Wedged between the Theatre District & Times Square and the Hudson River, Hell’s Kitchen feels a little bit tucked away on the edge of Manhattan. There are a lot of great places to eat and drink in Hell’s Kitchen, but it’s not always as easy to find as in other parts of the island. From all-American gourmet hotdogs to health food markets, to sports bars, diners and rooftop bars, Hell’s Kitchen has a bit of everything if you know where to look.
We stayed in Hell’s Kitchen during our two month stay in New York City, and I really fell for this part of town. I’m glad we stayed here, because it’s not a neighbourhood I would have had much reason to visit as a tourist since it lacks some of the grander sights (see: mobster stronghold until the 1980s).
Gotham Market, on 11th Ave, is a great place to start if you’re feeling indecisive – the gourmet food hall is full of New York born and bred vendors, and many of them make it onto this list.
Coffee in Hell’s Kitchen
Recommended by my uncle, I hunted down Frisson Espresso in search of drinkable (read: Australian) coffee. The tiny café was packed, and I was hit with the smell of freshly ground coffee beans as soon as I stepped inside. A flat white wasn’t an option, but the iced coffee I had did the trick.
326 W 47th St (between 8th & 9th Ave)
Blue Bottle Coffee at Gotham Market
Not to be confused with the Aussie-owned Bluestone Lane, Blue Bottle Coffee serves up a decent flat white that will keep your caffeine withdrawals at bay, without resorting to drip-style filter brews. It’s not quite the real deal (try Bluestone Lane or Toby’s Estate for that), but it’s close and sometimes that’s enough. It’s inside Gotham Market, and is a good spot for a quick breakfast.
All-American in Hell’s Kitchen
New York-style pizza, juicy burgers, loaded hot dogs, artery-clogging bar snacks and American craft beer. It’s all here in Hell’s Kitchen, in the neighbourhood’s kitsch diners and sports bars.
Burgers at Genuine Roadside in Gotham Market
I don’t even want to know how many Genuine Roadside burgers I ate while I was in New York City. Genuine Roadside describes itselfs as a “fast-fine” eatery inspired by California roadside fare – with a gourmet twist. I don’t believe in gourmet burgers, so I kept coming back to the juicy Single Stack Burger, which was a cool $8. I would have tried their Baja style Ahi tuna tacos…but the burgers were too good to pass up, every time.
Hot Dogs at The Cannibal at Gotham Market
For a serious upgrade on a dirty (but delicious) street cart hot dog, check out The Cannibal. The Captain Sharp, with mustard slaw and house IPA mustard was my favourite – the sharp mustard was the perfect counterpoint to the rich, fatty hot dog. The Cannibal prides itself on its wide range of beer, but there are plenty of other options for my fellow non-beer drinkers.
American Retro Sports Bar
Potato gems (AKA tater tots) are my favourite food group, so imagine my delight when I found that you can order them at sports bars all over the city! It was also a bit of a novelty to go for a drink (and copious fried and fatty snacks) at an American sports bar – just like something straight out of a movie 😉 American Retro hits the spot with live sport, fancy-free booths and a more-is-more menu.
11th Ave, between 50th & 51st
The Pony // Hellcat Annie’s
The Pony was a popular craft beer bar a stone’s throw from American Retro. It was one of the city’s original craft beer bars, with an all-American roster of rotating craft beer taps. As a non-beer drinker, I struggled a bit with the closest thing to a cider I could find (a pumpkin beer), but I loved the overall atmosphere – it was a great place to hang out over a drink. As I was writing this post, I was disappointed to see that it is now closed, but have kept it in here because it’s still owned by one of the co-owners, who has renamed it Hellcat Annie’s in honour of his mother, refreshed the food menu, kept the craft beer and added a new cocktail list – which gives me even more reason to return when I go back to New York City this year! Stay tuned for an update.
637 10th Ave (near the corner of 45th St)
Fat Sal’s Pizza
A slice of New York style pizza was the perfect last meal in New York City. Fat Sal’s pizza shop is fancy free but a piping hot slice doesn’t need much fanfare. Pepperoni is a classic, but the white cheese slice is an oily ode to everything that’s great about pizza by the slice.
The Best Bars in Hell’s Kitchen
I am so glad we stumbled upon this place on our last night in New York. Pocket Bar was the perfect antidote to the sprawling bars packed with New Yorkers and indifferent bar staff. As the name suggests, it’s very cosy.
When my boyfriend and I arrived, we opened the door and saw that it was tiny and basically full, so we turned around and walked away. The manager came out after us and invited us in, finding room for us around the corner of the bar and as we walked in, we were greeted by welcoming nods and smiles from other patrons in the bar. It was a surreal experience to have in New York City, and it was such a breath of fresh air.
When I was in New York, I found myself with my guard up after a few uncomfortable moments on my first few days in town – I had felt so vulnerable, that I quickly made myself as unapproachable as possible. On my last day in New York, I was feeling a bit guilty for having barely spoken to any New Yorkers in my two months in the city. As it happened, the girl beside me at Pocket Bar struck up a conversation and gave us great tips for our upcoming weekend in New Orleans. I think half of it was down to the intimate, convivial atmosphere at Pocket Bar where it felt more like a small gathering of friends than a crowded room of strangers.
The Press Lounge Rooftop Bar
The Press Lounge’s rooftop has views over the Hudson River on one side and midtown Manhattan from the other. The service leaves a lot to be desired, but the views from the lounge chairs at sunset make up for the rest.
653 11th Ave
El Colmado at Gotham Market
Another favourite in Gotham Market, El Comado is a tapas bar with a predominantly Spanish wine list and a range of mordiscos (snacks), tapas and medias (small plates). It’s right around the corner from our apartment, so I’ve lost count of how many times I visited while we were in New York. El Colmado was created by Chef Seamus Mullen, who also runs Tertulia in West Village.
A cosy wine bar just off Broadway, perfect for a post-show drink. We were still full from our pre-show dinner (probably Genuine Burger, classy), so unfortunately we didn’t have the room to nibble on their charcuterie and cheese with our wine.
405 W 44th St
Healthy Food in Hell’s Kitchen
SUNAC Natural Market
I am so glad our apartment was above SUNAC Natural Market, the closest thing to a grocery store that I saw in New York City. The fresh fruit bar was a godsend, making it cheap and easy to load up on fresh fruit and veggies. There’s a deli, bakery and plenty of salads to take away, which makes it possible to grab something cheap and healthy on the run.
600 W 42nd St
Like a little slice of Melbourne in Hell’s Kitchen! The farm to table concept carries through from the menu all the way to the reclaimed timber farmer’s table in the centre of this cosy cafe. The food is great, the service is friendly and it’s a little oasis from the madness of Manhattan – if you’re in Hell’s Kitchen, keep Rustic Table up your sleeve.
505 W 42nd St
Dinner & Drinks in Hell’s Kitchen
44 & X
I can’t remember how we came to be eating dessert at three in the afternoon, but 44 & X was a great place to sit outside and watch the world go buy over dessert. The restaurant serves modern American cuisine and has a Tony-inspired cocktail list – only fitting, as it’s a short walk from Broadway.
622 Tenth Ave (Near the corner of 44th & 10th)
North River Lobster Co
North River Lobster Co is a floating lobster shack, that docks on the Hudson River at W 41st St, and intermittently takes off down the Hudson River for a forty minute cruise. Entry is free, it’s just the food and drinks you’ll pay for onboard – this is not your standard cruise fare! The seafood is fresh and delicious, and most of the passengers seemed to be New Yorkers catching up after work for a drink. If you’re thinking of going, check out my full post about North River Lobster Co.
Sweet Treats in Hell’s Kitchen
Ample Hills Creamery at Gotham Market
This is the second outpost of the Brooklyn-born ice cream shop, which has a cult-like fan base. Three years after visiting New York, I still drool over the mere thought of their buttercake ice cream and I will definitely make a trip back to Gotham Market for it when I visit in July!
Sullivan Street Bakery
A fantastic second outpost of the original Sullivan Street Bakery, with Italian-style baked goods.
533 W 47th St
Have you been to any of these places? Where’s your favourite place to eat in New York City?