Real EstateCity LivingManhattan East Harlem: What to do, see, eat and more in NYC's famed Latin neighborhood By LAUREN HOLTER / Special to amNewYork Updated September 16, 2015 4:19 PM Print Share fbShare Tweet Email East Harlem still boasts its historic Latin American community, but the northern Manhattan neighborhood is quickly diversifying. Affectionately referred to as "El Barrio" -- or "the neighborhood," reflecting its roots as one of the city's vital communities of Spanish-speaking immigrants and Puerto Ricans -- its affordable rents have begun to attract a mix of hipsters and other immigrants. Photo Credit: Jeremy Bales Countless restaurants and record shops preserve El Barrio's roots. Its street culture is embodied in the murals that decorate the area and in the Graffiti Hall of Fame in the Jackie Robinson Educational Complex on 106th Street. However, "It's definitely changing -- gentrifying," Vincent Mingalone, owner of Harlem Florist Loft on First Avenue, said of the neighborhood. "It's becoming more and more like downtown." Photo Credit: Jeremy Bales New bars and coffee shops, like D'Amore Winebar on East 116th Street and Rise & Grind on Second Avenue, are catering to a millennial demographic. "There are a lot of young people now," said Edward Mateus, who's lived in the neighborhood for 20 years. "It's like the new Williamsburg." Photo Credit: Jeremy Bales East Harlem has the nightlife that young residents want, as well as the family-friendly activities that parents need, locals said. It's close to Central Park, multiple smaller parks, the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway, and Randall's Island. Photo Credit: Jeremy Bales Affordable rents are also attracting new people to the upper Manhattan area. Rental buildings in East Harlem range from walkups to new high-rises. The average rent on a one-bedroom is around $1,900, according to Citi Habitats realtor Woori Jo. The old walk-ups are the least expensive, she said. Photo Credit: Jeremy Bales Condos for sale start around $439,000 for a two-bed, one-bath, while two-bedroom co-ops fetch about $200,000 and up. New condos close to Central Park are pricier, such as in One Museum Mile that has a one-bedroom, one-bath condo listed on StreetEasy for just under $1 million. The neighborhood also has a lot of townhouses, but Jo said they're rarely put on the market and sell for about $2.5 million to $10 million depending on the size and state of upkeep. Photo Credit: Jeremy Bales And although East Harlem may feel like you're living way up north, the commute downtown is quick via the 4, 5 and 6 trains. "The transportation is really convenient for me," said Jo, who's lived in the neighborhood for four years. Getting from 116th Street to Grand Central takes her about 20 minutes. "Everyone is very nice," Jo said of her neighbors. "It's definitely an up-and-coming and very friendly neighborhood." Finding East Harlem Photo Credit: Google maps East Harlem stretches from 97th Street up to 135th Street, with the FDR Drive bordering it to the east. Its eastern boundary is Fifth Avenue below 117th Street and Park Avenue above 117th. The basics Photo Credit: Getty Images Transportation Trains: 4, 5 to 125th Street; 6 to 103rd Street, 110th Street, 116th Street or 125th Street Buses: M1, M2, M3, M4, M15, M35, M60, M96, M98, M101, M102, M103, M106, M116 and Bx15 Library NYPL at 224 E. 125th St.; NYPL Aguilar Library at 174 E. 110th St. Post office USPS at 167 E. 124th St. and 153 E. 110th St. Crime East Harlem is covered by the 25th Precinct at 120 E. 119th St. and the 23rd Precinct at 162 E. 102 St. The 25th Precinct's CompStat report for the week Aug. 31-Sept. 6 showed six robberies and three burglaries. It reported five murders and 28 rapes in all of 2014. The 23th Precinct?s CompStat report for that week showed two robberies, one burglary and one rape. East Harlem real estate Photo Credit: Jeremy Bales To rent 120 E. 102nd St. #2A One bed, one bath; $2,296 per month 2147 Second Ave. #7C Two beds, one bath; $2,499 per month To buy 169 E. 102nd St. #5C Two beds, one bath; $624,000 225 E. 111th St. #PH Two beds, two baths; $1,084,000 161 E. 110th St. #2E One bed, one bath; $838,000 2015 East HarLem market data as of Sept. 11: Median sales price: $495,000 Number of units on market: 114 Median rental price: $2,100 Number of rentals on market: 2,122 Where to eat in East Harlem Photo Credit: Jeremy Bales -- East Harlem Café, 1651 Lexington Ave. The breakfast and lunch spot serves up fresh coffee, traditional breakfast foods, and a variety of sandwiches and salads, and has free Wi-Fi. Eastharlemcafe.com -- Ricardo Steak House, 2145 Second Ave. This trendy restaurant not only offers steaks, seafood and pastas, but also has a live DJ every night. Dinner's never boring. Ricardosteakhouse.com -- Taco Mix, 234 E. 116th St. Taco Mix is a no-frills taqueria that serves simple, authentic tacos and other Mexican fare. Facebook.com/tacomixusa To Party Photo Credit: Jeremy Bales -- Earl's Beer & Cheese, 1259 Park Ave. Along with beer, this small bar serves multiple types of cheesy foods, such as grilled cheeses, and hosts trivia nights. Earlsny.com -- The Duck, 2171 Second Ave. The sister bar of Tribeca?s the Patriot, the Duck's main draw is its cheap prices, with $8 pitchers of beer and $3 drafts. 212-831-0000 -- The Lexington Social, 1634 Lexington Ave. This rustic, Mediterranean-style tapas bar also has an extensive wine, beer and cocktail menu. Thelexingtonsocialnyc.com To Shop Photo Credit: Jeremy Bales -- East River Plaza, 520 E. 117th St. Shop at Costco, Target, Best Buy, Marshalls, PetSmart, Bob's Discount Furniture, Old Navy and other stores. Eastriverplaza.com -- La Casa Azul Bookstore, 143 103rd St. Specializing in Latino literature, La Casa Azul is one of the few remaining independent bookstores in the city.Lacasaazulbookstore.com -- Coco Le Vu Candy Shop & Party Room, 202 E. 110th St. This old-fashioned candy shop sells more than 500 types of candy, including jelly beans, chocolate lollipops and more than 20 flavors of homemade fudge. Cocolevu.com To Do Photo Credit: Jeremy Bales -- El Museo del Barrio, 1230 Fifth Ave. An art museum showcasing Latin American cultures, with exhibitions on The Young Lords and Rodriguez Calero on display now.Elmuseo.org -- Lorenz Latin Dance Studio, 2153 Second Ave. From group classes to weekend socials, this Latin dance studio can teach you how to salsa like a pro. Lorenzdancestudio.com -- The Poet's Den Theater and Gallery, 309 E. 108th St. This cultural hub offers art exhibitions, fashion shows, dance performances and workshops for the neighborhood. Its annual film festival is in October. Eastharlempresents.org The EHSBA is trying to block city's plans for multimedia center Photo Credit: Jeremy Bales The East Harlem Small Business Association is trying to block the city's plan to evict businesses to make way for an East Harlem Media, Entertainment and Cultural Center. Businesses on the strip -- from 125th to 126th streets between Second and Third avenues -- have tried to fight the project in court. The East Harlem Business Association hired real estate lawyer Adam Leitman Bailey on their behalf, however Bailey declined to comment. The $700 million, 1.7 million-square-foot project, approved by the City Planning Commission in 2008, is slated to include 30,000 square feet of community space, more than 600 affordable housing units, a public plaza, a hotel, and office and retail space. On Wednesday the New York Supreme court granted the city's petition to acquire the properties. However, according to Kelly Magee, vice president of public affairs for the Economic Development Corporation, which is responsible for the project, businesses will receive buyouts. "When the city does acquire the properties, compensation will be given to all former owners and to those tenants entitled to payment under the law," Magee said via email. Among the affected establishments is the New Light Baptist Church on 125th Street, which will lose the parking lot for its congregation. New Light pastor Bobby Lewis said there's been a lack of communication between the city and the businesses. "We weren't notified at all," of the city's plans to acquire the properties, Lewis said. "We just heard other people in the community talking about it." Q&A with Jo-Ann Barett: Co-owner of Aromas Boutique Bakery Photo Credit: Aromas Boutique Bakery & Cafe via Facebook East Harlem's Aromas Boutique Bakery makes sweet treats from all-natural ingredients for every occasion, from weddings to birthday parties, and caters private and corporate events. The bakery originally had a café in the neighborhood, but recently transitioned to only special orders and catering. Jo-Ann Barett owns the business with her sister, Eileen Barett, who's the baker and chef. What do you like about East Harlem? One of the things that I like is that we're now getting a lot of more interesting places to eat and to socialize. There's definitely more diversity in East Harlem and that's something that I personally appreciate. You can really get a lot of what you want here. There was a time when you had to travel to the Upper East [Side] or across town, and now you can get a lot of that here. How would you describe your baked goods? I would say all-natural, very delicious and beautiful. We have a real commitment to everything being as clean as possible. Our pumpkin cake is our best seller -- we sell it all year round and people love it, whether it?s a wedding or birthday, whatever it is. What's your average customer like? It used to be just moms, like the moms who were looking for birthday cakes or to cater a birthday party, that used to be our customer, and it's changed quite a bit. We're doing breakfast, lunch and dessert for big companies. By LAUREN HOLTER / Special to amNewYork Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Comments We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.