Where To Eat In Mott Haven

These restaurants are as good a reason to hang out in the South Bronx as watching grown men in pinstripes play baseball.
Where To Eat In Mott Haven image

photo credit: David A. Lee

Mott Haven has a bunch of buildings that exemplify residential architecture from the early 1860s, and if you head to 141st Street, you can see the oldest church in the borough (St. Ann’s Episcopal). But that’s not why you’re here. You just want to know where to get some great pupusas, tacos, and ribs in the neighborhood. From restaurants that have been around for years to newer spots close to the waterfront, here’s where you should be eating.


photo credit: David A. Lee

Puerto Rican

Mott Haven

$$$$Perfect For:LunchCasual Weeknight DinnerSerious Take-Out OperationQuick Eats
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With its long counter and round chrome swivel stools, La Isla looks like a diner that opened several decades ago, and it seems like half the customers at this cash-only Puerto Rican spot come here at least once a week. We recommend the big plate of bacalao with slices of boiled eggs and the huge cuchifritos platter with stomach, ultra-tender tongue, and blood sausage. You can get out of here with enough food for four meals and still pay less than what you would for one entrée at a lot of restaurants in the city.

This BBQ spot makes exceptional smoked chicken wings with a dry rub, along with a ton of other meats (ribs, turkey breast, and pork belly burnt ends, for example) and sides like cheesy potatoes and green beans with bacon. The space looks like a tavern where you want to have several pints, and there's plenty of seating, so this place is perfect for a big, casual group meal. We recommend coming during their weekday Happy Hour (from 3-6pm, Tuesday to Friday) to load up on wings and baked beans with pineapple and pieces of tender brisket.

photo credit: Noah Devereaux

La Morada is a casual Mexican spot with a huge menu, and, much like Donald Glover and most decathletes, this place does pretty much everything well. The tamales are great, and we’d gladly eat an entire meal consisting of the crunchy gorditas and any of the tacos. But the real reason you come here is the mole. They serve five different kinds, and our favorite is the mole oaxaqueño. It’s rich, spicy, and possibly more complex than any equation currently being worked on by mathematicians and/or Nobel laureates.

Maisonetta looks like a European bistro, and it's a great place to bring a date and share a bottle of Côtes du Rhône and some small plates. The food here is French and Mexican (not a fusion of both). Our favorite thing to start with is the fruit-forward de la calle salad with green apples and mango. Follow that up with the quesadillas stuffed with grilled steak and two kinds of cheese. Their baguettes are warm and crusty, so make sure you have plenty on hand to dip into the moules-frites with coconut-ginger broth.

This gelateria in Mott Haven makes us happy—mainly because of their beachy hot pink decor, but also because they serve gelato (duh). You can get your basic flavors like vanilla, chocolate, and peanut butter, but they also have more interesting varieties like malabi and amarena. Sorbets and vegan flavors are also available, and if you order a scoop in a cup, they still stick a cone in there. Every place should do this. There’s nowhere to sit inside, but there are colorful chairs and tables on the sidewalk.

This large Honduran spot in Mott Haven is more than just a place to eat. People come to watch sports on TV, and the space features a jukebox and two pool tables. The food is another reason to come. For a variety of things on one plate, order the special breakfast platter. It has eggs, refried beans, plantains, and a protein. (We like the beef that’s a little chewy like jerky.) You can wrap everything in flour tortillas that are almost as thick as pita bread. Be sure to order some pupusas on the side. They’re our favorite things here.



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Themed menus based around specific ingredients often read like Iron Chef challenges. But at Chocobar Cortés—a Mott Haven spot with bright yellow walls and black and white checkered floors—the chocolate-centric menu feels fun. There’s a club sandwich on chocolate mallorca bread, a grilled cheese with chocolate butter, and even something called a Chocoburger. Be sure to take advantage of the extensive hot chocolate menu. The Puerto Rican 80% dark version (served with cheese) is worth a visit all on its own.

If you want some deeply satisfying food—perhaps when you need something to soak up the remains of your night out—Kori’s Eats should be your go-to spot in Mott Haven. They have many variations on chicken and waffles, so if you want a combo of chicken tenders and bacon-infused waffles, you can get it here. They also have a steam tray filled with things like oxtail, mac and cheese, and some of the best sweet, spicy, fall-apart braised ribs we’ve had. This place is mostly takeout, but there are a few tables if you want to eat in.

Llame Ya is about the size of a closet—not a normal one, but a New York City one. So don’t plan to come here for a sit-down meal with your friends. The name of this place tells you what you should order. They have a variety of big $5 tacos (carnitas, tripa, and tinga, for example) that come with thick slices of cucumber and grilled scallion bulbs. As for their fresh-made juices, go for the classic green one. It’s the perfect thing to drink on scorching hot days when you (foolishly) think to yourself: “I kind of miss winter.”

Mottley Kitchen is the kind of cafe everyone wants to have in their neighborhood. It’s big, airy, and filled with cheeky merch that feels genuinely representative of the area. They make a very good cup of coffee, and if you’re not in a rush, it’s worth trying the spiced Moroccan version, which takes a few extra minutes to prepare. There’s a good selection of sandwiches and baked goods, as well as tons of seating, outlets, and wifi.

Mae Mae serves a vegan Latin-inspired menu, with plenty of coffee drinks like horchata lattes. It also doubles as a shop that sells plants, which are situated all around and in between tables. This all-day cafe in Mott Haven opens early, when you can get a breakfast burrito that any non-vegan would be happy with and some plant-based pastries. (We recommend the zucchini muffin.) For lunch, try the mushroom mole tacos or huitlacoche quesadilla made with ingredients from the owner’s upstate farm, which also produces a great pineapple hot sauce that you should put on everything here.

Bronx Slice is a pizza joint with a big “Welcome to the South Bronx” sign and a pepperoni pie on the ceiling. They have at least 10 different kinds of pizza that you can get by the slice, including a surprising number of chicken varieties (Buffalo, bacon ranch, BBQ, and more). But we prefer the plain slice, which is the best way to appreciate their mostly crispy, slightly chewy crust. Calzones, garlic knots, and beef patties are also available. You can eat everything at a couple of counters, but there are no tables or chairs.

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