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Just one train stop away from Manhattan on the 6, you’ll find the coolest neighborhood in the South Bronx. Mott Haven (or Port Morris, depending on where you’re standing) is home to up-and-coming places to eat, drink and immerse yourself in local culture. From grabbing a bite at a hip-hop-themed restaurant to perusing the neighborhood’s excellent bookstore, here are seven spots not to miss.

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coolest things to do in mott haven the lit bar
Courtesy of the Lit. Bar

1. Read a book and sip some wine at The Lit. Bar

After the closing of the borough’s Barnes & Noble in 2017, owner Noelle Santos set out to create the only indie bookstore in The Bronx. (Did we mention it’s black-owned and woman-owned?) Part bookstore, part wine bar, The Lit. Bar’s goal is to bring the community together and promote literacy. Aside from the wine selection and the growing section of local Bronx authors, the bookstore hosts events, poetry slams and children’s storytime.

131 Alexander Ave. between 134th St and Bruckner Blvd.; thelitbar.com

Port Morris Distillery

2. Learn about a speciality spirit at the Port Morris Distillery

If you’ve already visited the Bronx Brewery, you need to check out Port Morris Distillery. The micro distillery produces pitorro, a Puerto Rican moonshine traditionally brought out on special occasions and holidays. (Port Morris’s version is fermented from New York State apples, honey and brown sugar.) You’ll have the opportunity to take a tour led by one of the owners, taste a few of the spirit variations (sweet or spicy) and buy a bottle of your own for your next brunch.

780 East 133rd St.; portmorrisdistillery.com

3. Deck yourself out in Bronx merch from The Bronx Native

Nothing says BX pride like a whole store dedicated to the borough. The Bronx Native is not only stocked with apparel (like “Bronxtrepreneur” tees and a beanie emblazoned with “Okurrr”), it’s become a creative space for artists. Whether holding poetry slams or promoting local artists’ street art on their walls, the shop is dedicated to celebrating the Bronx and representing all it has to offer. (Oh, and AOC is a big fan.) 

127 Lincoln Ave; www.bronxnative.com

4. Dig into brunch at Mott Haven Bar & Grill

Heads up, non-Bronx dwellers: The best brunch places aren’t all in Brooklyn and Manhattan. From sweet potato waffle sliders to pork belly benedict, Mott Haven Bar & Grill has the kind of Sunday morning menu we dream about. If brunch isn’t your thing (which is insane, but OK), stop by for happy hour or open mic nights and hear locals try their hand (er, voice) at karaoke.

1 Bruckner Blvd; 718-665-2001

5. Jam out and grab a bite at Beatstro

Just next door to the Lit. Bar, Beatstro pays homage the borough’s musical legacy. The hip-hop-themed restaurant features a Latin and soul food menu, plus a weekend “Beats & Brunch” that turns into a full-on party (and you can’t go wrong with unlimited mimosas). And if the food and music aren’t enough to book a reservation, the aesthetic—graffiti art and gold speakers on the walls—will definitely upgrade your IG. 

135 Alexander Ave.; 718-489-9397 or www.beatstro.com

6. Crack open a cold one at Bricks & Hops

Looking for a change of scenery? Bricks & Hops feels like an escape from the bustling city. It’s a beer garden with daily happy hour and lunch specials, weekend brunches and local Bronx beverages. (You can even grab yourself a certain NYC staple: a good ol’ chopped cheese.)

65 Bruckner Blvd.; 718-450-3991 or bricksandhops.com

7. Dive into the art world at WallWorks

Think outside the MoMA: WallWorks is a contemporary art gallery showcasing work from emerging and existing NYC artists. Created by graffiti pioneer John "Crash" Matos, the space encourages people to immerse themselves in the culture of the borough.

39 Bruckner Blvd.; wallworksny.com 

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