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Pure Thai Shophouse
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

The absolute best restaurants in Hell’s Kitchen

The best restaurants in Hell's Kitchen includes a high-profile Italian eatery and a Thai hole-in-the-wall

By Alyson Penn and Time Out contributors

If you're headed to the city's devilishly named neighborhood, you might be surprised to learn there are actually some heavenly food offerings. Once you push past Times Square, dine at the very best restaurants in Hell's Kitchen that churn out some of our favorite (and essential) food groups: pizzaramen and cookies.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best restaurants in NYC

Best Hell's Kitchen restaurants

1. Don Antonio by Starita

Restaurants Pizza Hell's Kitchen

While tourists bumble into Sbarro looking for a New York slice, pizza aficionados have been busy colonizing this pedigreed collaboration between Kesté’s Roberto Caporuscio and his Naples mentor, Antonio Starita. The stellar wood-fired pies range from standards such as the Margherita to more creative constructions. The main event, however, should be the habit-forming Montanara Starita, which gets a quick dip in the deep fryer before hitting the oven to develop its puffy, golden crust. 

Time Out, Photograph: Andrew Fladebow

2. Esca

Restaurants Italian Hell's Kitchen

Esca is the area’s slickest and most creative choice. Part of the Batali–Bastianich empire, the menu takes a whirl through Southern Italian seaside cooking. Start with the signature raw antipasti, called crudi, then move on to excellent, shareable pastas.


3. Kashkaval

Restaurants Mediterranean Hell's Kitchen

Warm woods and soft lighting evoke a turn-of-the-century general store at this midtown eatery and gourmet emporium. The restaurant, tucked behind the retail shop hits its stride when tangy Mediterranean spreads—vinegary artichoke dip, hot-pink beet skordalia—hit the table. Resist the urge to make a meal of Kashkaval’s impressive roster of charcuterie; entrées are not to be missed.

Pure Thai Shophouse
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

4. Pure Thai Cookhouse

Restaurants Thai Hell's Kitchen

This small Hell’s Kitchen canteen by husband-and-wife team David and Vanida Bank of Land Thai Kitchen is a gem among the dozens of Thai–American restaurants lining Ninth Avenue. Foodies rave about this authentic hole-in-the-wall serving budget-friendly wok dishes and crowd pleasers like the Ratchaburi homemade egg noodles with crab and roasted pork.

Bird and Branch
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Lu H.

5. Bird and Branch

Restaurants Coffee shops Hell's Kitchen

Thanks to Bird and Branch, coffee drinkers can get a bit of downtown-cool right in midtown. The on-trend, pastel café, is lined with succulents and white-brick walls in its window-lit space. Order a latte with housemade almond-macadamia milk, or the Robin with turmeric, ginger and cinnamon along with Asian-style goodies like a sesame brownie and yuzu-ricotta toast.

6. Nizza

Restaurants Italian Hell's Kitchen

Chef Andy D’Amico (Nice Matin) explores the interplay of French and Italian influences along the Mediterranean at Nizza (Italian for Nice). The sleek, mod space is an ideal pre- or posttheater spot, provided you don’t spend too much time navigating the extensive menu. 

Jeffrey Gurwin

7. Taboon

Restaurants Lebanese Hell's Kitchen

One of the city’s hipper Middle Eastern restaurants, this lusty space is a welcome oasis on the western fringes of midtown. Flickering candles, a tiled open kitchen and a working stone oven offer a nice backdrop to the piquant, Pan–Middle Eastern cuisine.

8. Print

Restaurants Contemporary American Hell's Kitchen

Husband-and-wife team head the farm-to-table kitchen at this Ink48 Hotel restaurant that focuses on locally sourced, seasonal ingredients, even employing an in-house forager. Dine on a new American menu in the mid-century modern space with recycled and repurposed decor.

Totto Ramen
Photograph: Alex Strada

9. Totto Ramen

Restaurants Japanese Hell's Kitchen

Like a traditional Japanese ramen-ya, this narrow, below-street-level noodle joint is designed for quick meals. Most seats are along a counter, behind which the chefs crisp pork slices with a propane torch and tend to bubbling stockpots. The specialty here is paitan ramen, a creamy soup that’s a chicken-based variation on Hakata, Japan’s famous tonkotsu (pork) broth. 

Schmackary's Cookies
Photograph: Dowd Photography

10. Schmackary's Cookies

Restaurants Bakeries Hell's Kitchen

Career changer Zachary Schmahl—who transformed himself into a food entrepreneur after losing his marketing job—built a successful online cookie business before opening this Hell's Kitchen bakeshop. Sweet tooths can choose from cookies in funky flavors, like red velvet, peanut-butter cup, and gluten-free sweet corn with cranberries and pecans. Also on the menu: sticky buns, milk shakes and granola-and-yogurt parfaits.

Gotham West Market
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

11. Gotham West Market

Restaurants Food court Hell's Kitchen

Once devoid of gourmet-grocery options, Hell's Kitchen got a one-two punch with the opening of both Brooklyn Fare and this block-long food mall. With a whopping 15,000 square feet, the retail-dining mecca is divided into eight culinary stalls—such as Ample Hills Creamery and Corner Slice—as well as a full-service NYC Velo bike shop.

12. 44 & X Hell’s Kitchen

Restaurants American Hell's Kitchen

This stylish Theater District restaurant’s name looks more like an algebraic equation than an address, which is fitting, because the kitchen has perfected the restaurant’s formula of reinventing American classics. We've spotted buttermilk-fried chicken with a chive waffle, and a blue-claw crab fritter is served with tomato-tarragon fondue. 


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