Best burger: 5 Napkin Burger
630 9th Ave
You can’t really go wrong with any of the burgers on offer at this local chain’s flagship location -- like the cheddar bacon or the avocado ranch, for instance. That said, the star of the show has to be the Original 5 Napkin: caramelized onions, gruyere, and rosemary aioli atop a 10oz patty.
Best weekend brunch: Friedman’s Restaurant
450 10th Avenue
Yes, a ton of the menu items here are gluten-free, but don't let that dissuade you in your quest for brunch domination: you can still get classic pancakes/chicken & waffles in all their glutenous glory. Even better, gluten-free meals are served on square plates, so everyone can dine in peace (for once)
Best shrine to the bacon gods: BarBacon
836 9th Ave
If you're even a casual bacon fan, and you haven't made the trip to this pork belly mecca, you need to seriously re-evaluate your priorities in life. Bacon flights, bacon chili cheese nachos, bacon steak -- hell, there's even a bacon caesar salad if you're watching your weight for some reason. You need to go to here, stat.
Best sushi: Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill
Putting the words "blue ribbon" in the name of your restaurant is usually a big red flag (jokes about colors!), but everything here -- from the sashimi to the California rolls -- lives up to the hype. Order the oxtail fried rice, if you feel like ruining your view of regular fried rice forever.
Best Mexican spot with tequila flights: AÑEJO
668 10th Ave
The small plates and tacos never disappoint here, but if you're sampling the vast array of agave spirits (you should), you'll probably wanna indulge in something a bit more substantial -- like, say, the whole branzino pibil. Yes, it's meant for two people, and yes, you should still get it.
Best place for spotting famous people: Bar Centrale
324 W 46th St
Tucked away in a nondescript townhouse with no sign outside, this speakeasy's a favorite haunt for hungry celebs and celeb-watchers alike thanks to its excellent food menu -- we're talking Maine lobster rolls, Kobe beef hot dogs, and grilled fontina/bacon sandwiches. Seriously, it's not uncommon to see Alec Baldwin wolfing down deviled eggs here on a Tuesday night.
Best all-around choice: Gotham West Market
600 11th Ave
Whether you're in the mood for chili dogs from The Cannibal, ice cream from Ample Hills, or a cup of Blue Bottle coffee, the top-notch array of vendors at this indoor market on 11th Ave has you covered. Head on over, then decide what you're in the mood for once you're there.
Best no-frills diner: Pom Pom Diner
610 11th Ave
To call this place is a "no-frills diner" is to sell it woefully short: yes, okay, that's exactly what it is, but sometimes all you really want is to order a burger and a milkshake from a menu with 100 different options on it. On those occasions, Pom Pom is your jam.
Best pizza: Annabel
809 9th Ave
We've sung the praises of Annabel several times already, but when the pies are this good it bears repeating: everything from the margherita to the duck prosciutto sports a chewy crust and an imaginative flavor profile. If that wasn't enough to get you salivating, the choice selection of craft beer and cocktails will undoubtedly seal the deal.
Best sandwiches: City Sandwich
649 9th Ave
If you're hankering for a basic turkey and swiss on whole wheat, you've come to the wrong place. If, however, you're searching for Portuguese/Italian-inspired sandwiches with no fewer than five ingredients -- like the smoked salmon "Jerry" or the steamed shrimp "Lucy" -- you'll fit right in here.
Best Italian: Ristorante Il Melograno
501 W 51st St
Walking to 10th Ave for Italian food is a huge ask -- hell, even doing it for money doesn't sound like a good time -- but the traditional fare at this corner eatery is well worth the trek. Come for the gnocchi, and stay for... well, for even more gnocchi, because the homemade pasta is seriously that good.
Best cookies, even when you don't want to dessert: Schmackary's
362 W 45th St
The multifarious cookie flavors on offer at this local favorite change by the month and the season, ranging from Funfetti (get this) and Fluffer Nutter (get this, too) to Caramel Apple Crisp (yes, get it) and Sch'mores (omg please). If anyone tells you, "that's too many flavors," cut them out of your life and buy more cookies.
1. 5 Napkin Burger630 Ninth Ave, New York
2. Friedman's 35450 10th Ave, New York
3. BarBacon836 9th Ave, New York
4. Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill308 W 58th St, New York
5. Añejo668 10th Ave, New York
6. Bar Centrale324 W 46th St, New York
7. Gotham West Market600 11th Ave, New York
8. Pom Pom Diner610 11th Ave, New York
9. Annabel809 9th Ave, New York
10. City Sandwich649 9th Ave, New York
11. Il Melograno501 W 51st St, New York
12. Schmackary's362 W 45th St, New York
Sure, it's hard to get the standard cheeseburger wrong, but it's even harder to make it memorably excellent. For an example of the latter, try 5 Napkin's Original -- a 10oz patty topped with Gruyere, caramelized onions, and rosemary aioli -- or the Avocado Ranch with pepper Jack cheese and guac. You'll remember it later by its combination of all your favorite toppings, and the 5+ napkins you used to clean up the delicious aftermath.
One of several locations in the city, Friedman's Hell's Kitchen outpost delivers a wholesome, largely gluten-free menu curated with their mantra, "eat good food," in mind. Meats are antibiotic-free and almost everything is locally sourced, from Hudson Valley cheese to Brooklyn-roasted coffee. There's also an excellent brunch menu, suitable to the cravings of all parties. You can get pancakes, chicken and waffles and other late-morning options in all their glutenous glory, and the gluten-free counterparts are even served on square plates to avoid confusion.
NYC's seen its fair share of single-item centric bars and restos but none captures the zeitgeist more than BarBacon. An ode to everything pork, you'd be remiss to go to this Hell's Kitchen spot and not try a bacon flight, a riff on the omnipresent beer sampler showcasing a selection of four artisanal cured variations on the fatty treat, or at least the bacon guac. Non-bacon options (aka a beer and wine list) are also spot on.
Located in the Columbus hotel, this wood-paneled sushi spot does everything well, from sashimi to California rolls in addition to more creative dishes. If you're feeling bold, try the oxtail fried rice and prepare to have all other fried rice ruined forever.
Offered in single glasses, flights, and carafes, Anejo's tequila is about five quality notches up from your college-era variant. You can pick from styles including blanco extra anejo, and sotol, a Northern Mexican version made from a plant known as "The Desert Spoon." Tapas like short rib tacos and a much-hailed guacamole trio, plus larger plates, like the signature octopus dish, served with black bread, chorizo cream, and squash confit, more than adequately sate all tequila-induced appetites.
Tucked away in a nondescript townhouse with no sign outside, this speakeasy's a favorite haunt for hungry celebs and celeb-watchers alike thanks to its excellent food menu loaded with Maine lobster rolls, Kobe beef hot dogs, and grilled fontina/bacon sandwiches.
Since Gotham West Market houses nearly a dozen of the city's best vendors -- such as Blue Bottle Coffee, Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop, and Choza Taqueria -- calling it a food court would be doing it a great injustice. This next-level gathering of purveyors in Hell's Kitchen supplies guests with ample cuisine options, and is truly the first of its kind in the city.
This no-frills 24/7 diner serves breakfast, burgers and global fare all day. The menu is stacked with every item imaginable and the cozy booths and tables make it a perfect place to settle in any time of day.
This standout in restaurant-packed Hell's Kitchen delivers pies with flaky, crisp crusts topped with everything from the classic margherita make-up to duck prosciutto and blueberry chutney. The flavor profiles are mostly unique and inventive, served up in a polished-yet-rustic space. Pastas and braised meat dishes are featured on the menu as well, alongside an extensive collection of craft beers and the requisite cocktails you'd expect of any space worth its salt in both quality cuisine and great atmosphere.
City Sandwich specializes in meaty, cheesy, fully loaded sandwiches. The owner grew up in Naples and lived in Lisbon before coming to New York, and each of his creations has a hint of that Mediterranean flavor. For one, they’re made on crusty Portuguese rolls and stuffed with prosciutto, pancetta, and Portuguese sausage. And instead of mayo, the sandwiches are doused with condiments like yogurt sauce, olive oil, and balsamic mustard. The few tables in this tiny counter-serve Hell’s Kitchen shop get crowded at peak lunch hour, but you can always take your sandwich to-go or have it delivered.
Authentic, straightforward, and reasonably priced Italian food is waiting for you deep in Hell’s Kitchen. All the good stuff (olive oil, mozzarella, wine) is imported from Italy, and the bread and pasta are made in-house. The menu is split between pasta dishes like veal ravioli and sausage pappardelle and meaty mains like chicken Milanese and rib-eye steak with cherry tomatoes. Il Melograno isn’t in the Theater District per se, but it’s close enough to go before a show.
Formerly online-only, the self-proclaimed "cookie monster" behind Shmack's set up shop in Hell's Kitchen, where his epic collection of deep dish sweets includes drippings-fueled Maple Bacon w/ toffee bits, and the butterscotch chip, white chocolate, coconut, Oreo, and cornflake Kitchen Sink, leaving you with the "everything butt".