Hell's Kitchen has never been known as a first-rate dining neighborhood, but it's a lot better these days. As immigrants continue to open restaurants and offices and residential towers provide an endless supply of people looking for a square meal, the neighborhood can promise some solid places to eat.
We're often asked where to go for an affordable lunch in the neighborhood. This guide is our answer, from real-deal Italian deli to authentic Isan Thai.
Amy's Bread: An all-around good American bakery best known for their sweets, but sandwiches are worth an order here as well.
City Sandwich: Imagine if Subway used quality ingredients with thoughtful pairings. Then you'd have City Sandwich, where your lunch might cost a couple bucks more than the fast food chain, but it's worth it. The breakfast sandwiches are also worth a look.
Sergimmo Salumeria: The neighborhood's best deli with fresh homemade mozzarella and a great selection of meats cured in-house.
Shorty's: Billed as New York City's most authentic Philly cheesesteak sandwiches. This restaurant's claim to fame is the bread.
Sullivan Street Bakery: The bread is excellent here, and so are the pricey but filling sandwiches.
Cheap Eats and Food on the Run
Poseidon Bakery: Solid Greek sweet and savory pastries, many made with hand-roled phyllo dough, like the spinach and cheese pie.
Guelaguetza: A husband and wife team in the back of the grocery store that delivers classic handmade tacos, tortas and quesadillas. For something a little different try the sangrita, an earthy goat dish laced with goat blood and blood sausage.
Tehuitzingo: Imagine a Mexican interpretation of a Mardi Gras party inside a half grocery-deli with people sipping beers under green strobe lights and a laundry list of tacos. And those tacos are well worth ordering.
Tulcingo del Valle: A taqueria we like best for its sandwiches, especially chorizo and egg and carnitas.
Shake Shack: It can get crowded here, but this is one of the best burgers in the neighborhood, and certainly the best cheap one.
Schnipper's Quality Kitchen: Another solid burger spot, and less crowded than Shake Shack.
Turco Mediterranean Grill: Good for kebabs and Turkish salads and dips.
Gotham West Market
Head far west towards the Hudson and you'll hit Gotham West Market, 11th Avenue's most concentrated hub of delicious things. The high class food court has coffee, sandwiches, a tapas bar, and a beer counter, along with New York favorites like Court Street Grocers. Here are two noteworthy Gotham West originals.
Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop: Some of New York's best ramen served lightening fast. As tasty as the noodles are, the rice bowls might be even tastier.
Genuine Roadside: A fast food-style counter for things like burgers and fried chicken sandwiches. On the pricey side, but done well.
Gazala Place: New York's Druse restaurant (other than its second location on the Upper West Side), with good dips, grilled meat, and enormous savory pies.
Hallo Berlin: German sausages with simple but satisfying sides like potato salad. And if you're looking for a beer to go with lunch, they have a good list here.
Pio Pio: A Peruvian rotisserie chicken chain that's earned its fans over the years for its moist, crisp-skinned bird and addictive green sauce.
Inti: A cute Peruvian spot (not a chain) with great rotisserie chicken and some standout ceviche.
Larb Ubol: Unlike most Thai restaurants in the city, Larb Ubol skips curries and candy-sweet sweet noodles in favor of spicy Isan Thai cuisine. That means pungent sausages, fried eggs with ground pork, and spicy chopped meat salads, all worth an order.
Pure Thai Cookhouse: But if you're looking for that classic New York Thai restaurant, this one is better than most.
Tabata Noodle: The noodle soup here is made with chicken for a lighter broth that doesn't skimp on body or flavor. The house ramen is thickened with coconut milk and toasty soy bean powder.
Don Antonio: Hands down one of the best Neapolitan pizzas. The sandwiches are just as good, especially those made with the super-fresh housemade mozzarella.
Totto Ramen: A city favorite ramen shop that gets crowded during dinner but is more peaceful at lunch.
Ippudo: Another one of the city's best ramen spots with a larger, more serene dining room that's packed at dinner but more open at lunch.