About UsPartner With Us

Casa Latina Music

151 East 116th Street
Casa Latina Music 1 Music and Instruments East Harlem

Casa Latina is hailed as the heart of Spanish Harlem, also known to locals as “El Barrio” (meaning “the neighborhood”). Vicente Barreiro, a Spanish immigrant, founded the shop alongside his wife, Christina, in the 1960s, when the area was predominantly Puerto Rican. It specializes in records and musical instruments — particularly percussion instruments like congas, bongos, and cowbells. According to local lore, “If you don't find it in Casa Latina, you don't find it anywhere.”

Vicente fondly recalls how the atmosphere was “electric” back in the day, rife with music and dancing. It was a hotspot for musical legends, from Tito Puente — “the king,” in Vicente’s eyes — to Celiz Cruz. “It’s hard to say a name that hasn’t been in this store.” Although other immigrants from Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and China have now entered the neighborhood, Casa Latina remains a community staple and fuels the original Puerto Rican spirit.

Casa Latina Music 1 Music and Instruments East Harlem
Casa Latina Music 2 Music and Instruments East Harlem
Casa Latina Music 3 Music and Instruments East Harlem

More places on 116th Street

Lost Gem
Amy Ruth's 1 Brunch American Southern Harlem Morningside Heights

Amy Ruth's

My first encounter with Amy Ruth's, a Southern style restaurant in the finest tradition, was during my walk while documenting every place on 116th. The street is enormous, with many delis, convenience stores, hair salons and barber shops, but tucked between these are some marvelous hidden gems. Amy Ruth's is certainly one of them, although, "hidden" is debatable given that the restaurant usually has a line out the door. Once inside, I discovered that the space is endless. There are some smaller nooks, an upstairs area that is open on the weekends, and then a large catering hall for private events.The second time I visited Amy Ruth's, late on a Saturday morning, I brought my husband and friends, as I needed them to enjoy the same experience that I had had. I loved every aspect of this restaurant. From the star-shaped paper lanterns hanging on the ceiling to the murals portraying well known African American figures - including President Obama, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson and Serena and Venus Williams - to the variety of ages and cultures sitting at the tables, and, of course, to the excellent Southern cuisine, the restaurant offers a memorable dining spot for everyone.The opening of Amy Ruth's in 1998 was inspired by Carl Redding's time spent down south visiting his grandmother during the summer months. He chose to stand by her side day in and day out as she prepared meal after meal for her adoring family. Years later, he decided to pay tribute to this wonderful woman by opening up his own restaurant and naming it after his beloved grandmother.This warm family feeling is transmitted to guests as soon as they arrive. Waiting to enter, we began speaking with some of the patrons who were raving about the food. I learned that they queue up almost every weekend for the chicken and waffles - and every other waffle combination imaginable. Needless to say, our meal also consisted primarily of waffles, most of us opting for the variety of fruit toppings, and it was perfect.