If you’re looking for fried wombat, oysters in tuxedos, and antique sporks, then look…somewhere else.
The New York Mariott Marquis is located just northwest of Times Square, which happens to be just blocks from my hood, Hell’s Kitchen.
If you hate Times Square, I don’t blame you. But I promise if you trek just a few short blocks to 9th Avenue, you will escape this tourist-filled corner of hell and for a much more cultured slice of NYC, full of hole-in-the-wall restaurants and bumping bars.
To be clear, I would by no means calls myself a food connoisseur, but I really, really like food. And alcohol. Better yet, food and alcohol together.
So while these particular reviews will likely be closer to Yelp quality than New York Times caliber, I hope you will at least be inspired to try some new local spots while you’re in town.
709 9th Ave (between 48th & 49th)
This particular hole-in-the-wall is my perfect trifecta of dinner spots: Mediterranean, super fresh food, and BYOB.
Gazala’s talented staff prepares fresh paper-thin pita bread and tasty hummus every single day. Their meats are flavor-full, their spreads are hearty, and their spinach and goat cheese pies are to die for.
With no corkage fee, make sure to show up with all your favorite vino’s in tow (there is a great wine shop located just a block down from this place), but as it is pretty small, you may want to call ahead.
746 9th Ave (between 50th & 51st)
Another great BYOB spot, the entrees at this cozy venue are traditional in style but always delicious.
I have sampled almost every entrée on their dinner menu – you’ll see this is a reoccurring theme for the remainder of this blog post – but my personal favorites are the Tuscan Chicken (super flavorfull – and who doesn’t love ricotta cheese?), the Thai Marinatated Grilled Rack of Lamb (tender and finger-lickin’ juicy), and the Filet Mignon (cooked to an oh-so-perfect pink).
All the sides are kicking as well, and while the menu might not be particularly long or exotic, every dish feels like a hearty home-cooked meal prepared by your mom, if your mom is Bobby Flay.
630 9th Ave (between 44th & 45th)
Nizza is not your average Italian joint. It’s not all heavy pastas and creamy sauces, although those are certainly options.
They have delightfully thin and fresh pizzas in interesting and well-paired topping combinations, hearty and healthy salad choices, and enough tasty appetizer options that if you want to get really crazy, you could opt to go all apps for dinner – extreme! My favorites are the Gnocchi Al Forno and the Prosciutto Crostini, but again, it’s hard to go wrong here.
I eat a lot of Italian, mainly because my dreams are made of cheese and carbohydrates, but I love that I can go to dinner here, clean my plate, and not feel like a lethargic bowling ball afterwards. (They also have lots of gluten-free options!)
690 9th Ave (between 47th & 48th)
The Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood has no shortage of Thai restaurants. I’ve tried most of them, and I have yet to really hate any of them. I think “decent” or “satisfactory” are the adjectives that most come to mind.
But who wants a middle-of-the-road Thai meal when you can have the delicious concoctions and classy, calming ambiance of Room Service?!? Various eating companions and I have particularly enjoyed their Curry dishes, and believe me when I say they know how to do spicy right.
Before discovering this hidden gem, Thai food had begun to become a bit monotonous. Room Service has helped make Thai dining new and exciting for me again, and for that I am eternally grateful.
626 10th Ave (between 44th and 45th)
Have you ever had a craving for deliciously yummy food but when it came to choosing a particular genre or country of origin, that inherent indecisive gene we all have inside of us rears its perpetually annoying head? Welcome to my life.
But have no fear – I have found a solution. Go to 44 ½! This place has a menu full of stuff that ALWAYS sound good, no matter what your mood, and everything they make is de-lish.
The vibe is chic and fun, and always bumping, and their classy-and-sassy cocktail menu, featuring such masterpieces as the Wall Street Raz-cession and the Chelsea Hot & Dirty, are guaranteed to make you smile.
668 10th Ave (between 46th & 47th)
Last but certainly not least, I present to you my favorite Mexican restaurant in the area, Anejo Tequileria. This was a really tough pick for me, as there are several fantastic Mexican places in the Hell’s Kitchen area, and they all serve tequila and chips – I guess my bar for Mexican starts pretty low.
Anejo’s super unique and interesting food and drink menus, as well as their gold-medal winning margaritas, are what put them at the top of my list. Their guacamole selection is top-of-the-line and ALL of their tacos (yes, I have had them all, and I resent your tone) are like tiny flavor piñatas for your tongue.
And if you’re feeling boozy, I would encourage you to do on your own personal cocktail-tasting tour of their drink menu (yeah, I have had all of these too, thank you for your judgment in advance), but beware because they pack a punch that is cleverly disguised with what must be magic muddlers. The El Diablo Ahumado legit tastes like a volcano – I DON’T KNOW HOW THEY DO IT PEOPLE.
So there it is folks – I tried to hit a little bit of everything for you, and everything is a really close walk, although you might want to take a few extra laps around the block if you opt to hit all of them.
If you have any questions or are looking for more specific recommendations, feel free to hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org or ask in the comment section below. See ya at SES!!