Say “Hola” to Your Neighbors

BY DAY, NICK ZUKIN is the “Zuke” in our most Jewish of delis, Kenny & Zuke’s, home of the city’s tallest pastrami sandwich. He also is "extramsg," the notorious food blogger known for dishing out rapacious culinary surveys. But in his spare time you’ll find him on Portland’s outer edges, immersed in the wonders of tlayudas (Oaxacan tostadas) and chapulines (a grasshopper dish prized by macho foodies), or just trying out taquerias that wear that ultimate badge of authenticity: a TV playing Sábado Gigante, Univision’s popular variety show. Here, Zukin offers a quick cultural tour of Portland largest ethnic group.

NICK ZUKIN’S BORDER TOWN

Oregon Flea Market: A Latino pop culture collector’s paradise but also a genuine slice of life, this flea market hosts everything from vendors sprinkling fresh-cut fruit with chile powder to stalls hawking lucha libre masks. 18340 SE Stark St; 503-492-9209

Bora Bora: At Zukin’s latest taco truck obsession, discover the street food of the Mexican state of Sinaloa from chorreadas (fried gorditas with meat and melted cheese) to pollo al carbon (smoky Sinaloa-style grilled chicken). SE 158th Ave & Division St

Don Camaron Restaurant: At this intimate mariscos (seafood) restaurant, shrimp is served dozens of ways, including grilled whole with heads on. 14130 SE Division St; 503-760-4018

Go Arboreal

FREELANCE WRITER, PLAYWRIGHT, and storyteller Kristin Kaye has edited a book for Ziba Design, directed an off-Broadway show, and written a book about the subculture of female bodybuilders. And with her new novel, To Catch What Falls, Kaye climbs into the world of trees. Her three years of research led to her co-found Duff Dinners, a seasonal supper-club and conversation series devoted to stories for appreciating—and strategies for saving—the forest ($85, duffdinners.com). But for free, she suggests just tuning in to the trunks around you. “When I run through Fernhill Park, I feel like the bigleaf maples are combing my hair,” says Kaye. “I get this rush of wisdom and want to lay down like a lazy cat and hear their stories.”

KRISTIN KAYE’S TREE HUGS

Ainsworth Linear Arboretum: This two-mile-long stretch of green along NE Ainsworth Street from MLK Jr. Boulevard to Fernhill Park provides a peek at what Portland’s flora might look like in future decades, when our climate becomes hotter. This little-known treasure and learning landscape is maintained by a few legacy-loving community members and city agencies. Brochure at portlandonline.com

Friends of Trees: Dirty your hands and green your ’hood by planting trees with your neighbors. Bargain-priced trees ($35-75) come with Nordstrom-like service: delivery, hole-digging, planting assistance, and follow-up maintenance. friendsoftrees.org

Hyla Woods: Similar to the model of community-supported agriculture co-ops, a free membership to this family-owned “Community-Connected Forest” in the northern Oregon Coast Range lets you help nurture the nearly 800 acres of trees and then purchase wood harvested from the area. hylawoods.com

Paddle the Willamette

DINNER AT RABBI GARY SCHOENBERG’S is chicken soup for the soul. Since 1990, more than 8,000 guests have sat at his table as a part of Gesher, the home-based outreach program he co-founded to connect unaffiliated Jews with elaborate vegetarian feasts, meaningful conversation, and fellow guests that might include a fundamentalist minister or a Palestinian. But when the good rabbi is in need of a fresh perspective—and relief from the dishes—he packs up his boat and heads down to the river. His favorite route? "From Willamette Park, head north and pass Ross Island and come under the Marquam Bridge and inhale the city," he says. "God, we live in a beautiful place."

How Rabbi Gary Floats His Boat

Getting started: Willamette Riverkeeper, Portland Boathouse: The nonprofit environmental organization’s River Discovery program leads local trips to waterways ranging from the Scappoose Bay to the interior of Ross Island, with some canoes available for use on tours. 1515 SE Water Ave. willamette-riverkeeper.org

On your own: Hit Alder Creek Kayak & Canoe, Portland Boathouse: Rentals run $30/half-day, $50/day, and include all the necessary gear. The clerks offer enough safety and navigation tips that even newbies will be happy paddlers. 1515 SE Water Ave. aldercreek.com

Get ambitious: Grab a friend for a leisurely Willamette Park-to-Steel Bridge trip. Park a car at both spots (unless you want to paddle upstream back). Launch at Willamette Park at SW Macadam Avenue at Nebraska Street (and pray for a parking spot). Partway, tie up on the Eastbank Esplanade near the Burnside Bridge, scamper up the catwalk stairs, and stroll over to Nicholas Restaurant for fresh-baked pita and Middle Eastern mezza. 318 SE Grand Ave. nicholasrestaurant.com