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Washington Heights Strip Teeming with New Bars and Restaurants

By DNAinfo Staff on April 9, 2012 8:08am

Bartender Jessica Cates at Locksmith.
Bartender Jessica Cates at Locksmith.
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DNAinfo / Gloria Dawson

By Gloria Dawson

Special to DNAinfo

WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — The valley in Washington Heights is hopping.

New restaurants and bars have joined the long-standing bodegas, beauty shops and discount stores in the valley below Fort Tryon Park along Broadway from 190th to 192nd Streets.

The crowds are diverse and laid back, and although more restaurants and bars mean more competition, “there’s a team effort on the block,” says Jaime Coons, the manager of Locksmith Wine and Burger Bar, on Broadway near 192nd Street.

“Everything that pops up brings more foot traffic,” says Coons of the fast changing area.

Washington Heights residents have a more diverse range of places to walk to these days for food, drinks and music, as well as a new place to live: there are several luxury apartment buildings that opened in the past year, including one which takes up about half the block on Broadway near 190th Street.

So where should residents new and old head for a night or day out in the neighborhood? We picked a few of our newer favorite spots to hit in the Heights.

Buddha Beer Bar

Buddha Beer Bar manager Ryan Duffy proudly states: “We do not serve Bud.” But they’re Zen about it, as the name of the bar would suggest.

“We’re not beer snobs. We’re beer geeks. If you ask for a Bud we’ll direct you,” Duffy says. Direct you to one of the bar’s 24 non-Bud beers on tap, that is.

If you’re here for food you’ll have a wide variety of options too. The menu is a mix of Korean, Mexican and traditional bar options. On the menu there’s a diverse range from burgers (made from grass fed beef), fried Brussel sprouts, empanadas and various kimchi dishes.

There may well be Buddhists among the neighborhood's patrons, but sports are what’s really honored here — there are nine TVs around the bar showing all the games. If you'd rather catch a different show in your own living room, you could always get a growler (64 oz) of the bar’s beer to go.

Open for brunch, lunch, dinner and drinks at 4476 Broadway. 646.861.2595.

Locksmith Wine and Burger Bar

This bar used to be — you guessed it — a locksmith shop. When it was transformed into a bar the owners kept the large locksmith sign that hangs on one side of the cozy space, along with the giant key hung above the bar.

You’ll get to know your neighbors here while sipping a beer, a glass of vino or a cocktail. If you’re lucky, bartender Jessica Cates will be pouring your drink. She’s been serving with a smile here for three years.

For something more substantial she recommends the build your own burger option (especially the veggie burger), the sliders or one of bar’s six varieties of fries.

If you can squeeze your way in the bar during football season, Locksmith serves 25 cent wings, and for surviving the first day of the work week they offer 50 cent wings every Monday. Get them while they’re hot.

Open for brunch, lunch, dinner and drinks, 4463 Broadway. 212.304.9463.

Apt. 78

This laid back lounge is a wonderful counterpoint to some of the more clubby establishments nearby. Low lights, comfy chairs and local art on display make this a perfect spot for a date or an after-work drink.

Sandwiches, beer and wine are on offer, but the cocktails and sangria are the hits here. Speaking of hits there's a DJ spinning a couple of nights a week.

The owner, Jose Morales, grew up in the neighborhood and also owns La Sala 78, the Inwood coffee shop and café. 1978 is the year he was born. Back when Morales was growing he had to go downtown to go out. He wants to be part of the renaissance of the neighborhood and he’s well on his way to achieving that goal.

Open for dinner and drinks daily, with a Wednesday Night after work party and Thursday night Live Jazz, at 4447 Broadway, 646.490.4657.

Check out DNAinfo's Beatz & Eatz, a month-long celebration of food and music in Upper Manhattan.