NYPost Columnist Zach Kussin's Local Guide To Washington Heights
Soho might have the designer shops and Meatpacking might have the restaurants. But for that local vibe, you to need to take the subway. Journy co-founder Leiti Hsu recently caught up with NYPost Real Estate and Travel columnist (not to mention Washington Heights resident) Zach Kussin to get his insider tips on the best way to experience the neighborhood like a local. Propcy [http://blog.propcy.com/nyc-neighborhood-report-washington-heights/] Kussin himself was a bit of a tourist when he first
Soho might have the designer shops and Meatpacking might have the restaurants. But for that local vibe, you to need to take the subway.
Journy co-founder Leiti Hsu recently caught up with NYPost Real Estate and Travel columnist (not to mention Washington Heights resident) Zach Kussin to get his insider tips on the best way to experience the neighborhood like a local.
Kussin himself was a bit of a tourist when he first moved Uptown. "I moved to Washington Heights last year and bought a place without knowing about the neighborhood before. All I knew was that it was cheaper."
Washington Heights sits at the northernmost tip of Manhattan, where the Island abuts the Bronx. It's served by the 1, A and C trains. A ride to the 168th Street subway station from Union Square takes about 40 minutes, from Times Square it's about 30 minutes.
"[Washington Heights] is a community that's still very much authentic to its working class, Dominican nature... But at the same time there are a lot of cool, new restaurants. Most come from locals who've lived there forever."
Start your exploration at the 145th Street station, which makes the ideal jumping off point for venturing up Broadway as you to explore the area's bars, galleries and restaurants.
Kussin recommends starting at ROKC. Pronounced "rock," the name is an acronym for "Ramen, Oysters, Kitchen, Cocktails." With distressed white washed walls and wood tables, the restaurant feels like a cross between a Downtown industrial hangout and an old-school bar. The restaurant was founded by the duo behind New York's cocktail sensation, Angel Share. The cocktails at ROKC are similarly show-stopping and hover between intentionally sweet and brilliantly boozy. After a round or two, move on to the ramen, which Kussin insists is some of the best in the city. Rather than opt for heavy tonkotsu broth, ROKC uses a combination of fish, chicken and vegetable broths, meaning you can walk away from your bowl without a pork belly baby.
Also noteworthy is The Honeywell on Broadway between 148th and 149th streets. Unlike slick Downtown bars, The Honeywell exudes a comfy-kitsch atmosphere with plates that look like they were nabbed from your grandma's cupboard (there are also old copies of Playboy hidden in teak magazine stands). The bar is located in a basement and the low lighting is perfect for getting in the boozing mood. Cocktails tend toward tiki—think mezcal with peppers and pineapple. If you order right, you could be drinking from a lava lamp or an electric yellow bong…
Not all restaurants in the area are designed to shock. Some, like Mama Sushi, would rather experiment with unconventional cuisine combos. In this case, it's Japanese food by way of the Dominican Republic. Think sushi rolls with fried cheese, salami and salmon. Skeptical? Don't be, says Kussin. "After going to Japan I thought I was never going to eat sushi in New York again because that was the low brow version. And then I went to Mama Sushi and thought: this is funny and good and interesting. It proves that there is good, cool innovative thought in food."
Innovation and fusion also characterizes the neighborhood's art scene. At the Gitler&___ Gallery on Broadway between 149th and 150th, you can catch monthly rotating exhibits that feature artists from around the world. Owner Avi Gitler takes regular trips to India where he searches for up-and-coming artists that have yet to be discovered by the American art scene. Recent shows include everything from Damien Hoar de Galvan's petite wood sculptures to Nakul Mondal's realistic portraits.
The gallery has also partnered with the local Audubon Society. Together they commission street art murals of various wild life. Some murals are small and brighten up boarded windows, like the Brown Pelican painted by Jason Covert on 149th Street. Others can only be seen when stores are closed, like the bald eagle that stares down pedestrians from the closed storefront a Nail salon at 3623 Broadway. Then there are some that cover entire apartment blocks like artist Gaia's multi-bird mural that graces the front of a building on 157th Street. There's a map on the Audubon society website to aid your tour.
Washington Heights is a neighborhood in flux and one that's continuing to develop at a surprising rate. With so much going on, you might just have to swap your Downtown haunts for some Uptown ones.