Not For Tourists Guide to New York City - Not For Tourists (2016)
Map 11. Hell’s Kitchen
Named for the squalor its early immigrant tenements epitomized, the scruffy patch of bodega-infused real estate between Broadway and that unlikely landing strip known as the Hudson is home to intimate theaters, niche restaurants and—along with a rising tide of gentrification—an army of toy dogs likely to stage a coup one day. The neighborhood is also characterized by an abundance of things too big and ugly to put anywhere else in Manhattan: car dealerships, cell phone towers, cruise liners, the Port Authority, and stables for those hansom cab horses, the last of which accounts for certain odors and the distinct clip-clop of every rush hour.
It’s also farther west than the subways venture, harshly industrial-looking and often beset by Lincoln Tunnel traffic or gale-force nautical winds. Yes, Hell’s Kitchen may seem like the edge of the civilized world, and the panoramic view of New Jersey does little to dampen this grungy impression. Yet most locals come to cherish the mellow vibe and dearth of McDonald’s locations that come with living just outside Manhattan’s hyperkinetic and tourist-infested core. Here you’ll have no trouble hailing a cab, or getting the bartender’s attention. And as for the out-of-towners—well, they only get as far in as Ninth Avenue before their legs get tired.
Hell’s Kitchen may be close to Central Park, but why fight the crowds? Instead explore Hudson River Park, an elegantly sculpted swath of greenery running along the coast of the island. Its linearity makes for ideal bikers and joggers, but the idle will find plenty of lovely spots to spread a picnic blanket and watch lunatics paddle by in kayaks. Dewitt Clinton Park always has an entertaining game going on its baseball/soccer/everything field; it also boasts two popular dog runs for the bonding of canines and their owners alike. Community gardens have sprung up there and close by, thanks to green-thumbed volunteers from the area.
Two essential elements to absorb: one you find on stage, and the other you find on the end of a fork—usually in that order. The former is available at one of the countless off- and off-off-Broadway theatres lying around—you know, the type that isn’t showing something along the lines of “A Musical Loosely Cobbled Together From A String Of #1 Hit Singles”? Theatre Row is, as the name suggests, a lineup of such venues featuring, ahem, riskier fare—though perhaps not as scandalous as the peepshows that once littered that stretch of 42nd Street. Satirical mainstay The Daily Show also tapes around here, if you’re looking for entertainment that’s as free as it is hilarious. Head up to Restaurant Row on 46th to sample one of the cozy eateries and candlelit nightlife nooks that cater to audiences after the curtain falls. Almost every sub-genre of food is accounted for, and authenticity is rampant—don’t be surprised to find actual French people eating at a French bistro!
Mom-and-pop places have proved resilient—everything from artisanal bread to custom-made paints can be found at tiny stores run by devoted experts. You might even see an old-school coffee shop without so much as a name on a sign out front. But the best spot for browsing may be the Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market, nestled between bus ramps on 39th Street, which offers outdoor bargain-hunting on weekends. The usual gridlock is traded for a bazaar of vintage clothing, jewelry and collectibles, most priced a bit cheaper than they were before these particular vendors moved from a Chelsea location known as The Annex.
✵ Broadway Dance Center ✵ 322 W 45th St [Broadway]
The place for tap lessons.
✵ Daily Show Studio ✵ 733 11th Ave [W 52nd St]
Home of our favorite TV show. Thank you Jon Stewart.
✵ Dewitt Clinton Park ✵ 11th Ave & W 52nd St
Where the neighborhood mutts meet to sniff butts.
✵ Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market ✵
W 39th St & Dyer Ave
Old Chelsea Annex flea market is now located here.
✵ Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum ✵
12th Ave & W 46th St
Holy crap! An aircraft carrier in the middle of the Hudson River!
✵ Port Authority Bus Terminal ✵
625 8th Ave [W 41st St]
Add an “S” and you’ve got a sporting goods chain.
✵ Restaurant Row ✵ 8th Ave & W 46th St
Mingle with tourists during pre-theater dinners.
✵ Theatre Row ✵ W 42nd St b/n 9th & Dyer Aves
Cluster of off-Broadway theatres including Playwrights Horizons.
✵ Bis.Co. Latte ✵ 667 10th Ave [W 47th St]
✵ Empire Coffee & Tea ✵ 568 9th Ave [W 41st St]
Best coffee in these tourist filled parts.
✵ 57th Street Greenmarket ✵
9th Ave & W 57th St
Wed 8 am-6 pm May-Dec; Sat 8 am-6 pm, Apr-Dec
✵ Port Authority Greenmarket ✵
8th Ave & W 42nd St
Thurs 8 am-5 pm, year round.
Land of contrast: Reservations are essential at Bar Centrale, with its speakeasy vibe and classic cocktails—and then there’s an utter dive like Rudy’s Bar & Grill, which serves each beer with a free hot dog. Elsewhere, you’ve got a decadent club-style concert venue and legendary smoker’s roof in Terminal 5.
✵ 9th Avenue Saloon ✵ 656 9th Ave [W 46th St]
Low-key, beer-friendly gay bar close to Midtown.
✵ Bar Centrale ✵ 324 W 46th St [8th Ave]
Make reservations to see Broadway stars relaxing after the show.
✵ Birdland ✵ 315 W 44th St [8th Ave]
✵ Blue Ruin ✵ 538 9th Ave [W 40th St]
Pressed tin ceiling and lots of booze.
✵ Don’t Tell Mama ✵ 343 W 46th St [8th Ave]
Good cabaret space.
✵ Flaming Saddles ✵ 793 9th Ave [W 53rd St]
Country-western, gay, bartenders dance on the bar, lots of cuties.
✵ Gossip Bar & Restaurant ✵
733 9th Ave [W 50th St]
Amazing staff, great selection, comfortable atmosphere
✵ Holland Bar ✵ 532 9th Ave [W 40th St]
One of the last great dives of New York.
✵ The House of Brews ✵ 363 W 46th St [9th Ave]
Fratty but friendly atmosphere, great beer selection.
✵ Hudson Hotel Library ✵
356 W 58th St [9th Ave]
✵ Hudson Terrace ✵ 621 W 46th St [11th Ave]
Rooftop space with nice views.
✵ Industry ✵ 355 W 52nd St [9th Ave]
Large space with great decor, hot bartenders; come with friends.
✵ Laurie Beechman Theatre ✵
407 W 42nd St [9th Ave]
Intimate basement cabaret with fabulous drag shows.
✵ The Pony Bar ✵ 637 10th Ave [W 45th St]
Beer beer everywhere. Get a growler to go.
✵ The Ritz ✵ 369 W 46th St [9th Ave]
Three floors, two patios, no cover.
✵ Rudy’s Bar & Grill ✵ 627 9th Ave [W 44th St]
Classic Hell’s Kitchen. Recommended.
✵ Swing 46 ✵ 349 W 46th St [9th Ave]
Good place for a drink before a show.
✵ The Tank ✵ 151 W 46th St [7th Ave]
Major destination for experimental music.
✵ Terminal 5 ✵ 610 W 56th St [11th Ave]
Ex-club space now used for mid-level indie bands.
✵ Valhalla ✵ 815 9th Ave [W 54th St]
Warm, wooden watering hole with staggering beer selection.
✵ XL Nightclub ✵ 512 W 42nd St [11th Ave]
Gay club featuring Hot Mess drag show Wednesday nights.
✵ 2 Bros Pizza ✵ 542 9th Ave [W 40th St]
212-777-0600 ✵ $
Decent pizza for a buck a slice.
✵ 5 Napkin Burger ✵ 630 9th Ave [W 45th St]
212-757-2277 ✵ $$
✵ 99 Cents Fresh Pizza ✵ 569 9th Ave [W 41st St]
Yeah it’s cheap, but watch out for the crazies.
✵ Afghan Kebab House ✵
764 9th Ave [W 51st St]
212-307-1612 ✵ $$
Great kebabs, friendly.
✵ Ariana Afghan Kebab ✵
787 9th Ave [W 52nd St]
212-262-2323 ✵ $
Afghan. Always go for the lamb.
✵ Arriba Arriba Mexican Restaurant ✵
762 9th Ave [W 51st St]
212-489-0810 ✵ $$
Sangria and large Mexican lunch for $7 bucks.
✵ Asiate ✵ 80 Columbus Cir [Broadway]
212-805-8881 ✵ $$$$$
Highest-end Japanese/French. Bring lots of Yen/Euro.
✵ Bar Masa ✵ 10 Columbus Cir [Broadway]
212-823-9800 ✵ $$$$
Brilliant and expensive. But still a lot cheaper than Masa.
✵ Breeze ✵ 661 9th Ave [W 46th St]
212-262-7777 ✵ $$
Always great Thai/French fusion.
✵ Burrito Box ✵ 885 9th Ave [W 57th St]
212-489-6889 ✵ $
Cheap and tasty Mexican with killer guac.
✵ Casellula ✵ 401 W 52nd St [9th Ave]
212-247-8137 ✵ $$$
Sophisticated wine and cheese pairings.
✵ Chili Thai ✵ 712 9th Ave [W 49th St]
212-265-5054 ✵ $
Tiny, friendly, and delicious.
✵ Chipotle ✵ 620 9th Ave [W 44th St]
212-247-3275 ✵ $
Cheap, fast, Mex-American goodness in mall-like setting.
✵ Churrascaria Plataforma ✵
316 W 49th St [8th Ave]
212-245-0505 ✵ $$$$
Brazilian Feast! Don’t eat all day…then come here.
✵ Daisy May’s BBQ USA ✵
623 11th Ave [W 46th St]
212-977-1500 ✵ $$
Takeout BBQ and sides Mon-Fri. Plus, various Manhattan street carts!
✵ Danji ✵ 346 W 52nd St [9th Ave]
212-586-2880 ✵ $$$
Gourmet Korean small plates with a twist.
✵ Don Giovanni Ristorante ✵
358 W 44th St [9th Ave]
212-581-4939 ✵ $$
One of the better cheap pies in the city.
✵ El Centro ✵ 824 9th Ave [W 54th St]
646-763-6585 ✵ $
Open late for those sudden south-of-the-border cravings.
✵ Empanada Mama ✵ 763 9th Ave [W 51st St]
212-698-9008 ✵ $
No one fries them better.
✵ Esca ✵ 402 W 43rd St [9th Ave]
212-564-7272 ✵ $$$$$
Dave Pasternack knows fish, some of which he catches himself.
✵ etcetera etcetera ✵ 352 W 44th St [9th Ave]
212-399-4141 ✵ $$$$
Beautiful bar, delicious Italian food.
✵ Gazala Place ✵ 709 9th Ave [W 48th St]
212-245-0709 ✵ $$
Brilliant Middle Eastern food. Share an appetizer platter.
✵ Gossip Bar & Restaurant ✵
733 9th Ave [W 50th St]
212-265-2720 ✵ $$
Irish fare, amazing staff, guilty-pleasure menu, awesome bar.
✵ Guantanamera ✵ 939 8th Ave [W 56th St]
212-262-5354 ✵ $$$
Tasty Cuban. Great for lunch.
✵ Hallo Berlin ✵ 626 10th Ave [W 44th St]
212-977-1944 ✵ $$
The best wurst in the city! Check out their street cart at 54th & Fifth.
✵ Hell’s Kitchen ✵ 679 9th Ave [W 47th St]
212-977-1588 ✵ $$$
Haute cuisine, Mexican style. Packed.
✵ Hudson Common ✵ 356 W 58th St [9th Ave]
212-554-6217 ✵ $$$$$
Lovely and pricey and goody.
✵ Hummus Kitchen ✵ 768 9th Ave [W 51st St]
212-333-3009 ✵ $$
Hummus so good they named a kitchen after it.
The breadth and depth of deliciousness is staggering here. Hallo Berlin boasts German soul food, Esca serves top-notch splurge/splash seafood, and Island Burgers features about forty variations of their signature dish. Middle Eastern lovers get their fix at BYOB gem Gazala Place or Hummus Kitchen. Pre-theater pick is French stalwart Tout Va Bien.
✵ Ippudo ✵ 321 W 51st St [8th Ave]
212-974-2500 ✵ $$
Famous ramen with less wait than the downtown location.
✵ Island Burgers & Shakes ✵
766 9th Ave [W 51st St]
212-307-7934 ✵ $$
Aptly named. A classic.
✵ Joe Allen ✵ 326 W 46th St [8th Ave]
212-581-6464 ✵ $$$
De rigueur stargazing, open late.
✵ Landmarc ✵ 10 Columbus Cir [W 58th St]
212-823-6123 ✵ $$$$
Uptown outpost of brilliant downtown steakhouse.
✵ Luckys Famous Burgers ✵
370 W 52nd St [9th Ave]
(212) 247-6717 ✵ $
Minimalist, messily-devoured takeout burgers.
✵ Marseille ✵ 630 9th Ave [W 44th St]
212-333-2323 ✵ $$$$
True to the name, an expatriate’s delight.
✵ Meske ✵ 468 W 47th St [10th Ave]
212-399-1949 ✵ $$
Friendly and consistently good Ethiopian.
✵ Mont Blanc ✵ 315 W 48th St [8th Ave]
212-582-9648 ✵ $$$$
Classic fondue spot. Remember—drink wine, not water!
✵ Morningstar ✵ 401 W 57th St [9th Ave]
212-246-1593 ✵ $
French toast with ice cream at midnight, terrible coffee.
✵ Mother Burger ✵ 329 W 49th St [9th Ave]
212-757-8600 ✵ $$
Decent food, with a bonus: really cheap margaritas—outdoors!
✵ Nizza ✵ 630 9th Ave [W 45th St]
212-956-1800 ✵ $$
Share some fantastic antipasti: socca, tapenade, focaccette, and more.
✵ Orso ✵ 322 W 46th St [8th Ave]
212-489-7212 ✵ $$$$
Popular busy Italian.
✵ Per Se ✵ 10 Columbus Cir [W 58th St]
212-823-9335 ✵ $$$$$
Divine…but you practically have to sell a kidney to afford it.
✵ Pio Pio ✵ 604 10th Ave [W 44th St]
212-459-2929 ✵ $$
Excellent Peruvian in great setting, especially the ceviche and chicken.
✵ Pure Thai Cookhouse ✵ 766 9th Ave [51st St]
212-581-0999 ✵ $$
Tasty, affordable Thai in a classy little dining room.
✵ Shake Shack ✵ 691 8th Ave [W 44th St]
646-435-0135 ✵ $$
Danny Meyer’s pitch-perfect burger joint.
✵ Shorty’s ✵ 576 9th Ave [W 42nd St]
212-967-3055 ✵ $
Philly cheese steak without the snobbery. Extra Cheez Whiz, please.
✵ Taboon ✵ 773 10th Ave [W 52nd St]
212-713-0271 ✵ $$
Great bang for your buck. Middle Eastern/Mediterranean.
✵ Tehuitzingo ✵ 695 10th Ave [10th Ave]
212-397-5956 ✵ $
Tasty tacos in a Mexican grocery store.
✵ Thailand ✵ 856 10th Ave [W 56th St]
212-957-8818 ✵ $$
Tremendously tasty Thai on Tenth!
✵ Totto Ramen ✵ 366 W 52nd St [9th Ave]
212-582-0052 ✵ $$
Incredible ramen, just be prepared to line up.
✵ Tout Va Bien ✵ 311 W 51st St [8th Ave]
212-265-0190 ✵ $$$$
Warm, homey, pre-theater, French. NFT approved.
✵ Turkish Cuisine ✵ 631 9th Ave [W 44th St]
212-397-9650 ✵ $$
Turkish food, in case you were wondering. It’s always good.
✵ Uncle Nick’s ✵ 747 9th Ave [W 50th St]
212-245-7992 ✵ $$$
✵ ViceVersa ✵ 325 W 51st St [8th Ave]
212-399-9291 ✵ $$$$
Creative yet accessible Italian cuisine with a cool, sleek vibe.
✵ Whole Foods ✵ 10 Columbus Cir [8th Ave]
212-823-9600 ✵ $
By far the cheapest eats in Time Warner Center. Euros love it.
✵ Wondee Siam II ✵ 813 9th Ave [W 54th St]
917-286-1726 ✵ $$
Tasty, Thai, and tiny.
✵ 10th Avenue Wines & Liquors ✵
812 10th Ave [W 54th St]
Boozehound specials and tastings.
✵ Amish Market ✵ 731 9th Ave [W 50th St]
Good prepared foods, unfortunately not delivered via horse and buggy.
✵ Amy’s Bread ✵ 672 9th Ave [W 47th St]
Providing the heavenly smells that wake up Hell’s Kitchen.
✵ Bouchon Bakery ✵ 10 Columbus Cir [8th Ave]
Heavenly pastries in a gigantic mall.
✵ Cakes ‘N Shapes ✵ 466 W 51st St [10th Ave]
Custom cakes with photographic designs and creative shapes.
✵ Chelsea Garden Center ✵
580 11th Ave [W 44th St]
Urban gardener’s delight.
✵ Coco and Toto ✵ 730 11th Ave [W 52nd St]
Adorable pet boutique grooms, walks, and babysits beloved furballs.
✵ Delphinium Home ✵ 353 W 47th St [9th Ave]
For the “too lazy to make my own card” set.
✵ Epstein’s Paint Center ✵
562 W 52nd St [W 52nd St]
Honest advice, top quality from century-old shop.
✵ Happy Feet ✵ 754 10th Ave [W 51st St]
Reliable deals on all imaginable pet supplies.
✵ Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market ✵
W 39th St & Dyer Ave
Vintage treasures abound every Sat & Sun.
Amish Market is the top-end supermarket; Ninth Avenue International is amazing for Greek groceries. Sullivan Street Bakery makes bundles of heaven disguised as bread. Delphinium is the store where you can buy a non-Hallmark card, and Chelsea Garden Center, in spite of its geographic indifference, can provide the perfect flowers to go with it.
✵ Janovic ✵ 771 9th Ave [W 52nd St]
Top NYC paint store. Shades/blinds too.
✵ Liberty Bicycles ✵ 846 9th Ave [W 55th St]
This bike shop totally rocks.
✵ Little Pie Company ✵ 424 W 43rd St [9th Ave]
A homemade dessert equals happiness.
✵ Metro Bicycles ✵ 653 10th Ave [46th St]
New York’s bicycle source.
✵ Ninth Avenue International Grocery ✵
543 9th Ave [W 40th St]
Mediterranean/Greek specialty store.
✵ Ninth Avenue Vintner ✵
669 9th Ave [W 46th St]
Good suggestions from the staff.
✵ Pan Aqua Diving ✵ 460 W 43rd St [10th Ave]
SCUBA equipment and courses.
✵ Poseidon Greek Bakery ✵
629 9th Ave [W 44th St]
Old-school Greek delicacies like spanakopita.
✵ Sea Breeze Fish Market ✵
541 9th Ave [W 40th St]
Bargains on fresh seafood.
✵ Sullivan Street Bakery ✵
533 W 47th St [11th Ave]
Artisan breads, foodie approved. NFT approved. God approved.
✵ Tumi ✵ 10 Columbus Cir [8th Ave]
When your luggage gets lost and insurance is paying.
✵ Whole Foods ✵ 10 Columbus Cir [8th Ave]
”Whole Paycheck” everywhere except NYC, where it beats Food Emporium.