Photograph by Angelo Shenery

Mott Haven and Port Morris are undisputedly some of the hottest neighborhoods in The Bronx right now, undergoing intense gentrification pressures as well as local revival. Market-rate apartments are going up side by side with affordable housing, and trendy office space is popping up. New restaurants, most locally owned, and hip retail are drawing people to live, work, or play. But the transit-rich neighborhoods also have rich history and architectural heritage that many local activists are hoping can remain and serve the existing communities that call the areas home. 

Here are 10 places not to miss in the neighborhoods:

1. Mott Haven Bar & Grill: 1 Bruckner Blvd

Photograph by Angelo Shenery

The business that started it all is located in an 87-year-old building. This Latina-owned restaurant, established by Rosa Garcia in 2013, has developed a loyal following and gave confidence to other entrepreneurs, proving that it is possible to open a swank restaurant in The South Bronx. Although known for being a spot for lunch meetings, the place is always buzzing, the staff is welcoming, and the food is piquant.

Recently, Mott Haven Bar & Grill collaborated with Bronx Native to develop t-shirts promoting the popular restaurant. This coming spring, also look out for its food truck, Mott Haven On The Go!

2. Mott Haven Historic District

Photo courtesy Mott Haven Historic Districts Association

The Bronx is home to 12 Historic Districts, 93 Individual Landmarks and 8 Interior Landmarks. The Mott Haven Historic District host of wonderful historic homes, churches and buildings in Mott Haven, and a Mott Haven Historic Districts Association is actively documenting the history and fighting for the preservation of these areas.

3. Port Morris Abandoned Train Tracks

Mott Haven-Bronx-Guide-Historic District-Fake Townhouses-NYC-022

Located from East 163rd Street to East 141st Street by the waterfront (picture taken from Southern Blvd near 142nd Street), the abandoned South Bronx Rail Line’s next life has been a topic of debate, with Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. arguing that the site should be turned into a new “lowline” park. Since this strip of vacant land won’t be redeveloped anytime soon, you’ll have plenty of time to visit this 20 block stretch filled with fantastic graffiti, and not so fantastic trash. You can check out this photo essay from James and Karla Murray which shows the graffiti on the rail line from the 2000s to today.

4. Charlie’s Bar & Kitchen: 112 Lincoln Ave.

Photograph by Angelo Shenery

This great date spot in The Bronx is located in the Clock Tower Building, once a piano manufacturing building. Many credit the building’s adaptive reuse for putting Mott Haven on the development map. Every year, the building holds spring and summer events on its roof top deck. Charlie’s can be found on the ground floor, and is The Bronx’s version of Cheers: it’s lively on the weekends, but cool and calm during weeknights.

Its eclectic menu features mussels cooked with white wine and served with garlic toast, and rustic chicken pasta. Happy Hour is from 3-7pm and every first Saturday of the month is its Hip Hop Brunch. Make sure to ask its Aussie bartender, Dan, for a Bronx Gin.

5. Mottley Kitchen: 402 E. 140th Street

Photograph by Angelo Shenery

A former church turned café, located in the popular Mott Haven Historic District, has taken the neighborhood by storm. The newest kid on the block is probably the area’s best option for brunch. Where else in The Bronx will you find avocado toast? The café’s white walls and spacious interior make it out stand out from the usual cramped cafes that are decorated with art hanging on the walls.

The café is already a favorite with residents and school teachers. Saturdays between 2pm and 4pm, you can catch a local artist performance while enjoying a sandwich (try the Arthur Avenue). Plans are in the works for rooftop access, which will take Mottley Kitchen to another level, literally.

6. The Bronx Brewery: 856 E. 136th Street

Photograph by Angelo Shenery

This popular brewery has been a hit with locals since it first opened its doors in 2014 — probably because of its constant involvement with community activities and collaboration with local artists, or due to its wide selection of beers that keeps you camping out at the brewery longer than you should.

During warm seasons, the backyard is open and events are constantly taking place. When it is too cold outside, the brewery plays host to yoga classes and Reggae Sweatboxes. A cozy place with knowledgable and friendly staff, The Bronx Brewery is the first brewery to operate in the South Bronx since prohibition. It’s responsible for bringing life and beer back to Port Morris.

7. Bronx Native: 127 Lincoln Ave.

Image courtesy Bronx Native

It doesn’t get any more local than this. Bronx natives, Amaurys Grullon and his sister Roselyn, created a clothing brand proudly based on The Bronx. You won’t just find t-shirts and sweaters at their retail store. Visit on the right night and you might bump into a live musical performance or community event. Famed make-up artist, Mario Dedivanovic, and young up-and-coming actor, Jharrel Jerome, have been spotted wearing Bronx Native gear.

Amaurys is a shining example of the young entrepreneurs protecting and branding their hometown before others take up vital storefronts. Keeping it local means preserving the natural flavor of the neighborhood.

8. Randall’s Island Connector: 132nd Street Port Morris

Photograph by Angelo Shenery

For years, Bronxites had to drive to Randall’s island, which is a stone’s throw away from Port Morris. After countless meetings and activism, construction on the $6 million dollar pathway began in 2013. In the fall of 2015, the connector was completed and opened to the public, finally giving locals in The Bronx direct access to Randall’s Island.

Bike, jog or walk along the quarter mile-long pedestrian pathway and spend time on the island that plays hosts to the Governor’s Ball and Electric Zoo. On non-event days, have a picnic, play softball or golf.

9. Third Ave Bridge: 135th Street and Third Ave.

Photograph by Angelo Shenery

On weekend mornings, the Third Ave Bridge is busy with bikers and joggers making the trek to Harlem and back for a workout. Since subway service is now rare on the weekends, this is not a bad alternative to get to Manhattan, and you’ll be in for some awesome views.

The bridge is 2800-feet long and was built between 1893-1898, then reconstructed between 2001-2004. While the city neglected basic sanitation along the bridge, community activists and neighborhood business owners took matters into their own hands last summer, hosting a massive cleanup event. A block party was held under the bridge to celebrate the efforts of all those involved.

10. Filtered Coffee: 2430 Third Ave.

Photograph by Angelo Shenery

Filtered Coffee is the caffeine headquarters for the neighborhood’s young professionals. This A-rated coffee shop serves pastries to your heart’s delight. Sink into the old fashioned leather chairs and let your mind drift while having a latte, or grab a table, open your laptop and get some work done before hitting up one of the nearby restaurants.

Filtered is open Monday-Friday from 7am to 6pm, and 8am-5pm on the weekends. Don’t forget to take a punch card as the 10th coffee is on the house.

Next, check out our must visit guide to Riverdale, discover 10 Abandoned Places in the Bronx and uncover the Secrets of City Island.

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