Neighborhoods

Parks, Arts, and Eats of Hunts Point

Diego León, the man behind ”Dandy in the Bronx,” shows us favorite spots in his neighborhood

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Diego León is the son of Ecuadorean immigrants and a native of Hunts Point, where he still lives today. He earned a master’s in education and worked as a preschool teacher before launching his current venture, a menswear and lifestyle blog called Dandy in the Bronx.

When I was growing up, Concrete Plant Park (Bronx River between Westchester Avenue and Bruckner Boulevard) was just this graveyard of a once-existing concrete plant. For me, the architecture looked cool. I guess the people behind it thought the same thing. So they left a lot of the infrastructure of the plant and built a park around it. It reminds me of a Sonic the Hedgehog level with all the ramps and stuff, surrounded by green hills. The Bronx River passes right by it. People use it for barbecues, to run, and it’s photogenic. Also, the Bronx River Alliance meets there sometimes to go kayaking.

If you go deeper into Hunts Point, there are a lot of warehouses and factories. City Tamale (1316 Oak Point Avenue) is just a little tamale place. The owner, Israel Veliz, just wants to have the best tamales ever. All the factory workers go to him. He’s open at 5:30 in the morning and serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. He also has gluten-free and vegetarian options.

The Point (940 Garrison Avenue) is an event space in Hunts Point where people host concerts, events — actually, a friend of mine told me he saw a wrestling match there! So there are a bunch of things happening. If you’re a family guy, there are always arts and crafts events. There are spoken word events, a lot of poetry readings. Awhile back, they had this T-shirt-making workshop where kids could come in and design T-shirts and they’d print them out. You’ve just gotta check their calendar, because there’s always something happening. There’s a café there as well!

When I think of New York City pizza — you know, big slice, greasy as hell, people patting it down with a paper towel — I think of Tetaj Brothers Pizzeria (957 Aldus Street). Growing up, whenever I had friends over and we wanted to get something easy to eat, we’d get a pie there. A pie, some garlic knots, and you’re set.

Yes She Can! Mural (825 Hunts Point Avenue) — there are a bunch of art initiatives happening in Hunts Point, including a lot of really cool graffiti. Seeing women in positions of power in a positive light, especially women of color — there’s no reason not to showcase that.

Hunts Point Library (877 Southern Boulevard) has been my library since forever. I remember going there as a kid, using their computers. They had computer classes and one-on-one sessions. Obviously, it’s so much more advanced now. But I remember going there with my aunt, taking out three or four books, researching. Nowadays, they have a lot of group reading sessions, and an amazing kids’ section. You can check out magazines, movies, and music — with your free library card! And they have Wi-Fi, so it’s a place you can just work and chill.

Casa Amadeo (786 Prospect Avenue) has been around for, like, a billion years. It specializes in Latin and Caribbean music. Sometimes there are performances or random jam sessions. My Spanish isn’t great, but just being able to listen, hearing people talk, hearing the stories — and, of course, you can’t beat dancing to authentic Latin music up in there! And there’s something about having a physical piece of music in front of you — whether it’s an album, a cassette, whatever — that feeling is something you can never get from an MP3.

The Bronx ranks 62nd in health in New York State. But there are healthy places if you want to get something easy. You can get a nice smoothie at Hunts Point Juice Bar (620 Manida Street) for when you start your juice cleanse. You don’t have to get that Diet Coke! My favorite is a peanut butter smoothie with blueberries, banana, strawberry — and extra peanut butter, please!

The Village Voice is exploring one borough per day for the week of April 2, 2018. For full coverage to date, visit our Neighborhoods Week 2018 page.

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