This might not be the first thing that pops to mind, when it comes to spending a fun day in the City, but really, Hell’s Kitchen has a LOT to offer. I can imagine you’re not totally convinced by this lousy statement, but a little reading stamina comes a long way and you and you prejudices WILL be proven wrong at the end of this mind-blowing TNYB Hell’s Kitchen City Guide.
You will get robbed once you leave 9th avenue behind
As you may know, between 34th and 59th Street, from 8th Avenue all the way down West the Hudson River, lies this dark hole in which you can not walk safely without a Rottweiler to protect you from the Irish mobsters. Like a 1000 years ago. By the time of now, Hell’s Kitchen is more of a sparkly melting pot in which tourists are scarce and queers aplenty (yay! *faghag-alert*). To top it all off there’s foods everywhere and culture is well represented in the many alternative plays and off-Broadway shows the hood holds.
You may think that everything is a burning kitchen in Hell’s Kitchen (which is partly true, I gotta give it to ya), but believe it or not, there’s more to it than you think. It has real sights on which you would not want to miss out.
Especially the Hudson River is one of the key attractions (you have to fancy your sports though) with the Hudson River Park. The park holds a great track for runners and joggers alongside the water. If you’re a daredevil and like to risk getting wet, then visit Pier 96 for a free round of kayaking. While you’re at your sightseeing streak, you might wanna consider giving the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum a visit to watch all kind of boats (It’s a ship! It’s a ship, daddy!).
For more planes, trains and automobiles, the famous Penn Station is your next stop. You won’t get the promised planes and automobiles, but watching trains is fun as well. And while Penn Station might not have the allure of the better known Grand Central, it’s still a landmark worth seeing. Not to mention, Grand Central is as far away as Tokyo at this point.
Time to go nuts with the architecture. Columbus Circle is definitely a must-see. This round square (no pun) is a landmark for sure and the big bonus is the Wholefoods Market that comes with it. ICYMI: we LOVE us some Wholefoods. If you’re in the mood, you can walk down Broadway ’till you’re on 42nd Street. Then head West to visit Theatre Row between 9th and 11th Avenue, so you can end the day with an off-Broadway or off-off-Broadway show.
What’s being in New York without a little bit of shopping, right? Granted, Hell’s Kitchen might be famous for other things than good boutiques, but there IS actually a few shops you don’t want to miss out on. For your average (ok, GOOD) thrift session, give Housingworks Thrift Shop a go. I love their book section! Tagg is your place when you’re male and looking for a great deal of queer partywear and Nepenthes is your way to go when you wanna give your outfit a little Japanese twist. Last but not least, DO NOT skip Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market during your shopping spree. This market is truly perfect for shopping antiques, collectibles, vintage clothing, home decorations, furniture, jewelry and more.
Hell’s kitchen is for food
Yes, folks. There is a reason top chef Gordon Ramsey had a reality TV show named after a seemingly random hood in NYC. Where Hell’s Kitchen lacks in the shopping department, it defo makes up for it foodwise. The internet isn’t big enough to list all its amazing places, but let’s give it a go. For a good start of the day, pick up some nice caffeine at Empire Coffee & Tea Company. Add some sweets at Little Pie or Sullivan Street Bakery, your go-to when it comes to sweets (sweets are always a good day-starter). For a decent lunch, look no further and just hit up Blossom du Jour (vegan), The Café Grind, City Sandwich, The Burrito Box or Daisy May’s. Chances are you’re gonna get overwhelmed by all the heavenly food aromas entering your nose while strolling the streets of the Kitch. If you find yourself in a state of panic, do not hesitate and head towards golden oldie Amy’s Bread. You can never go wrong here.
Dinner opportunities in the Italian department are well represented by Becco, Capizzi, Sergimmo Salumeria, Don Antonio and Esca. Galaza’s Place has lovely Israeli food and Pio Pio is great if you want to give in to the summer hit of 2016: Ceviche. For some All-American deliciousness, you should make a stop Peter’s Since 1969, Island Burgers and Shakes or Rudy’s Bar & Grill Dive Bar. Rudy’s Bar & Grill is a classic: the finest beers and dogs under one roof. If you miss or desire European vibes, then Nizza (Italian for Nice) is your place to be. Italian and French kitchen combined, if that wasn’t clear yet. For dessert, make sure you hit Holey Cream for a Doughnut Ice Cream Sandwich. Longing for dessert in another hood? Check out these top notch creameries!
Drink & Dance in Hell’s Kitchen
Now comes the good stuff. Like I haven’t proven Hell’s Kitchen has to offer enough already, I’m now gonna provide you with the best bars and clubs in the hood to get wasted as fuck and / or dance your ass off.
If you don’t want to go cold turkey with your severe case of food addiction, then Casellula and Kashkaval are perfect. Casellula provides you with the best wines and finger food type of things with a focus on cheese. At Kashhaval you can also indulge yourself in great wines and cheeses, which is always a good thing.
The better pre-gaming is done at The Pony Bar with delicious craft beers or at Bar Nine, where you get drunk whilst singing along with the tunes of the Dueling Pianos. For a super hip surf feel, Réunion is perfect. All things exotic and coconuts here. Want to stick to the roots and really feel that Irish heritage of Hell’s Kitchen? Then McGee’s is your pick. This pitstop on your barcrawl was the inspiration to McLaren’s pub in How I Met Your Mother. If you’d like a more sophisticated touch to your drinking game, visit Sky Room, the highest rooftop bar in New York! To save a little bit for later, make sure you attend during happy hour, which is on weekdays from 5PM to 7PM.
When all that’s said and done, it’s time to hit the REAL clubs. Terminal 5 is IT, when you’re trying to catch some good concerts. At piano bar Don’t Tell Mama you can expect cabaret and singing waiters, oh goodie! Valhalla is another spot to fulfill your desperate beer needs. TIP: making it ’till angry hour is a big win, since your craft beers are only gonna cost you as much as 5 dollars. For all the dancing your ass off we talked about earlier, there’s only one spot to really let loose: XL Nightclub. Not for the faint of heart, though.