12 Reasons The Bronx Is Our New Favorite Borough

Photo: Courtesy of Jared Cohee.
When it comes to New York City boroughs that aren't Manhattan, the Bronx is often overshadowed by Brooklyn (thanks to hipsters and Jay Z) and Queens (hello, beer gardens, nature, and amazing Italian food). And, when it does come up, the conversation likely involves Yankee Stadium. Or, Jennifer Lopez. Even Anthony Bourdain — a New Yorker who has ventured all over the world — was surprisingly late to the party on this one.
However, there are plenty of reasons to visit New York's most northern borough that have nothing to do with baseball or Jenny from the Block. As a Bronx native, I may be a tad biased, but between the fresh markets, unrivaled pasta, and outdoor oases, I guarantee you'll be riding the subway uptown to the Boogie Down in no time.
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Photo: Courtesy of Liebman's Delicatessen.
Liebman's Delicatessen
Located in the Riverdale section of the Bronx is one of the few remaining kosher delis in New York City — not to mention, one of the best. Liebman's Delicatessen has been dishing out grade-A comfort food since 1953, and is the go-to place to get your fill of homemade knishes, pickled herring, and brisket with applesauce. Consider it the kitchen of the Jewish grandma you always wished you had.

Liebman's Delicatessen, 552 West 235th Street (between Johnson and Oxford avenues); 718-548-4534.
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Photo: Courtesy of Bronx Documentary Center.
Bronx Documentary Center
Sorry, Brooklyn and Manhattan, but you're not the only two boroughs filled with innovative artistic experiences. The Bronx Documentary Center is a photography, new media, and film sanctuary located on the south side that offers an array of film screenings, photography exhibits, book signings, and more. Aspiring photographers and filmmakers can take part in the center's hands-on workshops (the next one is hosted by award-winning photojournalists Carolyn Cole and Todd Heisler, on November 8), or partake in biweekly meetings with other like-minded individuals.

Bronx Documentary Center, 614 Courtlandt Avenue (at East 151st Street), Bronx; 718-993-3512.
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Photo: Courtesy of Sammy's Shrimp Box.
City Island
Want to escape the city for sand, seafood, a boat ride, and a visit to a seriously awesome historical area, without having to deal with tons of tourists, hipsters, and ridiculously high prices? Then, head to City Island. For the best seafood in New York City, grab a table at Sammy's Shrimp Box or Sammy's Fish Box and chow down on stuffed lobster, chilled shellfish, and fried specialities. If you're looking for more of a quiet, upscale experience (but just as finger-licking good), you'll feel right at home at The Black Whale, or one of the island's yacht clubs.

Sammy's Shrimp Box, 64 City Island Avenue (at Horton Street), Bronx; 718-885-3200.

Sammy's Fish Box, 41 City Island Avenue (at Rochelle Street), Bronx; 718-509-6367.

The Black Whale, 279 City Island Avenue (at Hawkins Street), Bronx; 718-885-3657.
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Photo: Courtesy of NYC Parks.
Poe Park
If the fact that Edgar Allan Poe once lived in this cottage in the Bronx doesn't make you want to visit, maybe the fact that he paid $100 a year in rent will pique your interest. Yes. Apparently, real estate was more affordable in the 1800s. After touring the cottage, where Poe wrote some of his greats (including "The Bells," "Eureka," and "Annabel Lee"), check out some of the park's regular events: women in comedy screenings and talks, arts and crafts activities, and the seasonal greenmarket (which runs every Tuesday through November).

Poe Park, Grand Concourse (between East 192nd Street and East Kingsbridge Road), Bronx.
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Photo: Courtesy of Jared Cohee.
188 Bakery Cuchifritos
There was a time when Bronx blocks were littered with old-school counter spots like 188 Bakery Cuchifritos. And, while those days have come and gone, this is the place to get a classic (and delicious) taste of the past. While you really shouldn't leave the Bronx without trying some authentic Puerto Rican and Dominican cuisine, you can kill two birds with one stone at Cuchifritos, famous for its mofongo and plantains. Aside from the food, the casual setting and flurry of regular customers highlight the best of the borough's culture.

188 Bakery Cuchifritos, 158 East 188th Street (between Creston Avenue and Grand Concourse), Bronx; 718-367-4500.
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Photo: Courtesy of Lloyd's Carrot Cake.
Lloyd's Carrot Cake
Do not leave the Bronx without getting one of Lloyd's famous carrot cakes. People come from all over the five boroughs to this nondescript institution to sample one of its seriously sweet (and delicious) creations. It's even been featured on the Food Network hit The Best Thing I Ever Ate. We suggest trying one of everything — carrot cake with nuts and raisins, red velvet, double chocolate — provided, of course, that you save a slice for us.

Lloyd's Carrot Cake, 6087 Broadway, Bronx; 718-548-9020.
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Photo: Courtesy of RexUSA.
Hip-Hop History
If you've ever listened to basically any rap song, you already know that the Bronx is widely considered to be the official birthplace of hip-hop. And, you can't get a true feel for the Bronx without checking out rap's roots. There are plenty of tour operators that'll show you around; we recommend Hush Tours, where you'll visit the likes of DJ Kool Herc's former house, Hunts Point (where there's a memorial mural dedicated to Big Pun), the Bronx River Houses (where artists like Afrika Bambaataa and DJ Jazzy Jay got their start), and Crotona Park (home to the annual Summer Park Jams hip-hop concert series).
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Photo: Courtesy of Roberto's.
Arthur Avenue
Home to some of the most famous family-run Italian joints in the city, Arthur Avenue is actually considered the real Little Italy by some native New Yorkers. Once the setting of the famous Robert De Niro film A Bronx Tale, this Italian-food-lovers paradise cannot be missed: We recommend Dominick's and Roberto's for some serious carb-loading; Calandras Cheese for rare, delectable finds; and Zero Otto Nove or Café al Mercato for real New York pizza by-the-slice. Don't forget the cannolis.

Dominick's, 2335 Arthur Avenue (between East 184th and East 186th streets), Bronx; 718-733-2807.

Roberto's, 603 Crescent Avenue (at Hughes Avenue), Bronx; 718-733-9503.

Calandra Cheese, 2314 Arthur Avenue (near East 184th Street), Bronx; 718-365-7572.

Zero Otto Nove, 2357 Arthur Avenue (near East 186th Street), Bronx; 718-220-1027.

Café al Mercato, 2344 Arthur Avenue (near East 186th Street), Bronx; 718-364-7681.
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Photo: Courtesy of Wave Hill.
Wave Hill
As much as we love New York, there's no doubt we could all use a break from the noise, soot, and stress every now and then. On those days when we've had enough, we head to the northern-most part of the Bronx, where a 28-acre oasis sits perched above the Hudson River. Between the breathtaking views, the lush vegetation, the cultural events, and the educational activities, Wave Hill offers nature-lovers and solitude-seekers the ideal escape — all just a subway ride away.

Wave Hill, West 249th Street, Bronx; 718-549-3200.
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Photo: Courtesy of WallWorks.
The Bronx is home to some of the most intricate street art in the country. WallWorks, a new art gallery that opened in September, was founded by legendary graffiti artist CRASH and entrepreneur Robert Kantor to showcase works from artists, both new and old. The current group exhibition, "First Taste," features masterpieces by emerging street and graffiti artists.

WallWorks, 39 Bruckner Boulevard (at Alexander Avenue), Bronx; 917-825-9342.
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Photo: Courtesy of Arthur Avenue Retail Market.
Arthur Avenue Retail Market & The Bronx Beer Hall
If you're going to cook a homemade Italian meal, there's no excuse not to get the freshest ingredients in town. Enter the Arthur Avenue Retail Market, where you'll be transported to the open-air markets of Italy. The bazaar's selection of meats, cheeses, pastas, breads, and pastries, will have you serving up la dolce vita in no time. And, once you've gathered ingredients for the evening's feast, swing by the Bronx's only beer hall, located directly inside the market, to sample tasty local brews (fresh from Pelham Bay and City Island) and nosh on warm pretzels and crostini. Just don't spoil your appetite!

Arthur Avenue Retail Market, 2344 Arthur Avenue (between East 186th Street and Crescent Avenue), Bronx; 347-590-6711.

The Bronx Beer Hall, 2344 Arthur Avenue (between East 186th Street and Crescent Avenue), Bronx; 347-396-0555.
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Photo: Courtesy of Havana Cafe.
Bronx Havana Cafe
For Latin-lovers (as in food), don't miss the East Tremont area of the Bronx. Take a quick trip to Cuba by stepping inside the bright, tropically decorated Havana Cafe, where the lively atmosphere and hearty dishes are a welcome relief from the daily grind outside. Be sure to try the grilled churrasco, and chase it with a potent rum cocktail.

Bronx Havana Cafe, 3151 East Tremont Avenue (at La Salle Avenue), Bronx; 718-518-1800.

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