Unless you live in Hell’s Kitchen, we’re betting you don’t spend a lot of time eating in this part of town. But those who do will tell you there are lots of excellent restaurants in the area, from hole-in-the-wall Thai to upscale Italian. You just need to know where to look.
A general rule of thumb when it comes to Hell’s Kitchen restaurants: your options vastly improve as you move north from the Javits Center, and as you move away from the Port Authority Bus Terminal. Then again, that’s probably true for life in general. The less time you spend near those places, the better off you’ll be.
Here are our favorite restaurants in the neighborhood.
We discovered The Marshal back in 2013, and it’s been our favorite restaurant in this part of town ever since. It’s a perfect neighborhood establishment, full of friendly people and good vibes. The food is homey, but delicious enough you won’t mind paying a little more for it than you might if mom cooked it. Then again, we’re not sure what your mom charges these days. And yes, that was a poorly crafted yo mama joke.
An excellent albeit pricey Middle Eastern restaurant, Taboon is a reliable spot for Dinner With The Parents or Date Night in Hell’s Kitchen. Even though the menu features things like homemade hummus and lamb kebab in a pita bowl (pictured), they also serve plenty of easy crowd pleasers like whole branzino and hanger steak. Something for everyone.
A nice Italian spot that does the classics right, like homemade pasta, eggplant parm, and lasagna. The pies are good too, considering your other options in the area.
When Gotham West Market opened, we were just as excited as all of the people who live on 11th Avenue, which is somewhere in the neighborhood of 147 people according to the most recent census. That’s probably why you’ll rarely find Gotham West Market crowded, despite the presence of both Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop and The Cannibal. Take advantage of the lack of population density and make your way (way) out west for lunch or dinner sometime soon.
There are a few great Thai restaurants in Hell’s Kitchen, and Wondee Siam is one of them. Wondee Siam II is another one. And then there’s Pure Thai Cookhouse. And Larb Ubol. OK, there are actually a ton of great Thai restaurants in Hell’s Kitchen. Choosing one is probably the hardest part. Hit up Wondee for simple, well-priced dishes like pad see ew.
Poulette is the place you go when you’re looking for an easy lunch or a quick dinner, especially if you’re the kind of person who typically only eats rotisserie chicken while sitting on the couch in your underwear. Isn’t that where everyone eats rotisserie chicken? In front of the TV in their undies? Or is that just us? Nevermind. The point is, you’re gonna like Poulette.
Excellent tacos in a small 10th Avenue market and storefront. Hit up Tehuitzingo for a cheap lunch, or anytime you’re in the mood for a legit lengua taco.
An oyster bar and “lounge” with better than average bar food and a sneaky outdoor garden area. Put White Oak on your list for your next post-work outing.
The fact that we can recommend a donut shop inside of a car wash to you and not have it be satire either says something about how good Underwest Donuts is, or how far down the rabbit hole we’ve gone in terms of gimmicks in this town. Probably both.
Next time you find yourself headed to the Port Authority Bus Terminal, do yourself a favor and hit Tabata Noodle instead. It’s not the best ramen shop in Hell’s Kitchen, but it’s pretty good and definitely better than what’s going to happen to you inside of that godforsaken place.
An excellent little wine bar in the bottom of a high rise condo on 52nd Street. Ardesia is always a good first date option in this area, thanks to interesting wines by the glass and solid bar bites. Even better if you live upstairs.
Another favorite amongst Hell’s Kitchen Thai food enthusiasts, Pure Thai Cookhouse is actually one of the best Thai restaurants in the city, despite having a name that makes it sound like a line of vegan noodles from the Whole Foods freezer section. Speaking of noodles, most of the ones at Pure Thai are handmade, so focus on those dishes, and make sure to start with an order of vegetable dumplings.
The best ramen in the area, as evidenced by the long waits, even at lunch. Dining solo is your surest move for speedy seat acquisition, so go at it alone during your Midtown lunch break one day. Bring a book or a fully charged phone to keep yourself occupied, and bring some cash too. Totto doesn’t take the plastic.
Mercato is a popular and simple Italian restaurant in the lower part of Hell’s Kitchen, also known as the part you really don’t want to be hungry in. Is it the best Italian restaurant in NYC? No, but it’s definitely the best you’re going to do for a civilized meal this close to the world’s most disgusting bus station.
An excellent modern Korean restaurant that serves many variations on bibimbap and incredible little things called bulgogi sliders. We love it for lunch, but proximity to 8th Avenue also makes Danji a great pre-theater move.
The question: where should we take grandma to dinner after the matinee? The answer? Esca. It’s always Esca.
A massive Tex Mex restaurant that serves pretty decent food, but serves an even better purpose as being the spot for your next big group outing in Hell’s Kitchen. El Original is also open for breakfast, the pure utility of which makes up for what it lacks in authentic-tasting enchiladas.
Kung Fu Little Steamed Buns RamenHell's Kitchen / Midtown / Midtown West / Times Square
811 8th Ave.
Great restaurant name or greatest restaurant name? Kung Fu Little Steam Buns Ramen is no joke, but for best results, order the food in the order it appears in the name. The ramen is the least impressive thing on the menu here, but the soup dumplings and the scallion pancakes are excellent. We’ve already petitioned for those to be added to the sign. What’s another four words?
A cute little wine bar that serves something called a “Pig’s Ass Sandwich” and one of the best pieces of chocolate cake you’ll come across in a restaurant. That said, you could skip both of those and just order a huge plate of cheese and have just as successful of a meal. Proceed as you see fit.
Another great Thai restaurant amongst many in the ‘hood, but Larb Ubol gets extra consideration due to its 37th Street location. There is quite literally nothing else around here worth eating. To be fair, Larb Ubol would hold its own in any other part of town.
A vaguely healthy, vaguely Asian, sort of diner, with three other locations around town. We love Mooncake Foods for its reliability, and that’s especially valuable in Hell’s Kitchen.
A great little sandwich spot featuring imported meats, fresh made mozzarella, and quality bread. They even serve beer and wine, if you’re having one of those days/are Italian.
A solid and reasonably priced wood-fired pizza restaurant with an incredible selection of craft beer from around the country? Every neighborhood needs one of these. Annabel is also a solid move for a night out with a co-worker or someone you’re trying to mate with, thanks to a pleasant, wood-paneled room that feels more wine bar than it does pizza joint.