West Farms – Bronx, NY

Located 10 miles from Midtown Manhattan, West Farms is a neighborhood in the southwest Bronx. The Bronx Park -- home of the Bronx Zoo -- is the neighborhood's northern border. I-95 runs along the south side of West Farms. The Crotona Parkway Malls hugs the west end, while the Bronx River flows along the east side. Surrounded by nature, West Farms offers a unique combination of traditional brick apartment buildings along wide sidewalks, typical for a Bronx neighborhood, and more unexpected natural elements. Along the waterfront, the Bronx River Art Center fosters a fledgling artists' community and hosts neighborhood events, while cooks can walk to nearby Arthur Avenue for some of the city's best Italian food shopping. Cheap rents make West Farms unusually affordable for New York, and subway riders have a 35-minute commute into Midtown Manhattan.

Schools in West Farms

School data provided by GreatSchools

Restaurants & Nightlife

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.

History & Culture

West Farms was originally part of Westchester County. This large county was first explored in 1524 by Giovanni da Verrazzano, and again in 1609 by Henry Hudson. The settlements in the county were first established by the Dutch West India Company. They lost control of the area to the English in 1664, and in 1683 the Province of New York was created. This British colony included all of New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Vermont, and even parts of Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Maine. It wasn't until 1846 that West Farms, along with Fordham and Morrisania, were taken from Westchester to help form the Bronx. Today, several galleries stand at the river's edge. At the Bronx River Art Center, artists work in modern studios, kids take classes, and locals come to BRAC's Bronx River Sounds festival for free live music, from Bomba to rap. Visitors meet over 4,000 animals at the Bronx Zoo, including tigers and gorillas, and the New York Botanical Garden enchants with rose gardens and 100-year-old bonsai trees.

Transportation

West Farms, like the rest of New York City, remains a walking neighborhood where locals run errands and trek to their favorite take-out joints on foot. Just over 70 percent of residents here live car-free, relying instead on the subway. Commuters take the 2 or 5 trains from the West Farms Square-Tremont Avenue station, reaching midtown Manhattan in about 35 minutes. Local buses provide additional service, including route 19 to Harlem and routes 40 and 42 to Throgs Neck. Few yellow cabs cruise here, but South Bronx car service companies give you a lift if you call. Many locals just hail livery cabs, also called black town cars or gypsy cabs, which have car service vehicle licenses but often pick up curb-side passengers anyway. The phone-hailing app Uber services the area, but wait times vary considerably. Major highways and interstates ring the Bronx, and drivers in West Farms can take I-895 and I-278 to reach Manhattan in about 15 minutes, barring traffic. For trips into Queens and New Jersey, the Cross Bronx Expressway waits nearby, turning into I-95 for longer trips out of the metro area. Parking poses a hassle, since the free street spots fill up fast after rush hour and alternate side parking requires you move your vehicle every few days. However, several pay-to-park lots on Crotona Parkway offer a back-up plan. Cyclists can chart a course on Crotona Parkway's dedicated bike lane to Crotona Park or Bronx Park. Near Bronx Park, riders can also pick up the Bronx Greenway, a 19-mile, multi-use path stretching to Pelham Bay. Every October, thousands of bike enthusiasts converge in High Bridge for the state's largest free-cycling event, taking over the roads on a 25-mile tour of the borough.

Cost

New York tops the chart of America's most expensive cities, but West Farms residents catch a break on housing, paying 67 percent less than the city average. A one-bedroom apartment in West Farms typically rents for around $1,150 per month. Groceries and utilities fall within the city's average, but affordable restaurants help keep budgets in check, and a beer at a nearby bar sets you back about $6. Gas prices run 10 percent higher than the national average, and subway riders pay $2.50 for a one-way fare into Manhattan or $30 for a weekly unlimited pass.

Shopping

The New Horizons Shopping Mall is located just south of West Farms, on the other side of the Cross Bronx Expressway. This mall includes TJ Maxx, Game Stop, and Petland. Those looking to get inked can check out the talent at InkStudio Tattoos on Tremont Avenue by viewing the shop's Instagram feed, which features impressively soft colors and fluid lines. The clean, renovated storefront puts clients at ease, and the staff patiently works with customers to develop polished ideas from sketches and brainstorms. Inside the gift shop at the Bronx Zoo, kids can cuddle with the stuffed animal versions of their favorites, from tigers and leopards to ring-tailed lemurs. The shelves also stock zoo-emblazoned T-shirts as well as plastic animal masks, squishy lizards, and key chains galore. Locals shop for weekly groceries at Pioneer Supermarket or run for last-minute staples at the neighborhood's bodegas and delis. Curious cooks and bargain hunters come to MacCa Live Poultry on Morris Park Avenue to choose a live chicken in person before the butcher shop slaughters and dresses it, sending customers home with the freshest meat possible. For Italian ingredients, residents can trek to the Teitel Brothers Wholesale Grocery on nearby Arthur Avenue, where customers come from every borough to stock up on heavenly prosciutto and an impressive cheese selection from fresh mozzarella to aged Gouda, all at extremely reasonable prices.

Parks

Large, lush parks border West Farms, giving residents easy access to grassy fields, playgrounds, and shaded paths for jogging and biking. For quick play dates, parents bring kids to Vidalia Park in the heart of the neighborhood, which has a playground and basketball courts. To the north, Bronx Park welcomes visitors with 718 acres of open fields and wooded paths, along with the Bronx Zoo and New York Botanical Garden. Joggers and cyclists pass through one of the city's only remaining red-maple hardwood forests along the Bronx River Greenway, which follows the river and gives waterfront access to kayaks. Several soccer fields and baseball diamonds let visitors play pick-up games, along with basketball and tennis courts, while parents find seven playgrounds throughout the park. Fishermen cast off for freshwater catches in the Soundview lagoon, and dog owners bring pups to the park's northern tip to run and explore off-leash. Families come to Crotona Park on summer days to cool down in the free Olympic-size Crotona Pool and picnic at the grilling stations. Kids can play in the 11 playgrounds or look for turtles and ducks on the three-acre lake. Bands play here for free summer concerts, including past performances by Joell Ortiz and Slick Rick, as well as recitals staged by the Metropolitan Opera. Baseball fields and courts for basketball and tennis wait here, and dogs can roam off-leash throughout Crotona, so long as they don't join in on the playgrounds and athletic fields.
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