With a name like Hell’s Kitchen, this Manhattan neighborhood may not sound like the most welcoming of places, but it’s come a long way since its rough-and-tumble past.
The enclave just north of Chelsea (from 34th Street to 59th Street between Eighth Avenue and the Hudson River) saw an influx of Irish and German immigrants in the mid-1800s who took on jobs at the river docks, railroad and various factories. Poverty and cultural tensions led to the formation of some of the most violent gangs in New York, and a history of murder, extortion, robbery and more helped the neighborhood earn its unflattering moniker.
But since a direct effort to clean up the area began in the 1980s, Hell’s Kitchen has re-emerged as a progressive and culturally diverse community, trading its gangsters and seedy speakeasies for high-end condominiums, casual food trucks and quirky shops. Though a few tenements (built in the 1850s to house workers and their families) still stand—offering a glimpse into the past—many of the streets are largely unrecognizable and now house luxury gyms, off-Broadway theaters and the famed Actors Studio.
Here, New York’s expert concierges share their favorite spots to enjoy the best of what Hell’s Kitchenhas to offer—from actual kitchens with gourmet grub to vintage gift shops and everything in between.
Hell’s Kitchen Casual Dining
“Gotham West Market is one of the best options in casual dining found anywhere in the city. Gotham West Market offers a great selection of pop-up style restaurants with a communal dining room for all diners in the center of the market. … I love the chicken broth-based ramen at Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop and always ask for mine ‘fully loaded’ (which comes with half of a roasted tomato and an egg), along with the latest classic cocktail on tap at The Cannibal or one of the many craft bottled microbrews. Dessert comes in the form of pairing a Blue Bottle Coffee cortado [with] one of the delicious rosemary shortbread cookies.” (600 11th Ave.; 212-582-7940; gothamwestmarket.com) —Carmen da Silva, chef concierge at GrandLife Hotels
“Island Burgers and Shakes [specializes] in the churrasco (a large chicken sandwich—try it blackened) with amazing shakes and burgers.” (766 Ninth Ave.; 212-307-7934; islandburgersandshakes.com) —Jared Gullekson, chef concierge at The London NYC
Top Picks for Wine and Cocktails in Hell’s Kitchen
“The go-to restaurant for me is Casellula, which has exceptional wine and cheese … and the space is very cozy and romantic so it makes the perfect date spot.” (401 W. 52nd St.; 212-247-8137; casellula.com) —Tim Markman, lead concierge at The Standard, High Line
“After the success of La Masseria, a southern Italian restaurant in the Theater District, now comes [the owner’s] promising wine bar offshoot in Hell’s Kitchen [called] Masseria Dei Vini.” (887 Ninth Ave.; 212-315-2888; masseriadeivini.com) —James Jolis, chef concierge at The Chatwal
“From the dynamic duo behind Aria Wine Bar in the West Village, the Passon couple brings us Briciola. Briciola is an intimate 14-seat wine bar in our Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood that features an open kitchen, communal countertop seating and serves a fun tapas style menu and extensive wine list.” (370 W. 51st St.; 646-678-5763) —Linda Pham, attache at The Quin
“Perhaps a nightcap at swanky Réunion surf bar will be just right for the casual underground dweller. French- and Asian-inspired, Réunion is a fully equipped surf-themed cocktail bar located in the heart of Hell’s Kitchen. With creative cocktails from the Mermaid frozen [mojito] and Shark’s Blood to the more conventional Old-Fashioned, the bartenders at
Réunion can serve up some wild concoctions for your taste.” (357 W. 44th St.; 212-582-3200; reunionbar.com)
—Linda Pham, attache at The Quin
Cultural Restaurants in Hell’s Kitchen
“Taboon is a must-eat destination. This ‘Middleterranean’ restaurant features an unusual spin on [Middle Eastern] and Mediterranean dishes. Original chef Efi Nahon recently returned to the kitchen. … I always recommend Taboon because the food is consistently fantastic and the wine list is great. I also dream of the flatbread, made in the taboon (domed oven). The ambience is low-key and it’s a great spot to eat at the bar.” (773 10th Ave.; 212-713-0271; taboononline.com) —Jolie Mansky, chef concierge at Urban Concierge
“Pio Pio is located in the heart of Hell’s Kitchen. It’s a Peruvian restaurant that offers the best roasted, juicy chicken in New York. The chicken is marinated for hours in a mixture of spices, garlic, Peruvian beer and ingredients the chef keeps a secret. … The place is beautiful, and during the summer there’s a terrace in front of the restaurant.” (604 10th Ave.; 212-459-2929; piopio.com) —Franck Hermann, concierge at Smyth, a Thompson Hotel
Shop Hell’s Kitchen
“Without a doubt, I cannot go to Hell’s Kitchen without visiting Fine and Dandy. It’s the most charming vintage store where you’ll find everything from tie clips to paperweights, letter sweaters [and] quirky odds and ends.” (445 W. 49th St.; 212-247-4847; fineanddandyshop.com) —Tim Markman, lead concierge at The Standard, High Line
“Delphinium Home offers gifts and accessories, from candles, cookbooks and wall clocks to Jonathan Adler designs. I recommend this shop for its small gifts and unique collection.” (353 W. 47th St.; 212-333-7732; delphiniumhome.com) —Jolie Mansky, chef concierge at Urban Concierge
—Written by Bria Balliet