36 Hours in Mordor

Surrounded by forbidding mountains and inhabited largely by bloodthirsty orcs, Mordor has long been absent from most travelers’ itineraries. But change has come to this vast land, whose residents have watched an evil sorcerous government give way to vibrant parliamentary democracy, and myriad dungeons once brimming with lost souls converted to hip galleries and cute boutiques. Mordor, as the Mordorinos themselves don’t hesitate to tell you, is very much open for business.


1.     Raise a Stein | 5 p.m.
The journey to Mordor can be taxing, so kick your horse lag posthaste with a draft of lukewarm swill. At Slash Brewing Co. they make 14 varieties on site and give tasting tours at the top of every hour. If you’re feeling brave, order the Uruk-hai flight, which comes with eight six-ounce samples meant to be savored in the local way: with an eyeball chaser. (Uruk-hai flight is 90 lizard toes, or about $22 at the rate of 4 lizard toes to the dollar.)

2.     Feast Like a King | 7 p.m.
Mordor isn’t always on the best of terms with Gondor, the human-led kingdom to the west, but any lingering acrimony stops at dinner. Man Food, a restaurant serving traditional Gondorigian fare in the up-and-coming Necrosis District, packs the tables nightly. Try the rabbit (LT127), served Anórien style and still extruding the arrow that killed it. The owner, Akashmir, is said to be descended from royal Steward lineage. He can be found holding court at the bar most nights—buy him a mead and chances are he’ll tell you a few tales, whether or not you ask to hear them.

3.     Dancing with the Wargs | 10 p.m.
After dinner take a stroll down Ring Road, Mordor’s main drag, which was once a seedy Nazgûl hangout but now more resembles a fashion runway. Snag an outdoor table at Lair for first-rate creature watching; the drinks are pricey (and septic), but the scene is priceless. When the minstrels strike up their bone lutes, pay the cover charge (LT100) and head indoors, where you can writhe till the wee hours.


4.     Hoof It | 8 a.m.
Grab a traditional street breakfast of demon eggs and fresh-pressed slugjuice, then work off your hangover with a vigorous hike in the Ash Mountains. Mordor Explore offers guided day trips (LT450 per individual) or, if you’d rather roam solo, can provide you with a detailed map of the trails. Clamber to the top of Pus Peak (just follow the skulls) and marvel at the expansive views toward Mount Doom and across the plains of Núrn. Your Instagram followers will thank you.

5.     Get Loose | 1 p.m.
After all that exercise, make your way to Paralysis Day Spa for some much-needed relaxation (LT750 for an all-day pass). Have a light but wholesome lunch of quinoa salad (get it with the roach dressing), then spend some time unwinding in the soothing steam room, a former torture chamber. End with a classic Mordorino massage, which involves a Balrog bludgeoning your naked body with electric eels. (Note: Mordorino massage not recommended for those with heart conditions or normal hearts.)

6.     History Lesson | 5 p.m.
History is everywhere in Mordor, but perhaps nowhere is it more directly felt than at Barad-dûr, the Dark Tower (LT15 entrance fee). Constructed in the brutalist style by Sauron in 1600 of the Second Age, the Dark Tower was among the strongest fortresses ever built; now, its crumbling walls serve as a reminder of Mordor’s not-so-distant grim past. After touring the ruins walk several blocks south, to the Plaza de los Muertos, where during Sauron’s reign executions took place every day from sunup to sundown. From sunup to sundown these days, though, the square bustles with Mordorinos of all ages: young orcs kicking around a head, love-struck teenagers sneaking orgies behind the fountain, and adults at outdoor cafés, thoughtfully sipping their demitasses of diarrhea. No one seems to know anything about the Spanish name. 

7.     Forks and Forceps | 8 p.m.
For dinner, head to Chokepointe in trendy WoHO (West of Hell Opening), the restaurant helmed by celebrity chef Feral Adrenál. Start with the decadent plateau de fruits de terre, the grub worm platter (LT390), meant for sharing and heaped to the brim with slimy scarabaeoideans. Among the standout mains are the braised bat balls (LT105) and the fried chicken fingers (LT97), which never includes pinkies. Adrenál is best known for his “molecular” creations, however, and Chokepointe’s most famous dish has to be the astounding faux olive (LT115), created using a spherification process involving ingredients like calcium chloride and xanthan gum. But don’t be fooled—despite appearances, what you’re about to eat isn’t a true, solid olive. It’s spider semen.

8.     Cultural Imbibitions | 10 p.m.
Mordorinos serious about their cocktails, art, and music make haste for The Black Box, an old-limb-warehouse-turned-party-space at the corner of 4th and Agony, in Dwarftown. Order a Bloody Elf (LT36) from the bewhiskered bartender (yes, he’s a giant rat), and check out whatever exhibition is showing in the upstairs gallery (this month the artist Bolgash mounted the stirring “post-,” a meditation on Orc identity in the new age). Then head to the basement, where a rotating lineup of deejays mixes the best of Mordorino paintronica, goosestep, and bleak house seven nights a week.    


9.     Grits and Glamour | 11 a.m.
Sunday mornings in Mordor are all about that brunch. Beat a path to Zalg’s, an institution, for great jazz, the best omelettes, and all-you-can-drink Urine Royales (brunch is LT129 per individual, all-inclusive). Then burn off the calories shopping on Via Vomito, Mordor’s newly finished pedestrian avenue, lined with luxury brands like Vulgari, Diane von Hindenburg, and Charnel. Scabbard your longsword and unsheathe your credit card—this is the new Mordor.