Hell’s Kitchen is an intriguing name for a central neighbourhood of one of the world's largest cities! And for good reason, Hell's Kitchen in New York used to be one of the unfriendliest neighbourhoods in Manhattan. But for the past few decades, the atmosphere here has changed a lot and this very lively neighbourhood has become one of the most pleasant places in central New York, and attracts a fairly well-to-do population.
In this post, I'm going to tell you a bit about this emblematic and atypical neighbourhood. Let’s talk about all the things one can see and do in Hell's Kitchen during a trip to New York 😁
An authentic, upscale neighbourhood in the heart of Manhattan
Also known as Midtown West or Clinton, Hell's Kitchen is located on the West Side of Midtown Manhattan, between the Hudson River and 8th Avenue, and between 34th and 59th Streets. For a long time, it was a rather bad place to live in, but it is now a rapidly expanding neighbourhood with a bohemian atmosphere.
This neighbourhood was immortalised on stage and screen in the famous musical West Side Story – which won 10 Oscars when it was released in 1961. Many Irish emigrants settled here after arriving in the United States.
If you want to visit New York in 5 days, you can take dedicate half a day to discover Hell’s Kitchen. By doing so you’ll discover a different side of Manhattan – just a stone's throw from the tall buildings of Midtown and Central Park 😊
The best things to see and do in Hell's Kitchen
Part of what makes Hell's Kitchen so famous today is that it is home to a large number of bars and restaurants with a wide variety of atmospheres and specialities. There are a few trendy spots in the area that will appeal to those who want to enjoy the nightlife while in Manhattan, but also shopping streets perfect for a little shopping, as well as some tourist attractions.
Hell's Kitchen's bars and restaurants
Is it the nickname "hell's kitchen" that drove so many restaurants to set up shop here? It's hard to say, but one thing is for sure – the food is a big part of the neighbourhood’s reputation today, and it's definitely not because it's bad! The amount of restaurants here is simply incredible, and the choice is extremely varied. Thai, Italian, Mediterranean, fast food, pizzerias, bistros, gourmet food, Michelin starred restaurants... there is something for everyone! 😋
The most beautiful culinary discoveries will surely be those that can be made unexpectedly, at the corner of a street. Here are some examples of the best restaurants in Hell's Kitchen:
- Pure Thai Cookhouse, which achieves the feat of standing out from all the other Thai restaurants along 9th Avenue.
- Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare, a three Michelin-starred restaurant that is a Hell's Kitchen institution.
- Guantanamera, a great Cuban restaurant that turns into one of the neighbourhood’s liveliest bars at night.
- Don Antonio, the perfect place to enjoy a real Neapolitan pizza in the heart of New York City 🍕
- Kochi, probably the best Korean restaurant in the city, where you can enjoy original, tasty and quite affordable dishes.
- Totto Ramen, a typical Japanese restaurant where the ramen dishes are hearty, delicious and prepared in front of the customers 🍜
Another thing you shouldn’t miss out on is the Gotham West Market, a food court on 11th Avenue. There you'll also find many restaurants of all kinds, some of which are run by top chefs.
On top of restaurants, Hell's Kitchen is home to countless bars and pubs where one can have a good time. You will enjoy a Californian atmosphere at the Reunion Bar, spend a Viking-like evening at Valhalla, or listen to a piano duel at Bar Nine 😃
Generally speaking, the establishments further north of Hell's Kitchen tend to be the most upscale too.
Where to stay in Hell's Kitchen? 🛏️
If you are pondering where to sleep in New York, you will easily find accommodation in Hell's Kitchen. You can, for example, stay at the Even Hotel New York Times Square South, which is not far from Times Square and Madison Square Garden. The room rate is not cheap, around £315 for a night – but this is the standard price for a good hotel room in New York City. The rooms have en-suite bathrooms with spa showers and EO toiletries 🙂
Shopping at Hell's Kitchen
If you want to shop in Hell's Kitchen, you should head to 8th and 9th Avenues. 8th Avenue has a lot of clothing shops and some department stores. On 9th Avenue on the other hand, you will find smaller shops and designer boutiques.
You can also go to Hell's Kitchen Flea Market, a popular flea market on 39th Street and 9th Avenue, where you will find crafts, clothes, books, and more. Prices tend to be quite high and you should not hesitate to bargain. It’s almost a tradition!
The Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum
This is the big cultural attraction in Hell's Kitchen. The Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum is dedicated to the history of the Navy and aerospace. It's a largely open-air museum, where you can see many military machines such as F-16 and Lockheed A-12 fighter jets, the USS Growler submarine and attack and transport helicopters.
The Mercury 7 space capsule and the Enterprise shuttle are also on display, and you will even be able to visit a British Airways Concorde – one of the fastest commercial aircraft.
To save time and avoid queuing at the entrance, you can get a no-queue ticket to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum by purchasing yours online. I also recommend checking out the different passes to visit New York – they often include a visit to the museum among other things.
How to get to Hell's Kitchen?
Hell's Kitchen is located just southwest of Central Park, west of the Theatre District neighbourhood and north of Chelsea. It is one of the most centrally located neighbourhoods in New York City, with excellent transportation links and easily accessed. To get there, you can take the A, C or E trains of the New York Metro, getting off at 50th St. station.