Gift Guide

Valentine's Gift Guide: Last-Minute Presents to Find Close to Home

Ideas for your sweetie from every Portland quadrant, from vegan doughnuts in Hollywood to pain pillows in Multnomah Village to hand hooks in the Pearl

By Margaret Seiler February 10, 2023

Are you running out of time to show that someone special (and that someone could be yourself, of course, as everyone living in Lizzo's America knows) how much you care? Don't have the time or the gas money or the bus fare go too far afield? Are you still reeling from Build-a-Bear's 2022 "Adult" line and just need someone, anyone, to give you some other ideas. Friends, we have the hyperlocal gift guide for you, with finds from every quadrant.


The Flavour Spot's signature "Dutch tacos" stuffed with sausage patties and dripping with maple butter, would make a lovely gift from this beloved waffle cart (which recently relocated to the parking lot of Western Meat Company, just west of Columbia Park on N Lombard). But if your love can't get out of bed during the limited winter hours of 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Friday to Monday, the cart also sells branded mugs. 

If your sweetie loves cats, or if you are your cat's Valentine (hey, we won't ask), GiftyKitty on N Mississippi has woolen kitty pen cozies from Nepal, "Purrtland, Oregon" stickers and totes, cat-shaped ceramic planters, and more. 

Nothing says "Let's stay inside" like Peanuts characters Lucy and Linus staring out a window at the rain on the front of a T-shirt at Worn Path, few blocks north on Mississippi. Just ignore the fact that they're siblings if you're getting it for your beloved. 


Hollywood Theatre

Image: Michael Novak

Even if you don't live in Hollywood, the confluence of buses and MAX lines and interstate exits might still make it almost home for many east-siders. Land there, and start shopping. A long box of luscious vegan Doe Donuts and a sassy shop T-shirt will mean all the more because you probably had to wait in line a while to get them.

There's always a surprise to find in the oddball DVDs that have ended up at the Dollar Tree (why, we wondered on a recent visit, are there seven copies of Richard Linklater's Boyhood?), and a nearby aisle yields the gift bags and tissue paper for all your wrapping needs. For a grander cinematic experience, though, nothing solidifies a relationship like going "dual" on a membership to the nonprofit Hollywood Theatre, which offers discount tickets and deals at the affiliated Movie Madness. Splurge on a high-level membership and enjoy reserved primo seats at the 1926 movie palace's special 70 mm screenings—the promise of many date nights to come. 


Los Puñales

Image: Michael Novak

If your love language is tacos, a gift card to Taqueria Los Puñales on SE Belmont Street may be just what you need. Across the street, pop into H Mart to pick up moisturizing face masks and enough frozen mochi balls to spell out something naughty on the kitchen table. 

Just up the street, take your Valentine out for an afternoon of Skee-Ball and Strike-a-Light at the Avalon Wunderland arcade, and then use your victory points to let them pick out the perfect cheap, plastic gift at the prize counter. 


Portland's sixth quadrant isn't exactly a shopping mecca, unless you're on the hunt for a used or new kayak or stand-up paddleboard, in which case Portland Kayak Co and Gorge Performance on S Macadam Avenue have you covered. Take your dumpling shopping to pick out their own, and then stop to eat some of Portland's best soup dumplings at Szechuan Chef. (But don't try this on Valentine's Day itself, as both the restaurant and Portland Kayak are closed Tuesdays.)


The quaint main drag of Multnomah Village is a one-stop Valentine shop. At Annie Bloom's Books, pick up a pocket-size copy of The Year I Stopped to Notice, one of the less annoying entries in the Twitter-account-turned-book genre, and a blank book to fill with similar musings. Or go gamer with a roll-up Pendleton travel backgammon set.   

A few doors down, spend a whopping $4 (cash only!) on a placement with a map of the US on one side and an illustrated map of Oregon on the other at Fat City Café, or splurge on a pair so you and your dearie can gaze upon both sides at once.

Just up the street at the Multnomah Arts Center, browse one-of-a-kind gifts in the display case full of wares from Portland Parks facility's instructors, from Sandra Oberdorfer's mini-altars to Mari Paulus's "Pain Pillows," which are not—I repeat, not—sex toys, but lavender-scented, rice-filled sachets to heat or freeze and apply to sore spots.


It's hard to walk away from Slabtown's Yo Store empty-handed, whether you go low-key with some fancy Spanish lip balm and Olio e Osso local perfume, embrace the holiday theme with a wooden spoon with a heart cutout in it, or splurge on a potentially terrifying handmade bear or some silver or gold jewelry.

Add a permanent "come hither" vibe to you home with a "C'mer" hand hook from Cult, or opt for one of the less bossy hand hooks in artist Harry Allen's collection from the Pearl District gift shop/gallery.