I’ve lived in Hell’s Kitchen for about four years, and with the recent NY Times article about the 99-cent pizza shops in my area, I couldn’t help but write a piece about what Hell’s Kitchen has to offer. Prior to Hell’s Kitchen, I had lived in the Financial District. While FiDi had its charms, it was a little too quiet for me personally (and aside from the walk to Chinatown, it didn’t have enough food establishments). Hell’s Kitchen is a little bit different. While you get all the resources of Time Square, you’re not really at the center of the tourist trap.
Close to the Time Square, but still quiet.
Hell’s Kitchen ranges from roughly 34th Street to 57th Street, between 8th Avenue and the Hudson River. It can be considered a part of the larger Midtown West / Midtown area. While it used to be a center of underworld activities (especially the Irish American Mob), it has now been completely gentrified into a neighborhood with great food, activities, and amazing access to transportation.
Most people think the proximity to Time Square would make the area loud and touristy, but that’s not the case. In fact, the two or three avenue shift is enormous. Once you get past 8th avenue, the area transforms. No more loud billboards or crowded streets. As it turns out, the taller buildings in the area block sight of Time Square from the ground level (though if you lived in one of the high-rises, you can still get a decent glimpse). If you live on one of the side-street off of 9th, you can’t even tell that you’re near Time Square.
First the food
It’s not called Hell’s Kitchen for nothing. The NY Times talks about 99 cent fresh pizza, and 2 Bros Pizza, but 42nd Street & 9th Avenue is actually host to a number of extremely budget (but good) places. These include: 2 Bros Pizza (which actually has everything from fried chicken to broccoli), $0.99 Fresh Pizza (the original 99-cent pizza on the block), Villa Cafe (a newcomer with the best sitting area – inside during the winter), and finally, Papaya Dog (with a slew of budget hot dog/sandwich options).
$0.99 Fresh Pizza
2 Bros Pizza
Moving up 9th Ave, you end up with a slew of sit-down restaurants (all with great prices). A quick search on menupages gives a glimpse of what else the neighborhood has to offer. In fact, just on 9th Ave, I can name 10 Thai places, a few great burger places, and a 24-hour diner (in case you get a late-night craving). Of course, you also have the infamous Restaurant Row on 46th Street.
In between the sit-down restaurants and the 99-cent establishments, the area is also filled with a casual dining options – such as Chipotle and Lenny’s (in fact, on the same block). If you like deserts, there is a Tasty Delite (actually, of my friends, I might be the only one who likes this place), Pinkberry, and Red Mango.
Second, what can I do in the area?
So what’s there to do? Well, in most cases, you’re not partying where you’re sleeping. Chances are, you can always travel to where you really want to go (most people I know aren’t going out 7 nights a week – so there’s no reason to have the action right outside your doorstep). However, you’re still close to a number of select bars in the area.
Apart from that, however, Hell’s Kitchen is right up against the Hudson River. If you like biking, there is a bike trail right along the Westside Highway. Also, believe it or not, Port Authority also has a bowling lane inside. If you lived along the upper border of Hell’s Kitchen (in the 50′s), you’d be within a brisk walk form Columbus Circle / Central Park. Also, the two Time Square movie theaters are right down the street on 42nd (along with a Dave and Busters).
Third, easy transportation
What can I say? You’re at the hub of it all. With Port Authority right around the corner, you’re only a hop away from the 123 (Green), ACE (Blue), NRW (Yellow), 7, and of course – the Shuttle to Grand Central. If you take the bus, the M16 takes you straight to Penn Station. The only pesky area to get to is the Upper East Side (since you have to do a subway transfer), but most places in the city are only 20-30 minutes away from Hell’s Kitchen.
Finally, where do I live?
Luxury High-Rises in Hell's Kitchen
Anywhere – whether you want the quaint walk-up or the luxury high-rise. Both Brodsky and Stonehenge Management have buildings luxury high-rises in the area (on 9th). Most of the high-rises in Hell’s Kitchen offer fantastic views of Manhattan. Because there are only a few tall building dotting the area, high-up apartments on the west side will get an amazing view of the river. For a luxury high-rise, large studios might run you from ~$2,000 and up. One bedrooms might be in the upper $2 to $3 thousand ranges (this may differ depending on square-footage and concessions – such as 1 month free).
However, you don’t have to live in a Luxury High Rise. There are always vacancies with landlords who own affordable walk-ups. You can get studios from around $1,400 and one (or very small 2-bedrooms) from $2,200. Check out the selection of no-fee apartments on RentHop to get a better sense of pricing.