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Things to Do

What to do and eat in Mott Haven, Bronx

We know what you’re thinking: Is Mott Haven really worth the trek out to the Bronx? The answer is a simple, and colorful, yes.

The neighborhood, located in the South Bronx, is home to numerous historical churches, authentic eats and vibrant street art.

If you're coming from midtown, you'll want to hop on the 6 train to get to Mott Haven in just under one hour.

Here's how to spend the day in the area.

Enjoy breakfast at Nick's Blue Diner

Get your morning grub at Nick's Blue Diner,
Photo Credit: Christa Lopez

Get your morning grub at Nick's Blue Diner, 217 E. 138th St. Granted, it's not too fancy, but the big crowds are there for a reason -- plus, there aren't many classic diners like this left in the South Bronx.

Repair your soul (and sole) at Shoe Repair & Botanica

Shoe Repair and Botanica, 523 E. 138th St.,
Photo Credit: Christa Lopez

Shoe Repair and Botanica, 523 E. 138th St., features the much-overlooked combination of Afro-Cuban religious advice and shoe service. The shop, open for more than 20 years, sells candles that are said to provide healing energies. If it's up your alley, it could be good for your soul and sole.

On Sundays, opt for brunch at Charlies Bar & Kitchen

The chicken and waffles, pictured, and shrimp and
Photo Credit: Charlies Bar and Kitchen

The chicken and waffles, pictured, and shrimp and grits dishes jump out at you from the menu at Charlies Bar and Kitchen, 112 Lincoln Ave. But the stars here are the cocktails, including the Bronx Tale, which has vodka, lime juice and clove tincture. The spot serves brunch on Sundays starting at 11 a.m.

Admire St. Jerome’s Church

St. Jerome's Church, at 230 Alexander Ave., is
Photo Credit: Christa Lopez

St. Jerome's Church, at 230 Alexander Ave., is not the oldest nor the biggest, but the beautiful Italian Renaissance and Spanish Baroque details within the church may bring reminders of the Mediterranean. And if there is a smell of incense, so much the better.

Walk the historic Bertine Block

Some call it the most beautiful row of
Photo Credit: Emilio Guerra

Some call it the most beautiful row of houses in the Bronx, although the folks on Jackson or Clay Avenues may take issue with that. The Bertine Block Historic District, which stretches East 136th Street between Willis Avenue and Brown Place, is preserved by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. It's definitely a welcome relief in an area full of monotonous housing blocks.

Search for the secret passageway at St. Ann's

The oldest church in the area (and second-oldest
Photo Credit: Christa Lopez

The oldest church in the area (and second-oldest in the borough) is the burial place of several of the Morris scions, including Lewis, signer of the Declaration of Independence. A secret passageway at St. Ann's, 295 St. Ann's Ave., leads to the family crypt. To find it, follow the blue "St. Ann's Shrine" signs.

Go for a stroll through the park

Play some early tennis, or go for a
Photo Credit: NYC Parks

Play some early tennis, or go for a brisk stroll, at Mill Pond Park, located off the Major Deegan Expressway. True, it's technically not Mott Haven, but it's the best you'll get nearby if you're looking to play. The tennis courts by the revamped Bronx Terminal Market are nice and shiny, plus you can play indoors for free. If you're not up for the walk, head to St. Mary's Park instead. Located at 450 St. Ann's Ave., it's the largest park in the South Bronx.

Dine at Mott Haven's Mexican jewels

The two Mexican jewels in the neighborhood are
Photo Credit: Christa Lopez

The two Mexican jewels in the neighborhood are La Morada, 308 Willis Ave., and the Michelin-rated Mexicocina, 503 Jackson Ave. The latter is revered by foodies, but La Morada is more artsy and its menu begrudges nothing from its elder brother. Chef Natalia Mendez serves up a few must-try dishes including ribs in mole negro sauce, pictured. The dish is served with sides of rice, black beans and chapulines (fried grasshoppers).

Booze it up a little at Bronx Brewery

Grab a drink at the Bronx Brewery, 856
Photo Credit: Bronx Brewery

Grab a drink at the Bronx Brewery, 856 E. 136th St., or at Port Morris Distillery, 780 E. 133rd St. Granted, they're technically in the neighboring Port Morris, but that nabe has so few residents they surely won't mind. If you're exploring in the winter months, that means you can try some Pitorro Coquito -- traditional Puerto Rican moonshine -- at the distillery. Trust us, it's good.

Explore Graffiti 2 Community Ministries

The good folks at the Graffiti 2 Community
Photo Credit: Christa Lopez

The good folks at the Graffiti 2 Community Ministries have a great churchgoing. The nonprofit, located at 335 Beekman Ave., organizes group activities, sports teams and community events. If you ask politely, they can show you the upstairs, a rebuilt (well, almost) synagogue that used to house the Shomrei Shabbos B'nai Israel congregation.

Burn calories by heading to Randall's Island

Head to Randall's Island via the new connector.
Photo Credit: Michael Clyde Johnson

Head to Randall's Island via the new connector. True, St. Mary's Park has you covered for your park needs in Mott Haven, but if you want to go to facility-heavy Randall's Island (and who knows, walk to Astoria or Harlem), the new connector will take you there fast. Along the way you'll see the fanciest railroad crossing in the city.

Kick back and watch the neighborhood

Get a folding chair and watch the neighborhood
Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

Get a folding chair and watch the neighborhood dance or just hang out. Whether you want to join a rapper, dance to some Tito Puente music or a baleful ranchera, the best action is usually on the sidewalks of 138th Street. Don't be bashful and join the fun.

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