Bordered by Dyckman (200th) Street to the south and the Harlem River to the north, Inwood is culturally, architecturally and demographically divided by Broadway. The west side is home to the nabe's remaining Jewish and Irish populations (which flourished from the postwar era until the '70s), as well as a burgeoning community of performers, gay folk and artists.
East of Broadway lies a thriving Latino (mainly Dominican) stronghold, and the area is peppered with discount stores, street vendors and empanada carts. At Dyckman Street's teeming DR-K restaurant (114 Dyckman St; 212-304-1717)??”the joint stands out a mile away with its sleek acid-glass facade??”you'll find gussied-up diners ordering Dominican specialties such as the duo de mofongos ($18), a combination of steaming pork and seafood tidbits in a mashed-plantain shell. Walk west toward the Hudson River and discover the Tubby Hook Caf? (348 Dyckman St; 212-567-8086), which serves fried shrimp, along with hot Latin bands and DJs on weekends. On Fridays in October, the Turntables on the Hudson party is in the house, encouraging nightlife junkies to head north and drink in the waterside hostelry's heady views.
Stride up Broadway and pass the Dyckman Farmhouse Museum (4881 Broadway; 212-304-9422), built in 1795, which is undergoing repairs. Continue north and find the subway yards (207th??“215th Sts), where early graffiti artists developed their craft. The steep and cinematic outdoor staircase at 215th Street??”leading to the million-dollar private homes situated among co-ops and choice rentals at Park Terrace??”is prominent in Inwood native Jim Carroll's harrowing book The Basketball Diaries.
When you reach 214th Street, pop into Carrot Top (5025 Broadway; 212-569-1532) for a wedge of scrumptious carrot cake. Turn left on 218th Street, toward Indian Road (one of only two "Roads" in Manhattan, the other being Peter Cooper Road in Stuyvesant Town) and amble into Scavengers (600 W 218th St; 212-569-8343)??”a tiny shop where thrifty style-hounds hunt down vintage clothes, antiques and collectibles. When you reach Inwood Hill Park, be sure to inspect the view of the boathouse, Salt Marsh and Henry Hudson Bridge, before casting an eye over the Art Deco apartment buildings that line Indian Road.
Cross the park's immaculate lawns and you'll find an encircled boulder marking the site of the biggest real- estate swindle in history: In 1626, Peter Minuit is said to have bought Manhattan from the Canarsee Indians for $24 in beads and trinkets. Ahead of you lies the last bit of primitive forest in Manhattan, a six-mile strip of dense woodland, home to tulip trees and red-backed salamanders.
Rejoin civilization at 207th Street where 207 Art (634 W 207th St; 212-304-0621), the local gallery and cultural performance venue, stands between Cooper Street and Broadway. Then make for bustling Irish restaurant the Piper's Kilt (4944 Broadway; 212-569-7071), for a succulent Bronx Bomber burger ($6.75), smothered with Swiss cheese and fried onions, and addictive beer-batter onion rings ($5.25). Take your bulging belly down the 207th Street subway steps, and sleep off the grubfest on the ride home.??”Clare Lambe