality and seemed to find great pleasure in telling our landlord – and a judge – lies about us and how we lived. Our landlord created false documents to “prove” events that had never happened. We had to pack up a house we had lived in for over four years in four days. It was awful.

Thankfully, we have a community that cares for us, so we didn’t end up on the street. One friend allowed us to spend the next two nights recovering in their amazing home, and then another was magically going to be out of the country for the next 10 days and needed a dog-sitter. We ended up having somewhere to call home for a couple of weeks while we figured stuff out. It was the most intense time in my life since my divorce and custody battle over a decade ago.

You might be wondering, “what does that have to do with a restaurant?” Well, needless to say, I was very stressed! I ended up in the emergency room twice during the weekend of our move (which, ironically was Mother’s Day weekend), and was having a hard time even thinking about eating food. I lost so much weight that I was able to fit into a pair of jeans that I never thought I’d fit into (a friend wouldn’t believe my pant size and bought them a size too small – in the closet they sat for nearly 5 years!). Hunger had left the building.

The home we stayed in while dog-sitting (and figuring out where we were going to live) was in the sweet North East Portland neighborhood, really close to NE Alberta St. Our first night there, still feeling beat and weary, we used google maps to find a place to eat close by. It led us to what is now one of my favorite restaurants: Cafe Hibiscus.

I would love to tell you all the different items on their menu and my experience with them, but I have to be really honest here: I have only ever ordered one menu item. And that menu item, my dear friends, is the amazing Roast Chicken Breast Sandwich (I really wish they had the chicken as an entrĂ©e, but I’ll just have to take the sandwich!). It is so good, so fantastic, so delicious, that I literally cannot force myself to order something different. Even sitting here typing about it, my mouth is watering. The flavors they manage to get in that chicken breast work so well together, and it is always super-tender. And they give you fresh bread to dip in their swiss dressing, which is also a favorite (I actually have them hold the mayo and put it on my sandwich).

On that stressful day last May (hey – that rhymed!) I found myself hungry for the first time in months after that first bite. My husband, who had been worried about me, was so happy to see me finally eating and actually enjoying my food. My body began to relax as it got the nourishment it had been lacking. Ahhhh.

To top it all off, the people who own the place and work there are super as well. I met the Mom of the owner that day, who was in town, and she treated us like part of the family. They even make a special bun for my son who likes their frankfurter, but not by itself. Every time I go in, they greet me by name and chat to me like an old friend. I cannot say enough good things about Cafe Hibiscus.

My only complaint is that they aren’t open Sundays, because I would love to head over there after Sunday Service some time. I suppose, though, that the fabulous chef/owner and servers need a break, too. I am just so thankful this place exists. Whenever I am in that part of town during lunch or dinner (not on a Monday or Sunday), I find myself there, salivating over herbed chicken. Yum!!

When you go in, make sure to tell them Starr sent you. And always check their hours online first (you can visit their website by clicking their name).

Cafe Hibiscus
4950 NE 14th. Ave
Portland, OR 97211
(503) 477-9224


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