Mela's Cafe serves only breakfast and lunch plus catering for special events. The restaurant runs daily specials, but the regular prices remain fantastic. Stop in for a Cuban panini or a baked pernil sandwich. Local favorite El Salvadoreno dishes up Salvadorian cuisine at low prices. Customers come more for food than decor, and regulars insist you can't leave without sampling the pupusas, a thick, handmade corn tortilla that forms the foundation of many dishes. The huevos rancheros also get full marks, as do the glasses of silky horchata.
For sandwich and breakfast fare, head to the North Star Cafe, where customers crowd around the smoothie station to make their own. Regulars love the large selection of quesadillas and Caesar salads, and many claim the breakfast specials are the neighborhood's best. Roy's Restaurant serves budget sandwiches and great Spanish-roasted pork along with strong cups of coffee, while Jimbos Hamburger Palace cooks up big, juicy burgers and chicken gyros that win fans.
In Nearby Belmont,
the Bronx Beer Hall is the place to go for craft brews. The busy spot in the middle of the Arthur Avenue Market has a raw but modern feel, boasting high ceilings snaked with pipes and white subway tiles. The staff pours a rotating selection of small batch brews, including Gun Hill from the Bronx and McKenzie's hard cider from upstate New York, along with bottled beers and a short wine list. The solid bar food menu keeps customers satisfied with paninis and burgers while they join in on trivia nights, and live bands sometimes play.
Those looking to relax should visit the Istanbul Cafe, a hookah bar and lounge in nearby Van Nest.
DJs spin for the laid-back crowds, and though the establishment charges a modest cover fee on weekends, regulars say the friendly staff and home-like atmosphere make the visit worth it.