Sitting flush against Yonkers’ southern border, Woodlawn Heights is almost as north as you can get in New York City. Once a mostly German neighborhood, the area is now one of the most common landing spots for first-generation immigrants from Ireland (If you’re of Irish lineage, don’t mention it unless you’re prepared to boast your ancestors’ county and town as well).
The Woodlawn Metro-North stop on the Harlem Line will drop you off closest to the action, but you can also take the 4 train to the end of the line if you’re willing to walk a bit to save a few bucks on travel (The walk from the 4 train’s Woodlawn station forces you to take a lovely stroll between Van Cortlandt Park and the cemetery. Could be worse).
The neighborhood spans less than 30 square blocks, but the trip is worth it. There’s more Irish culture packed in this Bronx enclave than you’ll find almost anywhere else in the city. Here’s our suggestions for places to visit while you’re there.
Start your day at Anna Artuso's Pastry Shop
This is one of three Yonkers spots we had to include. Anna Artuso's at 969 McLean Ave. was founded in 1966, and Anna herself is a matriarchal figure in the neighborhood, as evidenced by the newspaper clippings and photos taped to the window. No custom cake is too difficult for the artisans here (just check out their Yelp page), and the assorted butter cookies ($16 per pound) are exactly as butter cookies should be. Legend has it the Pastry Shop's Italian ices ($1.50-$7.00, various sizes) rival the best of New York City. The bakery opens at 7 a.m. daily.
Fresh desserts line the shelves at Anna Artuso's.
Tour the historic Woodlawn Cemetery
This National Historic Landmark was established in 1863 and is the final resting place of hundreds of influential writers (Herman Melville), musicians (Miles Davis, Duke Ellington), civic leaders (Robert Moses, Louis F. Haffen) women's suffrage leaders (Celia Cruz, Elizabeth Cady Stanton), and military veterans (Admiral David Glasgow Farragut, Joseph Pulitzer). The sprawling grounds, from East 211th to East 233rd streets, Jerome to Webster avenues, are known equally for its architecture as well as its foliage. There are more than 140 varieties of trees, including five of New York City's "Great Trees," according to the cemetery. Take a general walking tour on the second Sunday of every month ($10-$15), or catch various themed tours throughout the year ($10-$15).
Irish pride at Anna's Attic
The second of our Yonkers destinations, Anna's Attic at 952 McLean Ave. is the best place to pick up a souvenir from your visit to the predominantly Irish area. A New York Times article from 2003 pointed out that Woodlawn has been a longtime favorite landing for recent immigrants from Ireland, and it doesn't sound like much has changed since then. From the friendly staff at Anna's to the inviting bartenders at countless pubs, untarnished accents abound. So grab a memento of your visit to this enclave.
Neighborhood programs at Aisling Irish Community Center
Continuing with the cultural theme, we bring you to our final spot in Yonkers. The center at 990 McLean Ave. receives money from the Irish government for its efforts to help immigrants transition into their new life in the United States, but they also offer several programs open to anyone who'd like to join. Beginner Irish language classes for adults take place every Tuesday from 7 to 8 p.m., and children's classes are offered on Saturdays at 10 a.m. Irish dancing lessons are also hosted at the community center by Flynn Irish Dance. If you're up for some group exercise try the Vinyassa Yoga class at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday or the Zumba class at 7 p.m. on Thursday.
Grab lunch at Prime Cuts
Once it's time for lunch, your best stop-and-go option is Prime Cuts Irish Butcher Store at 4338 Katonah Ave. Brendan "The Butcher" Stapleton, a native of County Wicklow just south of Dublin, founded the shop in 1992. Grab any sandwich, wrap or roll with your choice of meat and bread for just $5.50 ($1 extra for cheese). If you're up for something more authentic, ask for the blood pudding or white pudding, both made daily on premises, according to their website. Their corned beef and bacon-cured products are also prepared on-site.
Or grab a bite at the kitchen
For a slower-paced sit-down lunch, the kitchen at 4330 Katonah Ave. is where it's at. Virtually the entire menu offers you a chance to fill your belly for less than a Hamilton. For starters, any sized tea or coffee is just $1. The kitchen offers a variety of burgers ($6.20-$10.50) as well as a pulled pork sandwich with bacon, cheese and a layer of fries ($9.95). For something lighter, ask for the smoothie and salad menus. An assortment of fresh salads are assembled to order ($7.95-$10.95) and more than a dozen blended beverages ($6.50-$7.50) feature everything from cocoa powder to coconut water to kale.
Shop for streetwear at Since NYC
Owner Ed Almonte (pictured) launched his streetwear brand, Since 1982, in October 2013 and moved into the current brick-and-mortar location at 4354b Katonah Ave. in December 2017. The shop offers a curated selection of sneakers in addition to custom T-shirts and hats (you can also get in a game of NBA 2K18 on their giant flat-screen). Almonte has designed hats for MTV's "Wild 'N Out" as well as apparel for Future, Rick Ross, Bad Boy Records and other hip-hop A-listers. T-shirts start at $30 and hats from $36, and everything is manufactured in the Bronx.
Grab a slice at Patrizia's
After a day of walking hills and exploring some of New York City's northernmost territory, take a load off at Patrizia's Pizzeria at 4358 Katonah Ave. This wood-fired pizza joint between 239th and 240th streets is one of a dozen Patrizia's locations in the city and on Long Island. Margherita and marinara pies (fresh mozzarella and tomato, of course) will run you $9.75 for a mini and $18 for a large. Add $2-$6 for specialty pies, such as alla calabrese or the veggie la giardiniera. Patrizia's keeps it simple with toppings -- when your crust is that crisp and flaky, you let it shine.
Have a pint at John Mulligan's
There may not a more appropriate place to top off a day in the Irish haven of Woodlawn than John Mulligan's Fireside Pub at 4272 Katonah Ave. No frills, no presumptions, just a warm, welcoming dive with a staff that would give Sam, Diane and Carla a run for their money. Get domestic bottled beer at happy hour for $3 a pop, but if you miss the deal don't worry -- regular price is $4. And if you have any appetite left after Patrizia's, make a new friend or two and split a burger. The locals will tell you it's the best for miles.