Tuesday, May 26, 2015


Vendy Plaza at La Marqueta, Sundays from Noon-6:00PM  at East 116th and Park Avenue.  Move over Smorgasborg!  Foodies in Manhattan now have an outdoor dining destination that has a wonderful mix of old and new flavors of Harlem.  The revival of La  Marqueta in East Harlem has become a reality based on the successful late Spring launch this past weekend of Vendy Plaza.  El Barrio's traditional market place under the Metro North tracks had hundreds of vendors a few decades ago but by the 80s the decline of the city pretty much shut things down.  With a new $3 million investment from the city,  the outdoor market now has several fully seated platforms along with lighting and electricity which showcases up to a couple of dozen food vendors each week during the warm weather seasons.

This was actually the second event of spring but had all of the locals and politicians out in full force including Mayor de Blasio.  We arrived shortly after noon and by 1:00PM the block was buzzing with curious, hungry food shoppers and longtime locals just hanging out.  What is great about the mix of food sellers at Vendy Plaza is that there are quite a few vendors from the old El Barrio neighborhood represented selling traditional roasted pork, empanadas and rice dishes alongside newer ventures such as the specialty biscuit bakery, wood oven pizza or Indian samosa stand.

There were also traditional Harlem offerings such as southern barbecue, Jamaican flavored soul food from Mighty Edibles and the absolutely refreshing cold press watermelon juice from the guys at H2Melon.  A strong majority of uptown merchants were on hand but the coconut guy from Buschwick gets a shout out for cracking the fresh fruit open with a special hammer that puts a hole in the shell which perfectly fits a straw.  Beer and wine are also served on site for those who want a little bit more out of their afternoon but we were too busy checking out all of the delicious food options.

For a Sunday culinary adventure, we highly recommend Vendy Plaza and really see this new incarnation of La Marqueta growing even bigger in the next few years.  The Urban Garden Center is also just on the north side of the block so there are many reason to drop by for a couple of hours on the historic site and tasting a few of specialties at the plaza is definitely more pocket friendly than heading out for a tradtional brunch.


The storefront for Buffalo Wild Wings is still in the drywall installation phase but new signage has been   placed up high at the Harlem USA commercial complex on 125th Street at the corner of FDB.  There actually are a couple of other wing shops opening on 125th but this notable chain will probably be the one to watch out for.  It is not really our thing but foot traffic on uptown's commercial corridor is more like the rest of Manhattan's major crossroads such as 14th Street or 42nd Street so this does make sense.  All of the smaller boutique businesses will populate the avenues and sides streets so there will be something for every taste level.  Uptowners have not had this many dining options in decades and there is room for businesses to test out what will work in Harlem's new economy.


A newly renovated 4-bedroom apartment in Hamilton Heights on 143rd Street just west of Amsterdam Avenue is up on the market for $3,000 a month.  The location is a short walk to the express trains on 145th Street and there are a lot of new amenities opening in the neighborhood almost every other week. The listing has 1 bathroom indicated at the header but in the lower paragraph states there are actually 2 baths so this makes a lot of sense as one of the better deals in Manhattan.  More on the broker site: LINK


Uptowners who want to be by the waterfront finally have discovered the West Harlem Piers at 125th Street by the Hudson River.  This was actually the location of a huge ferry station up until the 1960s but the city dismantled that mode of travel and the area was a parking lot for some time decades after.  After years of community planning, a new pedestrian pier debuted in 2008 with views of the George Washington Bridge, newly planted foliage and lawn to lay out on.  In the warmer months, the bike paths that lead all the way downtown are heavily used and now sunbathers have discovered the discrete green patch by the water.  Frankly it has been pretty much underused until recently and we noticed that more folks have been enjoying this hidden treasure in recent months.  Fairway is also at the northern section of the piers so getting food and refreshments is an easy enough venture.


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