Hell’s Kitchen

Back to NYC Eats… and Drinks!

Amy’s Bread, 672 9th Ave [BAKERY]
– The Hell’s Kitchen branch of Amy’s bakes a lot of the stuff you see on their counters – all of it is excellent, especially their cookies! Worth the wait in line!

Ariana Kebab Restaurant, 787 9th Ave [AFGHANI]
This tiny Hell’s Kitchen eatery serves up some great Kebabs (both Lamb and Beef), a delightful Chicken Curry – very different from the Indian variety – and some amazingly good Phirnee (Rice based desert). The owner is quite a personality, taking on the roles of host, chef and server!!

Aura Thai AKA Zoob Zib , 462 9th Ave [THAI]
– One of 5 Thai eateries, owned by the same set of people, along a 1-mile stretch of 9th Ave, this is one of the best! A weekly lunch hot spot, I would recommend their Pad Thai, Char Grilled Moo Yang and Lemongrass Chicken.

Balkanika, 691 9th Ave [BALKAN / MEDITERRANEAN / WINE BAR]
This is the more spacious, if not as buzzing, version of Kashkaval, which lies a few blocks north on the same avenue. Marketplace up front selling all the Mediterranean goodies, a long bar featuring an extensive Wine list and a good selection of Balkan Beers, and ample seating adjacent to it. Their Mezes are great value for money and the 2 that especially stood out for me were the Leek Ezme and the Roast Eggplant.

Beer Authority, 300W 40th St [BAR / ROOFTOP]
– Sure, the area had a Heartland Brewery prior to this, but that was within the building that houses the Port Authority Bus Terminal! The Beer Authority’s close enough, but not within it – in short, a winner! This 3-level space, including a well sized rooftop area for the warmer months, has a huge line up of Beer, on tap and by the bottle. All, including Bid Lite’s, priced at 8 bucks – a little strange! Other than that, this is an extremely convenient location in which to get an after work drink, or a pre-commute one, as the case may be.

Beer Culture, 328W 45th St [BAR]
– A great addition to the neighborhood, one that’s tucked away mid-block on a side street, almost out of reach from the crowd of tourists that throng this part of midtown! Beer Culture offers a huge selection of brews – some on tap, and a majority of them in bottles or cans in their large refrigerated section. Doesn’t get overly crowded either, unless of course word has gotten out by now!

Ben’s Deli, 209W 38th St [JEWISH]
– Go hungry if you can! Their Pastrami or Corned Beef sandwiches are sure to fill you up! Cole Slaw and Pickles are an added bonus in this old school establishment. Also recently tried their Chopped Liver Sandwich, with a side of Hot Peppers – outstanding!

Better Being, 537 9th Ave [NEW AMERICAN]
– As a lunch option, they tend to be a little pricey, and the wait can be excruciatingly long, but they have managed to perfect a great sandwich! I’ve only tried the “Slumdog Millionaire” (Curried Chicken on pressed Flatbread) thus far but came away most impressed. Everything on their menu sounds intriguing and worth a try! They also serve Coffee from Stumptown, although its not the cheapest cup in the neighbourhood!

Boi Noodles, 240W 40th St [VIETNAMESE]
– A recent entry to HK, this reasonably priced eatery serves healthy (and tasty!) lunch boxes and traditional Vietnamese sandwiches.

Bonchon, 207W 38th St [KOREAN]
– The Korean Fried Chicken craze in NYC pretty much owes its existence to Bonchon. Its fame has spread, branches have opened, and others have followed suit, but despite all that they still manage to churn out exceptionally good fried Chicken. The spice is right, the accompaniments are solid and they even have Killian’s on tap for lunch Happy Hour! Multiple locations in the city.

Brooklyn Fare, 431W 37th St [GROCER / LUNCH EATS]
– The Boerum Hill brand moves to Manhattan, with a somewhat obscure location in Hells Kitchen. Well stocked marketplace, with mostly overpriced items, but more importantly, they have a good, healthy selection of hot and cold options for lunch.

Cafe Grumpy, 200 W 39th St [CAFE]
– The 3rd Manhattan outpost for this Greenpoint-based Coffee Roaster, Cafe Grumpy provides the neighbourhood with another good Caffeine destination, offering up an excellent selection of Central American and African brews.

Cafe Mofongo, 316W 39th St [DOMINICAN]
– This tiny family-run spot is easy to fall in love with, not just for their honest pricing and large servings, but also for excellent home-style Dominican food! Everything on offer is good, but I can never seem to resist the good ole Chicken Stew, with Rice and Beans!

Carbone, 331W 38th St [ITALIAN]
– A hidden gem in Hell’s Kitchen with warm service (if not a tad slow!), brick oven thin crust Pizzas, great Ravioli, a good selection of wines and a patio at the back!

Capizzi, 547 9th ave [PIZZERIA]
– A new addition to the Pizza scene in HK, Capizzi is quite the gem! Vintage appliances, an assortment of wine bottles and other memorabilia make up this homely place, and a wood fired oven greets you as soon as you enter! The owner has a decidedly Italian accent and demeanour and will make you feel quite at home in no time! Although their dough is good and cooked to crisp perfection, I have had better elsewhere. Their toppings however, are some of the best I’ve ever had in the city! Add to that their Tiramisu – outstanding! They don’t take cards, they are a little steep but at least their prices include taxes!

Cup Cake Cafe, 545 9th Ave [CAFE / BAKERY]
– A delightful cafe cum bakery in an unlikely setting – literally under the overpasses of Port Authority Bus Terminal!! Once inside, expect good Coffee, awesome Cupcakes and cool interiors!

Danji, 346W 52nd St [KOREAN]
– If there was one food void left in Hell’s Kitchen, it was probably Korean, and Danji fills it perfectly! A tiny albeit well-designed space with 3 different seating areas – by the cozy bar, at communal tables or at the back in regular table seating. The decor is chic, with wonderful touches all around, from the ceiling design to the lighting to the metal and wood spoons hung as decorations. Menus lie in little drawers under the tables and are split into traditional and modern. Of the four different things we tried, the Korean-style Hot Wings were outstanding (necessitating a repeat order!), and the Bulgogi Beef Sliders were excellent. The spicy Yellowtail Sashimi was good too. A word of warning though – don’t come hungry here cause the plates are small, meant to be shared, and its all pretty pricey!

Deacon Brodie’s, 370W 46th St [IRISH PUB]
– Located on the ultra touristy ‘Restaurant row’ this ‘local’ watering hole is easy to miss but worth keeping an eye out for!

El Sabroso, 265W 37th St [ECUADORIAN]
– It doesn’t get more ‘hole-in-the-wall’ than this! Tucked away at the end of a freight entrance on a side street, with an A grade to its credit, this little eatery dishes out some very satisfying, home-style lunch – all served with warmth. Their Roast Chicken and Pernil is great, served with rice, salad and hot sauce, all for 5 bucks!

Empanada Mama, 763 9th Ave [LATIN AMERICAN]
– The space is cramped, it can get extremely noisy, and I’ve had better Empanadas elsewhere! That said, they get my vote for having one of the widest selections of this kind of patty (stuffing’s range from Keilbasa to Caribbean Pork!), quick service, good prices, awesome dipping sauces and the fact that they’re open 24×7!!

Empire Coffee, 568 9th Ave [CAFE]
– Serves a good selection of Gourmet Coffees and Teas, which one can also buy in bulk. Cookies are good too!

Esposito’s, 354W 38th St [BUTCHER]
– Not technically a restaurant but worthy of mention nevertheless! This Hell’s Kitchen bastion from the 30’s has an amazing selection of Italian meats and also sells good bread and Mozzarella on the side!

Five Napkin Burger, 630 9th Ave [AMERICAN]
– Currently my favourite burger in the city! Have tried every other on the menu, but the house burger (= restaurant name) comes out tops. French Fries are very good to and the bar is well stocked with craft beers!

Gazala Place, 709 9th Ave [MEDITERRANEAN]
– This cosy little eatery has a branch on the Upper West Side too but it is far from being a chain! The owners are from Israel and belong to the Druze community, serving their own style of Mediterranean. The Pita is made fresh and is closer to Indian Roomali Roti in its consistency than anything else! They have some of the best Hummus and Baklava I’ve ever tasted! Their Lamb and Beef dishes are subtly flavoured and have the right balance of everything! Prices are reasonable, service is efficient – our hostess was especially attractive;-) – and it’s BYOB as well! Their Lamb sandwich (served only till 5 pm) is somewhat legendary – I will be back there to try it someday!

Genuine Roadside, 600 11th Ave [AMERICAN]
– Genuine Roadside, one of many purveyors within Gotham West Market – a much needed retail and dining destination on the far West Side – offers a good mishmash of American fare, ranging from Burgers to Tacos, all of them well prepared. The Crispy Ceviche Tacos are the standouts for sure, and the Seoul Train Sandwich stacks up well too.

Gotham West Market, 600 11th Ave [MULTI CUISINE / MARKETPLACE]
– A brilliant concept, and a much needed respite for the food-starved far west side of midtown! Good selection of food vendors, set in a inviting, casual environment. A bike shop on premises; Blue Bottle Coffee; ping pong tables, and a grocer within are all added benefits, especially to residents of this far-flung corner of Hells Kitchen.

Gyu-Kaku, 321W 44th St [JAPANESE]
– Now I’m not one to patronize chains, and that to one that advertises itself as a “Times Square” location, but all said and done, Gyu-Kaku is a great concept, wherein you grill the meat on your own, and exactly to your liking! The setting is just right, the quality of the cuts is good, and let’s be honest, a “Lunch Happy Hour” like this one is hard to come by!

Halo Berlin, 626 10th Ave [GERMAN / BEER GARDEN]
– Great Wurst, a good selection of German Beers and a tiny Beer Garten in the back. Lunch specials too!

HK, 523 9th Ave [EUROPEAN / BAR]
– One of the better looking restaurants in Hell’s Kitchen with a nice corner location to boot! Never really ordered anything of the menu as I’ve only been there for Happy Hour, which in itself is worth it, if you happen to be in the area.

Kashkaval, 852 9th Ave [TAPAS / WINE BAR / DELI]
– Don’t be deceived by the Deli when you enter! The cosy dining area is at the back, past the bar. A well priced place (especially for groups) with a good variety of Tapas, Fondue and a Vino! UPDATE: They’ve moved a few doors down – different decor but same great food and vino!

Kati Junction, 200W 40th St [INDIAN]
– An easier, less crowded alternative to Kati Roll Co., for those hankering Indian-style rolls in west midtown.

Lali, 630 10th Ave [DOMINICAN]
– This tiny eatery serves some of the best Roast Chicken in Hell’s Kitchen, with a copious helping of Beans and Rice, and some fresh-cut Avocado on the side. All for 7 bucks! A group of Dominican ladies run the kitchen here, and the clientele is mostly Central American, making it all the more authentic!

Lansdowne Road, 599 10th Ave [IRISH PUB]
– One of many good after work drinking spots in HK, complete with jukebox, super tall glasses of draft and some mean wings to!

Larb Ubol, 480 9th Ave [THAI]
– It’s not like Ninth Avenue needed another Thai restaurant, but Larb Ubol is welcome nevertheless, for being the first to serve up authentic northern Thai cuisine. And as of this writing, only the third such restaurant in Manhattan! Good ingredients, great spice, authentic fare, and humbling prices!

Little Pie Company, 424W 43rd St [BAKERY]
– Home to some of the best pies in the city! Great for Thanksgiving but you really don’t need an excuse 😉 Another location in Tribeca.

Maoz, 558 7th Ave [MIDDLE EASTERN]
– With up to 5 locations in the city, several more across the US and Europe, Maoz is fast becoming the dominant Falafel chain, and for good reason to! There stuff is high quality, always fresh and there’s no limits on how much you can fill in to your pita or salad bowl!

Marseille, 630 9th Ave [FRENCH]
– Beautiful interiors, plenty of sidewalk seating and a great deal on their prix fixe menu. The Steak Frite is pretty good, the Wine list overwhelming, and the Deserts excellent!

Mexicue, 1440 Broadway [MEXICAN]
– A food truck gone brick and mortar, and a second location at that! Great lunch specials, with plenty of options – healthy and not-so-healthy! Large portions too. Excellent use of space at this particular location, which provides sit-down options, a lively bar area, and a fast moving take-away line.

Ming Du Restaurant & Bakery, 273W 38th St [CHINESE]
– You know these guys are authentic cause they sell out of food by about 1:30 pm, every weekday afternoon! Catering to the Chinese workforce of the Garment District, they have a super efficient, production line type, ordering system (it took me a while figuring out how the token works!) that fills up your lunch box with a lot of food, for only 5 bucks!! A special call out to their selection of greens, which are perfectly done, not too salty, and light on the stomach!

North River Lobster Co., Pier 81, W 41st St [FLOATING BAR / SEAFOOD RESTAURANT]
– An absolute master move by Circle Line Tours, North River Lobster Co. has been a huge success amongst locals and tourists alike. And why not? What’s better than to sip on a brew and eat some seafood, all while sailing on a large boat with stunning views of the midtown skyline? This no strings-attached (you don’t pay a dime extra for the frequent sailings) venture is sure to be an equally big success next summer, as word gets out.

Obao, 647 9th Ave [ASIAN FUSION]
– Amidst a plethora of Thai eateries in Hells Kitchen, this new entrant probably has the best lunch special. The menu boasts Thai and Vietnamese items, including a token Singapore Laksa (hearty!), and has a great selection of lunch appetizers too. Add to that $3 Sapporo’s on tap, and that pretty much seals the deal as far as weekday lunch goes! They have an East Midtown location too.

Piccolo, 274W 40th St [ITALIAN]
– This tiny Italian spot just across from the NY Times building is super packed at lunch time – probably the only reason to avoid it! If you do get there at off peak times though, their little kitchen churns out a lot of good lunch items, especially if your in the mood for a Pasta or some Lasagna. They also do a good Cappucino, a great Criossant, and for those hot summer days, Gelato too! 4 locations across Manhattan.

Pio Pio 8, 604 10th Ave [PERUVIAN]
– The well known Peruvian brand has set up shop in Hell’s Kitchen, taking over a cavernous space, spread over two levels and a massive basement! Their food offerings continue to impress at their new location, especially the Rotisserie Chicken, and all its accompaniments. The Ceviche, Lomo Saltado and house Sangria are good too, and their service is excellent, especially given the group size we went with!

Plataforma Churasscaria, 316W 49th St [BRAZILIAN]
– Avoid eating the previous night, skip breakfast in the morning and expect to eat no dinner that night – if you really want to do justice to the meat fiesta i.e.! And tempting as it might be, avoid the salad bar!

Pomodoro, 518 9th Ave [ITALIAN / DELI]
– Good spot for a quick take out lunch of sandwiches, salads and soups. Quality is always good and prices are reasonable.

Poseidon Bakery, 629 9th Ave [GREEK BAKERY]
– Another HK jewel, this Greek Bakery offers everything from Spinach Pies to Baklava but the pièce de résistance here is Finikia. It comes in two sizes and is served by the nicest lady you could hope to find behind the counter! The Bakery also brews Colombian Coffee!

Press Lounge, 653 11th Ave [ROOFTOP BAR / LOUNGE]
– Located in the boutique Ink Hotel on the western edge of Hell’s Kitchen, the Press Lounge is one of the most spacious decks you’ll find in the city, with smashing views to boot! The rooftop overlooks the Hudson on one side and midtown Manhattan on the other. If it gets any cooler, the bar inside is nice to! Good service, a bit overpriced!

Queen of Sheba, 650 10th Ave [ETHIOPIAN]
– Never mind the dimly lit or sparse interiors, the food is what you’re there for! Their lamb, lentils and chickpeas are all awesome, as is their Injera bread!

Red Hen, 587 9th Ave [AMERICAN]
– I still sorely miss the earlier occupant of this address (Peter’s, since ’69) but Red Hen is a fair replacement. Their prices are a little steeper than Peter’s and the servings not nearly as huge, but they offer a little more variety (by way of sides), with almost every item on their menu leaning towards the healthier side. Their Chicken is also grilled to perfection, with nary a dry part to it.

Reunion, 357W 44th St [BAR]
– The entrance is almost hidden, and its basement setting sets it`apart from most midtown bars. Lively surf shack decor within; a great Happy Hour; a fun selection of cocktails, and a Creole-inspired menu to boot.

Rice & Beans, 744 9th Ave [BRAZILIAN]
– If your not in the mood for Churrasco but still crave some Brazilian, head to Rice & Beans, which serves more than just the obvious, all of it great tasting and in large servings!

Room Service, 690 9th Ave [THAI]
– Their lunch is good but go there for the interiors (read crystal chandeliers and ornate ceilings!) and the cocktail bar, which is quite the scene for the post work crowd!

Rudys Bar & Grill, 627 9th Ave [DIVE BAR]
– Not only is Rudy’s a Hell’s Kitchen institution, its also an institution amongst the very genre of dives! And that’s saying a lot. In this day and age, you will be hard-pressed to find brews so affordable, free Hot Dogs with every drink (granted they’re not gourmet) and attitude-spewing bouncers and barmen – each one a character! If the beat up red couches aren’t to your liking, find a spot in the back patio or just linger about the bar, waiting your turn for a shot at the jukebox. Rudy’s is the kind of place that I pray will live on, at least in my lifetime!

Rum House, 228 West 47th St [BAR]
– A cozy, well designed lounge space in the heart of the Theatre Dist., yet off the beaten path! Good selection of Cocktails, a huge selection of Rums, good service and live music to accompany it all. While there, a visit to the toilet is worth the hassle of securing an access card from your server, and making your way through the Art Deco lobby of the Edison Hotel!

Sergimmo Salumeria, 456 9th Ave [ITALIAN]
– With the launch of Sergimmo, Hell’s Kitchen boasts yet another Italian institution, and this one not far from Espositos and Manganeros! Cute family run space, with a huge window display of their cold cuts – Salumeria, remember?! Orders take their time and paying can be a slow process but you realise in no time it’s well worth it! I’ve tried their Pasta, Panini (served on the most amazing bread!) and Meat Balls and everything has been superb so far! Better still, they make their own Mozzarella!!

Schnippers, 620 8th Ave [AMERICAN]
– With a perfect location in the NY Times building and cool, bright interiors, this kitchen churns out classic American fare – burgers, hot dogs and shakes, to name a few. Their sandwiches are good too.

Snack EOS, 522 9th Ave [GREEK]
– A rather strange choice of name for a proper sit down restaurant that serves Greek cuisine! But never mind the name, they do a remarkably good job of their dips, their salads and their meats; all served by an attentive and friendly staff in a pleasant dining environment. A little steep for lunch, but a good bet for dinner, EOS is a welcome addition to the hood.

Tabata, 540 9th Ave [JAPANESE]
– If the trek to Totto or Ivan seems too far, Tabata is a good alternative for those seeking Ramen in this part of town. They are reasonably priced, quick to serve, and do a good job on their broth, noodles and toppings, with their house Ramen, Sutamina and Lava Men being some of the more notable ones. They’ve opened a second location a few blocks down on 8th Ave.

Tavola, 488 9th Ave [ITALIAN]
– They’ve done justice to the space once occupied by Manganaro’s, even retaining the original Grosseria sign. Decor is warm and inviting, and an attractive bar runs alongside the dining area. Service is exceptionally quick here – no sooner had we taken the first sip of our drinks that dinner arrived! Eager to try their brick-over Pizza, I ordered one with Buffalo Mozzarella, Brussel Sprouts and Pancetta – it was very good, and the crust was done just right, thin and chewy! My friend got the special, stuffed Pork Chops, which were extremely flavorful. Overall, I think this is a worthy replacement to the legend that was.

Tehuitzingo, 695 10th Ave [MEXICAN]
– The next block over from Tulcingo Del Valle (below) is Tehuitzingo, an even tinier Deli, which you have to walk past to get to the kitchen and eating area! Place your order at the kitchen window, grab a beer from the Deli (they have a huge selection of Mexican Beers, all for about 3 bucks each!) and admire the kitschy interiors while you wait for your 2.50 a pop soft Tacos. The Tortilla is made of corn and the meat contained within is nicely spiced, topped out with Onions and Cilantro – the simplest Tacos you can hope to find, and yet, extremely delicious! House Salsas and hot Peppers are available on the counters if you desire that extra kick 😉 UPDATE: A second location has opened on Ninth Avenue, close to 42nd St.

The Distinguished Wakamba Cocktail Lounge, 543 8th Ave [BAR]
– There’s probably no shortage of dive bars in Hells Kitchen, but Bourdain obviously knew a thing or two before voting it his favorite in the city! Somewhat moldy interiors, dated decor, ominous lighting, a jukebox blaring salsa beats, and plenty of regulars, who more often than not are drawn in by the rotating line-up of hot Latina barmaids! Add to all of that, a little bit of the old New York street cred – people are known to have been shot here on occasion!

The Pony Bar, 637 10th Ave [BAR]
– Cool local bar with one of the best selections of American craft beer in the city. Their pub grub is good too!

Tir Na Nog, 5 Penn Plaza, 8th Ave & 33rd St [IRISH PUB]
– Probably the nicest spot you can hope to find in the tourist overrun Penn Station – Madison Square Garden area! Good selection of Beer on tap, good pub grub (they have seating as well!) and their live Irish bands are exceptionally talented!

Tir Na Nog, 315W 39th St [IRISH PUB]
– The sister establishment to the Madison Square Garden pub, they really took their time getting this space ready. And their efforts have definitely paid off! A cavernous space with a beautiful bar, old woodwork, and plenty of nice handcrafted touches all around. A decent Beer line up, if not somewhat overpriced, and plenty of nooks to choose from. Finally, a decent pub on what is essentially a shabby stretch of 39th St!

Totto Ramen, 366 West 52nd St [JAPANESE]
– They don’t accept reservations or credit cards, do not offer take out or delivery – so you’re forced to wait it out and then dine in their somewhat cramped interiors! That said, their Ramen is fantastic – easy on the salt and high on the rich smoky flavour. Their torched Tuna Sashimi with Avocado (a side) is a must have too! Best seats in the house are along the counter that overlooks the preparation of your Noodle Broth! Prices are a little steep – especially for lunch – but the servings are good, and the service efficient.

Tulcingo Del Valle, 665 10th Ave [MEXICAN]
– This HK Deli is a bit of a trek to get to but you won’t regret the walk there or the wait to get your food! Probably some of the most authentic Mexican I’ve tried in the city with the most delicate balance of ingredients. Still to work through their very extensive menu but I can at least vouch for their Cemitas and Tortas, which are great, as are their super fresh Tacos! A word of warning though – if your trying their Poblano style sandwich (which I recommend) – the spice kicks in towards the end and the taste of Papalo (Bolivian Coriander) will linger in your mouth for quite some time 😉

Turco, 604 9th Ave [TURKISH]
I still miss ‘Golden Chicken’ a great deal, but this has been a worthy replacement so far! The quality of the meats are good, the veggies are all fresh, their servings are huge, but it’s their home baked Turkish bread thats the real winner here! They have a second location a few blocks up on 9th.

Virgil’s Real BBQ, 152W 44th St [BBQ]
– Surprisingly good BBQ in what is otherwise a completely avoidable part of the city to eat in. Great quality southern-style Brisket, Ribs and Pulled Pork, and excellent sides too. A selection of hot sauces for your pleasure! Huge servings (as one would expect!) that are perfect for sharing amongst a large group. Excellent service too!

Wasabi, 561 7th Ave [JAPANESE]
– À la carte selection of Sushi and Sashimi, allowing you to mix and match; plenty of hot Bento boxes to choose from, and several other accompaniments as well. The options are limitless here – its essentially all the Japanese food you can possibly ask for at lunch, under one roof! It’s quick, and its light on the stomach and your wallet!

Wok To Walk, 570 8th Ave [ASIAN / NOODLE BAR]
– Having moved recently from their Union Square location, the Dutch chain has been very well received in Hells Kitchen. The lines tend to be long, but they move quickly, and once inside the aromas and sights whet the appetite some more. They have a wide variety of Noodles to choose from (the healthy, and the not so healthy), as also a good selection of toppings. Servings are more than sufficient and the quality is always consistent. A great option if your craving a carb heavy meal at lunch hour.

Yotel Terrace, 570 10th Ave [LOUNGE / ROOFTOP BAR]
– Not much of a vantage point, given that they’re on the 4th floor, but a great, and expansive, outdoor space, only minutes away from the hustle of Times Square. Comfy seating – and plenty of it – conducive to groups and get-togethers. Bar snacks (Asian Fusion) are good too.

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