B D to Bedford Park Blvd

Head uptown-waay uptown-for cooked goat, an ancient church and lots of grass.

Joshua Ward at Bronx Park

Joshua Ward at Bronx Park Photograph: Dave Sanders

Okay, so after a long train ride, you’re walking up the steps of a subway station—the second-to-last stop on the D line (and the last on the B, which runs weekdays only). Based on your research, you know that the area, like much of the Bronx, used to be farmland and is now mainly middle-class homes. You’re steeling yourself for the megahighway of the Grand Concourse, and remember that Lehman College is nearby. You don’t know much else because, even though you are a well-versed New Yorker, you’ve probably never had a reason to go to the second-to-last stop on the D line. Good thing you’re eternally bored, always curious and ready for adventure. (Not to mention good-looking. Very good-looking.)

Church of St. Philip Neri

Photograph: Dave Sanders

First thing you see exiting the station—besides the Concourse, which is much quieter and suburban street–y than, say the death race of Queens Boulevard—is the Church of St. Philip Neri (3025 Grand Concourse between 202nd and 203rd Sts, Bronx; 718-733-3200), a regal stone chapel. Founded in 1898 but rebuilt seven years ago after a fire, the Tudor-style sanctuary is, well, just look at the picture, taken during Sunday mass. Stunning. Neri serves Italian, Irish, Spanish and Albanian parishioners, “the whole community,” says Vera Galeas, a pastoral associate who is chilling out back, enjoying hot dogs with young and old. She’s from Costa Rica but recommends an “authentic Mexican place around the corner—we had a great lunch there the other day.”

Las Maravillas de Mexico

Photograph: Dave Sanders

Las Maravillas de Mexico (11 Bedford Park Blvd between Jerome and Villa Aves, 718-584-3455), located on a strip of restaurants, bars and 99¢ shops, is authentic—they speak no English and serve steamed goat with rice and nopalito salad. A young couple sipping sodas—he “from New York,” she “from DR”—tells me to hit Fordham Road, a strip of stores blocks away. But it’s too far; I wanna explore this ’hood.

H&M Bakery and Coffee Shop

Photograph: Dave Sanders

So instead, I have dessert—baklava at H&M Bakery and Coffee Shop (18 Bedford Park Blvd between Jerome and Villa Aves, 718-733-7895). “I love their stuff, it’s not too sweet and not too rich,” says Kareem, a young elder-care worker who’s buying a cake. “We’ve been here ten years,” adds Huseyin Yumak, the store’s 13-year-old server, whose family is from Turkey and owns the shop. “I help my mom. I’m going to be a doctor. Try the cheese Danish. It’s my favorite and it’s good.” (Kid don’t lie.)

Yumak shrugs when asked where to go next, but he says he likes “the park,” so I head toward the nearest one, first pausing at Briggs Avenue and East 201st Street to imagine life in the clapboard homes with the stoop-squatting dudes listening to La Mega 97.9.

A block farther, Bronx Park opens itself up—a wide, 718-acre expanse with spots of sunbathers and family picnics. Joshua Ward, 10, smacks a plastic ball around with his aunt Della. “We love it here,” says his mom, 31-year-old paralegal Shawnell Mullins, who moved from Manhattan five years ago. “I work in the city, but up here you get all this.” The sun shining on the trees, her bright smile—kinda makes you wanna move here. Or maybe it just makes you grateful that you’re not spending another Sunday shopping close to home.

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