6 Things to Do in Portland, Oregon
Portland is at once small town and urban center, rugged yet elegant, zany yet sincere. It blends self-awareness and entrepreneurial grit with a happy-go-lucky sense of fun. Oregon’s biggest small city (the population is under 65,000) has become a focal point in past years for its culinary scene, its vibrant makers’ community, and its quick growth as a city. It often gets high ratings when it comes to quality of life, thanks in no small part to its incredible dining, its many bike paths, and its proximity to gorgeous outdoor landscapes. You could dedicate a week to just eating or just drinking or just hiking and biking, but if you want to get a taste of it all, here are a few ideas for how to navigate this bastion of Pacific Northwest cool.
1. Coffee City
Portland's coffee house culture is easily one of the country's best known. (Liza Weisstuch)
Seattle has Starbucks, San Francisco has Blue Bottle, and Portland has Stumptown—and, well, everything else. (Little-known fact: Portland was home to the first Starbucks outside Seattle, which opened in 1989.) It’s estimated that Portlandians individually consume 26 pounds of coffee annually and there are more than 60 people or companies roasting coffee within the city limits. And that’s to say nothing of the beans' journey to get to Oregon. Lora Woodruff, founder and tour guide of Third Wave Coffee Tours (thirdwavecoffeetours.com), says that coffee goes through up to 15 sets of hands before it arrives in your cup. That’s just one of the incredible facts I learned on her tour, which hits five coffee houses and roasters over three caffeine-fueled hours. The morning is a triple-shot dose of coffee knowledge: Lora and the baristas and roasters along the way go through the basics of Fair Trade sourcing, the different qualities that various growth elevations impart on the beans, the physics of the pour-over, the chemistry of roasting, what it takes to be a competition-winning barista, and the steps a coffee judge takes to hone her palate. Between that, a workshop in cupping (the professional method for tasting coffee), and the many samples at every stop, the tour is eye-opening in all sorts of ways.
2. Craft Beer Is Everywhere
Cascade Brewing Barrel House is famous for its various sour beers. (Liza Weisstuch)
Around the mid-1980s, before every bar and restaurant boasted of having “craft beer” on tap and the term wasn't as common as “sparkling wine” or “London dry gin,” Portland wasn’t simply a city with lots of breweries making beers on a small scale. It was building the groundwork for the craft-beer movement, which only seems to gain momentum as the years go by. Back when most Americans were knocking back Miller Lite and Budweiser, creative brewers in Oregon knew there was much more to beer than watery lagers. Many call 1984 the starting point. That's when BridgePort Brewing started cooking up uncommon beers, and its IPA remains a staple around the city. Widmer Brothers followed fast on its heels, making its name with its Hefeweizen, still an essential on many local taps. Both have come a long way, and visits to their breweries offer more experimental brews that show it. McMenamins is further proof that Portland is ground zero for the craft-beer movement. Since opening its first brewpub in 1985, the company has expanded to more than 65 locations around Oregon and Washington, each of which dispenses longtime cult favorites alongside one-off special releases. With dozens of breweries within the city limits—and that’s to say nothing of beer bars—you could easily spend a week here just on a beer crawl. Locals know this, so some have started companies to help navigate the scene—and the vocabulary. With more breweries continually cropping up, beer-makers are increasingly trying new styles to differentiate themselves, so brewery or pub visits will give you options like Bavarian helles (check out the ones from Wayfinder Beer) and hazy IPAs from Great Notion Brewing. If you’re one of the increasing number of beer drinkers who’s found a new calling with sour beers, Cascade Brew House is your Shangri-La. Just look out for the ones the bartenders describes as "jaw-rattling."
3. Scary Fun at the Peculiarium
Upon arriving at the Freakybuttrue Peculiarium and Museum (peculiarium.com), a modest storefront on a quiet Nob Hill street lined with nondescript shops, a large beer store/bar, and triple-story homes, I realized that the most peculiar thing about it is how few locals seem to know it exists. On my walk over, I asked directions a few times and got blank stares in return. One bearded young man thought it was a beer bar he hadn’t heard of. This is particularly astonishing given that creepy set pieces—an old man slouched over in a wheelchair, a zombie of some sort—greet you on the sidewalk. The compact museum is a repository of bizarre, hair-raising stuff including, but not limited to a towering life-size Big Foot, all sorts of ghastly monsters (and yes, you can even sit on a lap or two for a photo), a grisly interactive alien heist scene, and the most elaborate, epic, blood-splattered mini crime scene you’d ever imagine could fit inside in a dollhouse. There are also original character models and assorted props from classic horror films. The stuffed-to-the-brim museum features everything a freak-show fanatic needs to enhance their collection of bizarre bric-a-brac: insect candies, macabre oil paintings and other artwork, comic books, and plenty more, including pieces from an artist and special-effects pro who worked on Mars Attacks and other Tim Burton flicks. Admission is free, but it might cost you a few nights of restful sleep.
4. Take a Tranquil Walk in the Japanese Garden
The Portland Japanese Garden showcases five different garden styles.(Nyker1/Dreamstime)
Spread out over 12.4 acres, the Portland Japanese Garden (japanesegarden.org) is said to be the most authentic outside of Japan, and it's a marvel for many reasons, the fact that it's made up of five distinct garden styles not least among them. You could easily spend hours moseying about the flat garden, the strolling garden pond, the tea garden, the natural garden, and the sand and stone garden. Each area is distinct and a work of art in its own right. More than just landscape design, each garden has a sculptural element to it. (Tours are available year-round, but it’s recommended to check the schedule before you visit, as they’re subject to volunteers' availability.) Away from the rush of the city, it's easy to get lost gazing at the trees, moss, fountains, bridges, and stone arrangements, but there's actually more to do. Once you’ve hiked up the main hill, there’s a collection of traditional buildings known as the Cultural Village. It’s made up of a cultural center, where demonstrations of traditional Japanese rituals are performed, a gallery that houses shows focused on design, and the Umami Café, which serves small bites and green tea. Try to make a day of it. Rushing through a visit here defeats the whole purpose. I left feeling like I’d just spent hours at a spa. A spa for the soul.
5. Make Time for Tea
Steven Smith Teamaker's Southeast Tasting Room offers all the company's teas, which is bagged on the premises. (Liza Weisstuch)
There are other ways to enjoy tea after your visit to the Japanese Garden's cafe. The Steven Smith Teamaker Southeast Tasting Room (smithtea.com/pages/locations), which sits on a nondescript stretch of the Central Eastside Industrial District, is also the factory of this locally based tea company. With Persian-style carpets, handsome furniture, and small Asian sculptures spread about, the space is a comfy, easygoing sanctuary in an refurbished industrial building. Sit at the bar, order a sampler, and watch as the various leaves and flowers, which arrive by the sack from far-flung corners of the world, are blended and sealed in teabags. Body, mouthfeel, and acidity are just a few of the qualities that the baristas here encourage you to consider as you taste through their various offerings. They'll explain how the current blender travels the world to inspect the ingredients at the source and why hibiscus is considered the cabernet of tea, amid other neat insider tidbits. They have a retail store, so be sure to stock up.
6. Portland Saturday Market
The PSM is the largest continuously operating open-air arts and crafts market in the country. (Andreykr/Dreamstime)
The most important thing to know about the Portland Saturday Market is that as you mosey the labyrinth of stalls that make up the riverside craft bazaar, you need to be on the lookout for the Fun Police. These young men in ludicrously ill-fitting uniforms are armed with brightly colored toy weapons and a ticket pad, and they will write you a citation if they see the slightest bit of boredom or gloom in your expression. Also, they will also happily pose for a selfie if you ask them. Thing is, it’s hard to be bummed out when you’re surrounded by all manner of beautiful hand-crafted art, edibles, and curios; plus, the variety of food stands and engaging street performers do their part in keeping the mood up. Started in 1973 and laying claim to the title of largest continuously operating open-air arts and crafts market in the United States, the PSM is open on Saturdays and Sundays (despite its name) from March through Christmas Eve. The locally crafted wares run a dazzling gamut: baked goods, elegant handmade instruments, micro-batch cider and beer, fragrant soap, delicate pottery, intricate illustrations, clothing, jewelry, bags, belts, wraps, and more clothing and more jewelry. I made off with a paneled wraparound skirt made by a women who uses all “upcycled” fabric, a colorful, playful cape for my niece, and macaroons. I was particularly enchanted with a reserved vendor who goes by Spoonman, presiding over a wide selection of jewelry, kitchenware, clocks, and more, made of stainless-steel flatware. He was nonchalantly wearing a headband that made it look as though an ax went in one side of his skull and out the other, and offered many other versions (cleaver, scissors, arrow) as part of his inventory—perhaps typifying Portland’s “weird” factor at its most glorious.
9 Spooky Ghost Walks Across the U.S.
Halloween comes just once a year, but the spirit world never sleeps. From coast to coast, America is full of spectral sightings and unexplained phenomena, and we’ve rounded up a few of our favorite ways to take it all in. Suspend those skeptical tendencies, summon up a sense of humor, and strap in for an otherworldly ride. 1. Ohio State Reformatory Ghost Walk: Mansfield, Ohio Ohio State Reformatory (Sandra Foyt/Dreamstime) Seventy miles northeast of Columbus, in the county seat of Mansfield, the Ohio State Reformatory offers a full slate of preternatural programming, from spectral tours and ghost hunts to private courses in paranormal investigation. As the former site of the state penitentiary, the Romanesque Revival building is a fount of ghostly activity, and its two-hour evening tours cover the institution’s long, gruesome history with aplomb. (Fun fact: As the stand-in for the titular prison in 1994’s Shawshank Redemption, the Reformatory is a stop on the so-called Shawshank Trail, and it also offers a History Meets Hollywood tour for fans of the film looking for a less spooky time.) Dress warmly, as the 19th-century building isn’t heated, and be sure to book in advance, as spots fill up quickly. In October, the tour schedule is set aside in favor of a month-long haunted house, so make your Halloween plans accordingly. Guided tours are held from April to September with the occasional offering in November. $25 per person; children under the age of 13 not permitted; ohiostatereformatory.org 2. Spirited Stroll: Brooklyn, NY Green-Wood Cemetery (Elzbieta Sekowska/Dreamstime) A lush, tree-lined oasis of calm in middle of bustling Brooklyn, Green-Wood Cemetery covers 478 acres, and as the site of the first major battle of the Revolutionary War, its history is a bloody one, with nearly 400 casualties on both sides of the line. And that’s not to mention its roster of permanent residents: More than half a million dearly departed are interred here, from Jean-Michel Basquiat and Leonard Bernstein to Boss Tweed and Louis Comfort Tiffany. Wander the spirit-soaked grounds with the cemetery’s cult-favorite event, a two-and-a-half-hour, historian-led excursion that hits all the gory high notes, with a stop in the super-creepy catacombs—normally off limits—for good measure. Tours are held annually on Halloween weekend, one on Saturday and one on Sunday (weather permitting). $25 per person; green-wood.com. 3. White House Pub Tour: Washington, D.C. America's capital is arguably the capital of scandal and misconduct, so it’d be an understatement to say there are lots of skeletons in the proverbial closets of Washington D.C. Nightly Spirits’s White House Pub Tour introduces you to some of them. On the two-and-a-half-hour pub crawl, stops include three or four historic pubs and buildings. You'll get stories about the allegedly resident spirits and, well, spirits. (The drinkable kind, that is) There’s a specific beverage at each site to accompany the storytelling session. Tours take place Thursday through Saturday at 8:30 p.m. $25, not including drinks, 21-plus only; nightlyspirits.com/dc-tours/white-house-tours/ 4. Killers and Thrillers: New Orleans French Quarter, New Orleans (Wangkun Jia/Dreamstime) New Orleans—city of jazz, Mardi Gras, the two-foot drinking vessel, and voodoo. Few cities can claim a voodoo priestess as one of its primary historic personalities, but that’s just what Marie Laveau is. Her former home—and site of many legendary voodoo rituals—is just one stop on Ghost City Tours’s Hell Hath No Fury Like a Woman Scorned, one of the options that falls under the company’s Killers and Thrillers duo. This 90-minute walkabout highlights the devilish deeds of the city’s ferocious women throughout history. Another option is the company’s Killers and Thrillers West, which visits the sites where vicious crimes took place and hauntings are said to linger as reminders. Both tours are so seriously scary that they’re adults-only. Both tours take place nightly year-round; $29.95 per person, children under the age of 16 not admitted; ghostcitytours.com/new-orleans/ 5. Ghost Walk of Old Wilmington: Wilmington, North Carolina Once a fire-prone, tar-and-wood-filled community, not to mention a significant player in the slave trade, the port city of Wilmington has seen its fair share of heartache. But academic tours have you covered on that front—you won't get a serious deep-dive into the nature of such atrocities on your ghost walk. For a frothier take on historic tragedy, sign up for a ramble through the old downtown area, led by a costumed guide who customizes each excursion with stops at his or her favorite haunts (an unassuming alley, an impressive mansion, a tiny graveyard alongside a circa-1840 church) for story time. The tall tales are told in broad strokes with most of the bloody details omitted, so it’s suitable for small fry...as long as they’re not nightmare-prone. Tours are held nightly from March 1 to November 30 and on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights from December 1 to February 29. Adults, $13; seniors, students, and military, $11; children ages 6 and under, free; hauntedwilmington.com. 6. The Granbury Ghosts and Legends Tour: Granbury, Texas Everything’s bigger in Texas, including the history. And, so legend has it, the ghosts. San Antonio is getting a lot of attention this year with its various 300th anniversary celebrations, but Granbury, a historic city that doesn't tend to get as much attention as Texas’s major metropolises, should not be overlooked. The Granbury Ghosts and Legends tour is an hour-long guided walk through the historic Downtown Square, where it’s said that the spirits of notorious figures with names like the Faceless Girl and Lady and Red still roam, trapped in another dimension. The costumed guide will share all their spooky stories and more along the way, including a bit about Jesse James's connections to the town. Tours are held year-round on Friday and Saturday nights at 7:00 p.m. and 9:15 p.m.; $10 per person, $7 for kids 12; undergranburytours.com 7. Night Spirit Tour: Estes Park, Colorado The Stanley Hotel (Coljh09/Dreamstime) Its facade won’t be familiar to fans of the Kubrick masterpiece, but Colorado’s Stanley Hotel played a vital role in The Shining. After an overnight in suite 217, Stephen King was inspired to write the book upon which the film was based, and the rest, as they say, is history. Today, the century-old property remains home to an abundance of paranormal activity, and its nightly tours explore the nooks and crannies that ghosts have been known to frequent. (Be forewarned: As a disclaimer, the hotel won’t guarantee any interactions “due to the fact that spirits are not on payroll.”) For a more in-depth experience, check into one of the “Spirited” rooms, a collection of quarters—including the suite where King laid his head—with a history of supernatural sightings. Nightly tours are held year-round. Adults, $28; hotel guests, military, AAA, and seniors ages 55 and up, $25; children under the age of 10 not permitted; stanleyhotel.com/night-spirit-tour.html. 8. Spooked in Seattle: Seattle Pike Place Market, Seattle (Minacarson/Dreamstime) Spooked in Seattle promises “real ghost stories by real ghost hunters” on its tours. Sightings, however, don't carry a guarantee. The most popular offering is the 90-minute Pioneer Square Ghost Tour, which covers all sorts of locations in the city’s oldest neighborhood, from a hotel to Seattle’s oldest restaurant. You'll get the low-down from your lively tour guide about the the ghostly guests that reside in each place. There’s also a venture down into an underground area with only a flashlight—and the trusted tour guide—to steer you. Another offering is the Pioneer Square Haunted Pub Tour, a bar crawl that explores the seedy doings that went down in the city and a look at the paranormal activity that’s allegedly caused by the spirits of the people who suffered the consequences. Guided Pioneer Square Ghost Tour is offered nightly. $17 per person, $15 students and seniors; spookedinseattle.squarespace.com/tour 9. The Original Santa Fe Ghost Tour: Santa Fe, New Mexico As the second-oldest city in the country, it’d be shocking if there weren’t an abundance of restless souls in Santa Fe. Get to know them under the expert tutelage of Peter Sinclaire, a local who’s been communing with the area’s ghosts for 25 years. The tour winds through the streets of Santa Fe, where eagle-eyed participants might spot La Llarona, an eerie specter mourning the children she drowned in the Santa Fe River, or rub elbows with the city’s most celebrated spirit, Julia Staab, a high-society dame who loved the familial manse—now a luxury property called La Posada de Santa Fe—so much that even now, more than 130 years later, she refuses to move on. She’s been known to hang out in the men’s washroom on the ground floor, so be sure to down some liquid courage at her namesake bar before venturing in. Tours are held on Friday and Saturday nights from March to November and Saturday nights from December to February. $16 per person; theoriginalsantafeghosttour.weebly.com.
These Tourism Slogans Are Meant to Entice You...
Tourism is a competitive business. Every destination—cities, states, national parks, hotels, historical landmarks, etc.—is vying for your attention, time, and money. All of which, of course, is in limited supply. But neither the time nor the money comes into play if the place doesn’t have your attention. And that’s where savvy marketing comes in. Nearly every country on this vast planet has a slogan to make you perk up and take notice and inspire you to come visit. And let’s just say some slogans have a good chance of grabbing your attention by the collar while others might float past you unnoticed with bland reminders of their beauty or friendly residents or geographic locale (Portugal, for instance, beckons with the claim “Europe’s West Coast” and Nigeria announces “Good people. Great nation.”). And others might just make you giggle or, in some cases, furry your brow in bewilderment. You're invited FamilyBreakFinder, a British company that offers tips for family vacations, created an epic map of tourism slogans around the world and it is, without a doubt, captivating. Tourism marketers have a tough job, to be sure: to capture a nation’s spirit in a few bite-size words. Some don’t tout any bells or whistles. They give us just the facts—well, just a fact—and they give it to us quick. There’s “Magical Kenya” and “Epic Estonia.” Germany is “Simply inspiring” while the Netherlands is “The original cool,” Uzbekistan is “Naturally irresistible!” and Denmark is “Happiest place on Earth!” Some nations express a bit more authority, presenting their catchphrase as a demand or instruction. Romania tells the world “Explore the Carpathian Garden” and Poland orders you to “Move your imagination” and if the Caucasus region is calling you, “Visit Armenia. It is beautiful.” For a bit of positive reinforcement, “Travel in Slovakia. Good idea!” Albania’s slogan has us a bit befuddled, though. They say “Go your own way!” Is it just us, or does that sound like they’re turning you away. Looking at the map as a whole, it seems there are a few countries that need to have a powwow and come to some agreements. Mozambique beckons with “Come to where it all started” while Egypt and Ethiopia declare “Where it all begins” and “Land of origins,” respectively. We’re not sure if this is a case for anthropologists and archaeologists or philosophers. Comedy and tragedy The tourism bureaus with what we imagine to be the toughest jobs work in any country where residents are trying to flee or have fled. In Africa, Rwanda avoids debate or unease with “Remarkable Rwanda.” West of the Himalayas we’re reminded “It’s beautiful. It’s Pakistan” while in the Middle East, if you’re thinking of visiting Petra or the Dead Sea or the Desert Castles, Jordan tourism wants to assure you “Yes, it’s Jordan.” On a serious note, though, with the unspeakable and devastating destruction of late Syria’s “Always beautiful” slogan may, sadly, need some retooling. A little comic jab or pun is a dependable way to stick in people’s minds. Morocco, for instance, broadcasts “Much Mor.” And then there’s one of our personal favorites: “Djibouti: Djibeauty.” Another tactic for being memorable? Make an effort to make no sense. El Salvador does a pretty good job with this one, declaring itself “The 45 minute country.”
4 Scariest Halloween Celebrations in the Northeast
Fair warning: These Halloween celebrations are not for everyone. With screams, (fake) blood, and surprises worthy of a Hollywood thriller, these haunted attractions are perfect for those who like to be scared out of their wits at least once each October. (If being terrified isn’t your thing, you may want to check out a soothing fall festival or indulge in some gorgeous leaf peeping instead.) 1. Horseman’s Hollow/The Unsilent Picture, Sleepy Hollow, NY The spooky spirit of Washington Irving’s Legend of Sleepy Hollow is alive and well every October in Westchester County, less than an hour’s drive north of New York City. Horseman’s Hollow has terrifying characters and models on the grounds of one of New York’s most historic properties, Philipsburg Manor, maintained by Historic Hudson Valley. And this year a brand-new scary attraction is The Unsilent Picture, a silent movie starring Tony-Award-winning actor/dancer/clown Bill Irwin, presented under a tent on the manor grounds. (hudsonvalley.org) 2. Eastern State Penitentiary Terror Behind the Walls, Philadelphia, PA A weekend or overnight to Philadelphia this time of year may offer the most terrifying Halloween thrill in America. Eastern State Penitentiary was closed long ago for its horrific treatment of inmates, and the fright fest they put on each fall includes lunatics, mad scientists, and other folks you wouldn’t care to meet in real life. (easternstate.org) 3. 13th Hour Haunted House, Wharton, NJ This haunted house in New Jersey gets high marks for re-creating the feel of an actual run-down old house. You don’t feel as if you are visiting a theme park attraction, and that makes the ghosts, ghouls, and zombies all the more terrifying. 13th Hour offers a variety of experiences, including one in which you wander in complete darkness. And, 13th hour is also famous for its “escape room” experience. (13thhour.com) 4. Blood Manor, Tribeca, NYC You don’t have to leave NYC to experience a haunted house. Blood Manor, in TriBeCa, is one of the hottest tickets in town. Some of the ghouls and zombies have a decidedly "downtown" goth vibe and look as if they shop at the iconic Trash & Vaudeville punk/both boutique in the East Village to be honest. New this year is a wake for a character named Baby Face, and a Killer Clown room that I, for one, will not be entering. (bloodmanor.com)
5 Great Things to Eat in Mexico City
With dining options running the gamut from lowbrow to high, one star to five, the city formerly known as Distrito Federal has long been a mecca for foodies, and today, it’s better than ever. (The DF rebranded in 2016, and now it’s officially called Ciudad de México, though the original nickname still sticks.) Here are five things to look for on your next sojourn to the south, from sweet to spicy and everything in between. 1. Fanciful Fine Dining Beet salad, sea-urchin tostada, and rosé at Restaurante Máximo Bistrot Local. (Maya Stanton) Mexico City’s food scene went upscale some time ago, and it’s still going strong, with creative, multi-course tasting menus (a taco omakase, anyone?) at prices that would be a steal in most other major metropolises. To sample the high-end wares in a low-key setting, book a table at Máximo Bistrot, where chef Eduardo García has been turning out European-accented Mexican fare on a shady, tree-lined corner in Roma since 2011. A late, leisurely lunch is the move here; order a bottle of domestic rosé (the Adobe Guadalupe is a popular pick) and get ready for some of the best bites in town. The octopus ceviche is a standout, with tender slices of cephalopod in a deep pool of homemade Clamato spiked with lemon juice, cilantro, and serranos, and the sea-urchin tostada is something special, the bright-orange uni cooked with garlic, onions and tomatoes, paired with black-bean and avocado purées, crunchy radishes, and a dried-chile and peanut salsa, and served atop a crisp blue-corn tostada. The seasonal, locally sourced menu changes daily, and everything looks as good as it tastes, all beautifully plated on fair-trade serveware from artisans in and around Mexico City. For the ultimate sophisticated Saturday, spend the morning museum-going or gallery-hopping, then fortify yourself with a midday meal at Máximo. Restaurante Máximo Bistrot Local, Tonalá 133, Roma, +52-55-5264-4291; maximobistrot.com.mx. 2. Terrific Tacos A campechano taco from Los Cocuyos. (Maya Stanton) You can’t throw a stick without hitting a taco joint in the DF, and it’s safe to say that unless you live in one of the few U.S. locales that knows how to do tacos right, the quality here is way better than what you’ll find north of the border. Each is served atop doubled-up pint-sized tortillas, an abundance of meaty fillings to choose from, and fresh cilantro and finely chopped onion scattered on top—and that’s not to mention the array of accoutrements available. If you’re in the Centro, you can’t go wrong with the suadero (brisket), lengua (tongue), or campechano (mixed meat) tacos from Los Cocuyos, a hole-in-the-wall spot that keeps a giant pan of assorted sausages and hunks of meat on a permanent simmer, just waiting for the orders to roll in. Customize yours with pico de gallo, salsas verde or rojo, radish slices, and lime wedges, then head outside and eat hunched over a paper plate with grease streaming through your fingers. Taquería Los Cocuyos, Calle de Bolívar 57, Centro. 3. Street Eats Mango with hot sauce and lime, from a vendor outside of Frida Kahlo's Casa Azul. (Maya Stanton) Those with sensitive hypochondriac tendencies might opt out of street food, but for people with tough stomachs and curious palettes, there’s all kinds of good stuff on offer. From overstuffed gorditas to market-stand ceviches to tacos upon tacos upon tacos, Mexico City is awash with open-air vendors hawking pretty much everything imaginable. Don’t leave without trying the fresh-cut mango: Peeled, chopped, sprinkled with sugar, and doused with lime juice and hot sauce, it's incredibly refreshing on a hot sunny day. 4. Marvelous Masa An octopus memela from Fonda Fina. (Maya Stanton) The corn-based dough known as masa serves as the basis for Mexican staples of all kinds, from tortillas and banana leaf–wrapped tamales to sopes (small fried pucks crowned with assorted meat and vegetables) and huaraches (flat shoe-shaped patties covered with refried beans and other garnishes). Memelas, slightly thicker than a tortilla but thinner than a sope, are a mesa’s close cousin. You’ll find an excellent, upmarket take at Fonda Fina in Roma Norte, where the corn cake is topped with penny-sized slices of octopus, knobs of roasted cauliflower, and little bits of pressed pork, then drenched in squid ink and dusted with ground chicatana ants. It’s hardly a pretty dish, but what it lacks in beauty, it more than makes up for in flavor. Well-executed menu aside, the restaurant gets bonus points for serving dinner on Sunday, a rarity in this town. Just be sure to get there early, as the kitchen closes at 7:00 p.m. Fonda Fina, Medellín 79, Roma Norte, +52-55-5208-3925; fondafina.com.mx. 5. Sweet Treats An order of churros from Churrería El Moro. (Maya Stanton) A visit to Mexico City isn’t complete without a stop for churros, those deep-fried, cruller-like delights, and lucky for night owls, local mini-chain Churrería El Moro’s flagship Centro spot is open 24 hours. Watch the workers behind the counter wrangle unruly coils of piped dough into a bubbling trough of hot oil and try to wait patiently for your order to arrive, fresh out of the fryer and dusted with cinnamon and sugar, a cup of dipping chocolate on the side. At just $1 for four, and 35 cents or so for the chocolate, they’re a satisfying, easily shared, budget-friendly snack. Churrería El Moro, Eje Central Lázaro Cárdenas 42, Centro, +52-55-5512-0896; elmoro.mx.