I used to buy them gifts, and while I am sure they appreciated my efforts, they have most things that they need and hauling a bunch of stuff back to San Francisco seemed silly and cumbersome.
I always like taking people out for special occasions, since Portland is chock full of awesome ethnic restaurants and an amazing gourmet food scene, but my stepfather is a sort of old school meat and potatoes kind of person, so it was always a little tricky, until my mother took his mother on a tour of Greece and she won him over to moussaka!
I was turned on to this fabulous place my sophomore year of high school, when we went on a field trip with the Western Civ class.
In my teens and all through my 20's I requested all of my birthday dinners be at Alexis.
It is located in a fairly sketchy part of town, but within walking distance of their hotel, so it works out well.
They are very brave and long suffering with all of my demands of going to sketchy parts of town.
My mother and stepfather were mugged during a visit to me for my college graduation, which is unheard of in Portland, people simply do not get mugged... so it is a running joke, that I will ask them to venture into unsavory parts of town at night.
They have had my two children plus my brother's two, in a hotel suite, since Saturday, so it was the least I could do to get dinner!