1. OK Omens

1758 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 503-231-9939, okomens.com.

OK Omens is the delightful casual sibling to Castagna, with a menu full of sharable, value-priced gems. OK Omens calls itself a wine bar, but the vegetable dishes are the highlight.

(Thomas Teal)
(Thomas Teal)

2. Aviv

1125 SE Division St., 503-206-6280, avivpdx.com.

At this cozy, softly lit Israeli vegan spot, the food isn't "veganized." Vegetables are served as utterly decadent flavor bombs. and nothing feels like a substitution.

3. Chizu

1126 SW Alder St., 503-719-6889, chizubar.com.

This West End sushi-themed cheesery serves cider, beer, sake and wine. You can order individually from among 30 personally selected cheese varieties that change almost daily, but smart customers will just leave it to the expert by ordering omakase and choosing their price. The cheeses aren't merely good—because face it, all cheese tastes pretty good—they all have immediate and recognizable character.

(Kayla Sprint)
(Kayla Sprint)

4. TarBoush

3257 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 503-235-3277, tarboushbistro.com.

TarBoush may be a touch pricier than your average Lebanese restaurant, but it's oh so worth it for some of the best bamyeh okra stew in town, unctuous yet light, and ultra-tender stuffed grape leaves, garnished with pomegranate molasses for an earthy-sweet contrast.

(Liz Allan)
(Liz Allan)

5. Spring

3975 SW 114th Ave., Beaverton, 503-641-3670.

If you really want to go off the beaten path for Valentine's Day, head out to Beaverton for Korean food at Spring. Hidden away above a ramshackle G-Mart grocery store that looks as if it might have held a bowling alley in a previous life, bare-bones Spring feels like a secret—an exclusive club that requires a password to enter. The novelty would be reason enough to come. But then you tuck into a steaming bowl of the sujebi and realize it's also some of the finest Korean food anywhere near Portland and well worth the trek.