With so many restaurants to choose from along 9th avenue in Hell’s Kitchen, it can be overwhelming to choose just one. I’ve been back several times recently to sample a few of the neighborhood’s offerings, and I came up with three spots worth checking out.
Southern Hospitality – $$ – 645 9th Avenue
This is a classic pig-out joint, so wear stretchy pants if you are wise. Only after I ate here did I find out the restaurant is partly owned by Justin Timberlake (random?). I suggest you show up starving, and order multiple dishes to share so you can try a few things. Highlights: Home-style mac n’ cheese, pulled pork quesadilla, and sliders (smothered in homemade BBQ sauce, of course). And don’t forget the sweet tea– my favorite way to waste calories.
The atmosphere is really unique and fun. The restaurant is decorated to look like a big Southern barn, but cozy at the same time. There was a guitar player at the front of the restaurant playing some classics which was a nice touch. Definitely a great place to check out with a group too, as they have a HUGE roundtable that seats 10-12 people. Fun!
Puttanesca – $$- 859 9th Avenue
If you’re craving classic Italian food at reasonable prices, this is the place to go on 9th. All of the pastas are homemade, and portions are gigantic. They are well-prepared for groups and the staff is very friendly.
The restaurant is surprisingly larger than it first appears– so don’t worry if it seems packed; there are a few hidden back rooms.
Fresh, warm Italian bread + homemade ravioli = HEAVEN.
H.K. Hell’s Kitchen – $$$- 523 9th Avenue
This sleek, modern restaurant is one of the trendier spots on 9th avenue. While it’s more well known for brunch (all you can drink for $13.00 with an entree!), I stopped in for dinner before a movie at the Loew’s theater on 34th street. The decor is contemporary and minimalist; the people include young clientele and good-looking staff.
Even if the trendy scene isn’t your thing, the food is worth a visit. I had the goat cheese on toast appetizer and tried both the truffle gnocchi and mushroom ravioli. Portions aren’t huge, which I prefer because it helps me avoid that so-stuffed-I-can’t-move feeling. I will absolutely be back for the gnocchi. It was cooked to perfection in a light creamy sauce, topped with a generous piece of prosciutto, and so filling I couldn’t even eat it all.
On the downside, the tables are very close together which detracts from a romantic atmosphere, and the service wasn’t wonderful. But for the gnocchi, I’ll gladly overlook these imperfections.