New York's Great Food Neighborhoods: Hell's Kitchen

A Diversity of Ingredients, Top Quality Merchants, and Great Values

New York's Great Food Neighborhoods: Hell's Kitchen

A Diversity of Ingredients, Top Quality Merchants, and Great Values

Despite best efforts to rename the neighborhood "Clinton," Hell's Kitchen remains the preferred and hard-earned tag for the area of Manhattan that stretches along Midtown's west side.  The name comes from the period that began after the Civil War and continued into the 1970's when New York City's west side, from 14th to 59th Streets, simmered with corruption and was ruled by street gangs like the Westies.  While the neighborhood has a rich history of violence, bootlegging and organized crime, today Hell's Kitchen is no longer the wild west.  Instead it has become a highly diverse community that is well-served by a collection of top quality food merchants, some of which have survived decades of change.

Hell's Kitchen is now considered the area between West 34th and 57th Streets, and from 8th Avenue to the Hudson River.  It was a relief and a triumph when the Bloomberg Administration got stopped in 2005 from building a football stadium and 24 million square feet of dense development in Hell's Kitchen's Hudson Yards, the last remaining huge development parcel in Manhattan.  Still, recent construction has added to the neighborhood's diversity, bringing high rise condominiums to gritty blocks better known for tenements, smaller apartment houses, brownstones and scatterings of public housing.  Today the area is multi-ethnic (especially Hispanic, Greek, Italian, and Irish-Americans), a home for artists, aspiring actors and Broadway performers, and is economically diverse as New Yorkers embrace Hell's Kitchen's convenience and authenticity.

Food Shopping in Hell

The folks in Hell's Kitchen clearly love to cook because the food markets are superb, eclectic and well-priced.  Most of the shops are located behind Port Authority at West 43nd Street and 9th Avenue, an area that's easy to reach either by bus or subway.

On a short stretch of Ninth Avenue between West 38th and West 48th Streets (with a couple of side street detours), are some of New York's best quality and best value food markets.  If you're shopping for seafood, meats and bakery items, you can't do better anywhere else in the city.  Located among the specialty markets are bodegas and fruit and vegetable stands that sell quality fruits and vegetables at very good prices.  The produce isn't exotic -- it's whatever is coming in through Hunt's Point Market -- but the quality is good and the values are excellent.  And with a detour ten blocks north to West 57th Street and 9th Avenue, there's also a twice-weekly Greenmarket. 

Here are our favorite markets in Hell's Kitchen:

Bakeries

 

Meat and Poultry

 

Seafood

 

Greenmarket

 

Others

 

What to Buy

Hell's Kitchen is distinguished by having one of the city's best butchers, one of its best seafood markets, its only West African market, and some of New York's top bakeries.  Here's what I buy when shopping in the neighborhood:

 

So if you're looking for excellent value, a melting pot of ingredients, and some of the city's best sources for meat and fish, head to Hell's Kitchen.  It's another of the city's great food neighborhoods and another reason to love New York.

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