The W42ST Best of Awards are back! Last night (Wednesday) we celebrated the impact of hundreds of Hell’s Kitchen businesses, community organizations and residents in a gathering at the West Side’s Intrepid Museum, where finalists and local fans came together to commemorate the irrepressible grit and indomitable spirit of the neighborhood. Here are this year’s winners and finalists!
BEST PLACE TO EAT
Consistently one of our awards’ most competitive categories, dining in Hell’s Kitchen is a cornucopia of culinary delights. In a sea of top-notch choices, our readers selected longstanding local favorite West Bank Cafe at 407 W42nd Street and 9th Avenue as their go-to pick for reliably tasty fare and warm ambiance from owner, West Sider and previous Hell’s Kitchen Hero Steve Olsen.
“It’s hard to imagine Hell’s Kitchen without West Bank,” said reader Dian Ruppe. “The menu has something for everyone and it’s reasonably priced and always delicious. The staff is friendly and it’s super cozy.” Readers near and far touted the new American eatery as their choice for pre- or post-theater dining, while Michael D’Angora declared West Bank a “staple of the neighborhood where the owner and staff treat everyone like family.” He added: “When the crane fell on 10th Ave a few weeks ago and we weren’t allowed in our building all day, Steve opened the doors and we hung out there all day. He even had us sample some new hamburger meats they were trying out!” Many readers agreed that Steve’s generosity of spirit keeps them returning time and time again to the cafe — Spider Duncan Christopher declared: “Steve Olsen — the best restaurant owner for decades” as Terry Doemling added: “Steve Olsen. That’s all you need to know.”
Other finalists included last year’s winner, Jaz Indian Cuisine at 813 9th Avenue between W53rd and W54th Street. “Jaz doesn’t just serve delicious food, Jaz creates friendships and community in Hell’s Kitchen,” said reader Michelle D’Aulerio. “That’s a game changer for a neighborhood.” Marseille at 630 9th Avenue and W44th Street made the list again for its continental ambiance and the “delicious food,” said reader Robin Riley. “You can feel like you’re in Paris without the flight, or eye rolling when you order.” Nearby Mémé Mediterranean at 607 10th Avenue (corner of W44th Street) got a nod from reader Nell Snaidas for being “fresh and delicious, accommodating every kind of diet,” their friendly service and a “nice wine list and cocktails too,” Nell added.
Neighborhood standby The Marshal at 628 10th Avenue between W44th and W45th Street made the shortlist for its farm-to-table fare, with fellow HK business owner Luisa Cerutti declaring: “I love the idea of locally-sourced foods and wines. Good for local farmers, fresher foods, and less time on the road means less carbon emissions. And chef Charlie Marshall always has a creative menu!” And as cited in many of our West Side Stories — Tulcingo del Valle at 665 10th Avenue between W46th and W47th Street got a shoutout for “the food and service!”, as reader Carol Lipnik put it. She added that owner “Irma is one of the sweetest people in the neighborhood and her food is amazing!!!!”
BEST PLACE TO WORK OUT
Hell’s Kitchen’s many loyal fitness enthusiasts passionately put in their picks for the best place to work out in the neighborhood — and while it was a race to the finish line, Manhattan Plaza Health Club at 482 W 43rd Street between 9th and 10th Avenue took home the gold medal for the fourth year in a row! Speak to just a few of their many members to know why — as reader Kevin Brofsky put it, they have a “friendly staff who cares, beautiful space [where] one can be at home with one’s thoughts without noise pounding in the ears,” and it’s “spotless!” Adds Claire Bach: “Their TRX Barre class is amazing! Their instructors are friendly and extremely informative.” Brooke Olownia says that MPHC “has everything you could need and is never overcrowded — a pool with a beautiful pool deck, tennis, rock climbing and scuba diving!” Jenn Most told W42ST that “Fitness is for EVERYONE here” at MPHC. “I never feel too big, too small, too old, too young, too flexed, too weak… too much or too little anything,” she added. “Inclusivity at its best.”
Close on MPHC’s heels was newcomer Orangetheory Fitness at 730 9th Avenue between W49th and W50th Street, where reader Nick Vagelatos said, “Head Coach Adriana and Manager Tiara make this place stand out. You get a vigorous, scientifically-backed workout, you push yourself, and you meet fellow HKers!” Just around the corner from Orangetheory we found another finalist in TMPL gym in New World Plaza at 355 W49th Street between 8th and 9th Avenue, which reader Lenny Shields praised as having “a good artistic feel in the gym with state-of-the-art weight training and Les Mills immersive studio.”
W42ST readers including Andrew Rindler cast a vote for the Equinox at Hudson Yards (35 Hudson Yards), noting: “The pool overlooking the city? Need I say more?” Others like Diane Thara gave a nod to the Mercedes Club at 550 W54th Street between 10th and 11th Avenue, highlighting their “amazing facilities and classes, friendly staff, great smoothie bar — what more do you need?”
We begin our ode to the best coffee in Hell’s Kitchen with an obituary: we are sad to report that last year’s winner, the beloved Kahve, has closed. While the W42ST staff — and the neighborhood at large — mourn the loss of one of the area’s best java joints, there were many other excellent coffee shops in contention for this year’s category. 2023’s prize goes to Bird & Branch, a family-run shop on 359 W45th Street between 8th and 9th Avenue that has quickly become a favorite among tourists and locals alike. “How do they make a cup of coffee taste so damned good???” said reader Karin Schall.
Joan Pelzer loves “that this is a local place, not a chain — and family-owned right in the heart of everything in Hell’s Kitchen. PLUS they have really great coffee with some fun options — they get creative,” she added. “Their mission [to restore the city] makes it a real reason to support them.” Jason Rehberg said: “Innovative coffee drinks, amazing baked items and the staff are super sweet and recognize me every time I come in.”
Other coffee shops on the shortlist included Afficionado Coffee Roasters at 750 11th Avenue between W52d and W53rd Street, whose brews Mari Dej described as “perfect.” She added: “They offer macadamia nut milk instead of almond milk, which is so much better in lattes. I’m addicted! The baristas are very nice. A couple really stand out. They always remember how I like my lattes and we always have pleasant conversations. The shop is quaint and cozy, well decorated. Beautiful plants everywhere, makes the air quality better in my opinion. A welcoming place to relax.” Longtime HK go-to Frisson Espresso (multiple locations) got a spot for their well-regarded latte art and friendly service. Said reader Marci Shapiro: “Tulian and Robert have the BEST coffee in a neighborhood filled with coffee shops. Their smoothies and treats are also delicious!”
Grind at 602 9th Avenue and W43rd Street has made its mark as a reliable place to work and snack, where “everyone is so friendly and accommodating,” said reader Heidi Latsky. “They have everything too — pastries, sandwiches, great coffee.” Masseria Caffè at 891 9th Avenue between W57th and W58th Streets made the list for being a veritable staycation, said reader Peter Connelly, who described it “like falling into Italy, at least for a moment.” Jeffrey Viccora and other W42ST readers described The Jolly Goat at 515 W 47th Street between 10th and 11th Avenue as a “tucked away gem” serving up superior brews, while reader Ahmed Attia said he’s addicted to Rex at 864 10th Avenue between W56th and W57th Street’s pumpkin muffins. And Catie Savage told W42ST that “When I know I have a long day ahead, Sullivan Street Bakery at 533 W47th Street between 10th and 11th Avenue’s cold brew keeps me going! Where else can you snag a piece of pizza for breakfast too?”
It’s always happy hour in Hell’s Kitchen — and the neighborhood’s many beer, wine and cocktail enthusiasts sounded off to let us know where they prefer to kick back after a long day! This year’s first pick went to Ardesia Wine Bar at 510 W 52nd Street and 10th Avenue which was cited as “truly a gem of the Hell’s Kitchen area!” Reader Michael Raymond told us: “When I think of my ‘third place’, Ardesia is unequivocally the answer. The team there has created a safe, inclusive space where you can celebrate, gather, or just be. When people visit, Ardesia is always on my list of places to go. Even on a dark day, Ardesia is a place where you’re surrounded by care, compassion and friends. It is such a special place.”
Sue Fitzgerald added: “Mandy and her staff always make me feel so welcome. I’ve been coming here for over 10 years, and how appropriate that it just ages like a fine wine! The menu (chicken liver mousse??), the music (it’s Britney, b*tch), the staff (James, Brady, Dominique just to name a few) — all A+. And the addition of Tuesday flight nights just seals the deal. I can’t wait until the new café opens across the street so it can win best newcomer next year!!”
There was plenty of love to go around for other Hell’s Kitchen watering holes, too — including As Is at 734 10th Avenue (corner of W50th Street) which reader Brian Mastroianni touts for its “amazing beer selections, great food and drink, perfect ambience for a party or meeting a big group of friends.” Last year’s champion, Pocket Bar at 455 West 48th Street near 10th Avenue (soon to add its third location in Hell’s Kitchen at W57th Street!) made another appearance on the shortlist, where reader Jason Rehberg noted the “immaculate vibes, bartenders that are among the best in the city, and carefully selected music in an intimate setting that always ends up with the entire bar singing along.”
Newcomer FLEX at 405 W51st Street between 9th and 10th Avenue got a nod from reader Jon Frost, who cited it as having the “Best bartenders, music, awesome vibe with cool art and small details. It was what HK was missing,” he added. “The atmosphere is always inviting, friendly and fun. You won’t meet a bad person either side of the bar!” Fellow new arrival The Dickens at 783 8th Avenue between W47th and W48th Street — a multi-story LGBTQIA+ bar with touches of historic and literary charm — also made this year’s list, where reader Lauren Lavin praised its “delicious food, great happy hour, fabulous vibe, beautiful decor, huge wide open space, and LGBTQ+ friendly!!!!” vibes. And last but not least, Hell’s Kitchen landmark Rudy’s Bar & Grill at 627 9th Avenue between W44th and W45th Street made many a reader shortlist for its cheap beer, hot dogs and ambiance. As reader Eca Schweitzer put it, “If you have to ask, you are not from here.”
Hell’s Kitchen has a small-but-mighty community of independent retail shops — and an equally mighty cohort of loyal customers who swear by their wares. It’s for perhaps this reason that last year’s winners Domus at 413 W44th Street between 9th And 10th Avenue took the crown once more, after dozens of readers cited the thoughtfully curated items and generous spirit of owners Luisa Cerutti and Nicki Lindheimer. “Far and away the best independent store in HK,” said Gordon Stanley. “It’s amazing how much variety and quality they pack into that space. You can shop for the whole family there.”
Linda Giuliano added: “It is more than a store of thoughtfully curated items purchased from special communities who will benefit, and sold to communities like us who can share in their discoveries of beautiful books, cards, linens, paintings, scarves, gloves, soaps….. I could go on. It is a healing place that inspires and restores everyone who walks in the door.” Known by many as “a tiny store that always manages to have everything you never knew you needed!”, “Nicki & Luisa have the best taste and they make it look like I have good taste when I buy from them,” added Paula Jaslow. “They make going into Domus a visit with friends as opposed to a commercial transaction.”
Other near-winners included newcomers Beaupierre Wine & Spirits at 664 10th Avenue between W46th and W47th Street, an inclusive specialty wine shop reader John Gibson declared “a fantastic wine store run by the friendliest people you’ll meet, and an adorable dog. They are always willing to discuss wine with me and give me a fantastic suggestion.” Fellow nearby wine shop Veritas Studio Wines at 527 W 45th Street between 10th and 11th Avenue is described by Richard Levey as a place where “Wines, wine education, and community congeniality flow freely at this niche retail space. Two or three visits, along with taking the advice of the well-informed staff, will turn any tippler into a well-lubricated wine aficionado. And the wines, which go beyond the standard fare, are damned good and affordable.”
Long-standing local favorite Delphinium Home at 353 W47th Street between 8th and 9th Avenue is described by Drew Desky as “the place with sassy, saucy gifts that you never knew you needed. The merchandise screams fun.” Meanwhile, “you never know what new treasure Matt and Enrique will have when you walk through the door and are transported back to a more elegant time,” said Nico Leeper of bespoke clothing shop Fine and Dandy at 445 W49th Street between 9th and 10th Avenue.
BEST PET CARE
Hell’s Kitchen’s furry friends get the VIP treatment — and this year’s pet care category reflected the intensely loyal tastes of local pet owners. Pure Paws Veterinary Care of Hell’s Kitchen located at 506 W42nd Street between 10th and 11th Avenue was the top dog for the second year in a row, with readers like Vicky Kuperman lauding the vet’s “great staff,” low wait times, and compassionate care from head veterinarian Dr Stephanie Liff. “She’s saved our dog’s life not once but twice,” added Kuperman. “She takes care of him like he’s her own.” Added Juliet Plante: “Dr Liff will always text you back so fast! Online re-ordering of food and medication and super easy text reminders. And Dr Liff is the nicest and most fun!”
Other shortlisted spots for Spot included Clinton Veterinary Center at 419 W55th Street between 9th and 10th Avenue, where reader Patty Zarnoski saluted “Dr Fisch and Millie” as “caring and easy to deal with. I have brought all of my animals there for over 30 years.” Ron at Coco &Toto pet daycare and grooming at 730 11th Avenue between W51st and W52nd Street was described as “the sweetest” by reader Zach Aaronson, who also noted that “their groomers are top notch and are held to a very high standard of service but more importantly CARE for the dogs.”
And readers “can’t say enough good things” about Heart of Chelsea Veterinary Group Hell’s Kitchen at 453 W46th Street between 9th and 10th Avenue. “Dr Torchia is a gem and I feel totally safe with him taking care of my animals,” said reader Tiff Winton. “Overall, they are kind, caring, they have an attention to detail and they really truly do treat your pets like they are their own.” Also nearly taking the crown was Tilly’s Walks and its resident dog walker, Mirjana. “Mirjana is the only person I trust with my dog!” said reader Kendra van Horn. “She is super responsible, my dog loves her, and it’s a pleasure to have her in our lives.”
BEST COMMUNITY ORGANIZATION
There is no shortage of places to volunteer in Hell’s Kitchen — our list of the Best Community Organizations could go on for miles! But amid the many, many deserving community advocacy organizations and initiatives, one group was cited again and again as having had a major impact on the neighborhood. The Litter Legion, based out of Hell’s Kitchen and run by last year’s Hell’s Hero Catie Savage has cleaned up over 10,000 pounds of trash around town since its inception in 2020.
“Catie Savage started with a few folks to pick up trash,” said reader Elke Fears. “She has grown Litter Legion into a volunteer group recognized by our elected officials, block associations, the Department of Sanitation and CB4 for its commitment to keeping Hell’s Kitchen trash free.” Paul Gealone added: “Catie and her team truly care about our neighborhood. Volunteering during the summer happy hour events was incredibly fun and well organized.” Albert Sgambati chimed in: “They are a shining example of what a community org does. They show up, they help introduce neighbors to neighbors, and they clean the place up! … and Catie Savage is unstoppable!”
Other notable community groups that made this year’s shortlist include community children’s arts center The 52nd Street Project at 789 10th Avenue between W52nd and W53rd Street, a place that “engages Hell’s Kitchen’s young people and adult artists at no cost to them and provides free shows to the public!” said Caylyn Creager. The Clinton Community Garden at 434 W48th Street between 9th and 10th Avenue is known as “a special gem for peace, gardening, sunning and communing with nature,” said Sheri Barnes, while the Hell’s Kitchen Community Cupboard located at W45th Street between 9th and 10th Avenue provides free food for neighbors across the West Side. “The volunteers are amazing—” said Caroline Rhoad of the group, “communicative, kind, energetic, open hearted, and determined to make Hell’s Kitchen a wonderful community to live in — I feel so lucky I found out about it.” The Hell’s Kitchen Free Store — which is in the process of relaunching at W45th Street between 10th and 11th Avenues after having to close this spring — is a “great way to share unwanted goods and give them new use and life,” said reader Loyal Chow. “Hope the renewal is a success.”
If there’s one thing that can be said about Hell’s Kitchen, it’s that the face of the neighborhood is always changing. There were many exciting newcomers over the past year and this year’s competition was a tough one! First out of the pack was new Mediterranean eatery Gilda located at 410 W47th Street between 9th and 10th Avenue, where Elizabeth Young says you can find a “good vibe and people, plus a fun happy hour (T-Th, 4-6PM).” For an additional tip, “If you snag a spot in their window before sunset, you can see the reflection off the art deco sunray demi-medallion at the top of 674 Ninth,” she added.
Gilda boasts the “best baklava I’ve ever had,” said reader Sam Bowers, who has eaten there four times already! And Alan Gilme added: “Gilda is hands-down the best restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen. Every single item on the menu will blow you away — especially the baked sheep’s cheese. The pita is unreal, so it’s the hummus and just about everything else. It’s so fresh and flavorful. The drinks are incredible and the staff is so friendly. I eat there once a week and am always blown away!”
Best store finalist Beaupierre Wine & Spirits at 664 10th Avenue between W46th and W47th Street also made the newcomer shortlist, with reader Ian Sadler noting that owners “Heidi, Yannick and staff provide great expertise/service!” 9th Avenue newcomer Chalong located at 749 9th Avenue between W50th and W51st Street has gotten plenty of hat tips for its tasty, Southern-style Thai cuisine — as reader Raphael Reyes put it: “Just when I thought there were enough Thai restaurants in Hell’s Kitchen, along came Chalong. Their menu is truly mouth watering, and their food quality is just as impressive. The restaurant is beautiful and great for people-watching. I truly believe that they have some of the best service in all of New York City.”
FLEX located at 405 W51st Street between 9th and 10th Avenue also made a second appearance, with Brad Mossholder declaring it “the best new spot to open and add some life to the old Posh location. The bartenders are great and it’s a perfect addition to the neighborhood.” The Dickens at 783 8th Avenue between W47th and W48th Street rounded out the repeat finalist category, with reader Dolores Hannon noting that it “ticks all the boxes!” for a good bar: “A new, all inclusive venue that welcomes everyone, that serves incredible cocktails and tasty food to all, with a warm welcome, a friendly smile and total commitment to customer care.” Lovely’s Old Fashioned burger joint — located at 642 9th Avenue between W45th and W46th Street and from the same team that brought you Steak Frites Bistro and Zillions Pizza made the list as having “the best burger in the neighborhood!” according to Nico Leeper, who noted that “it has quickly become a part of my regular rotation!”
BEST PERSONAL CARE
If you need to get glamorous, there are plenty of places to primp in Hell’s Kitchen — and as usual, it was a fierce competition for the top spot on our list of best personal care places in the area. This year’s honor goes to Nam’s Nail Spa located at 642 10th Avenue between W45th and W46th Street and run by longtime local fixture Nam Tsering. “Nam and her daughters have created a super welcoming environment in a beautiful new location with the consistently best mani/pedis in town….especially love the massaging chairs,” said Joseph Conforti.
Roxanne Jaramillo added: “The services provided here are top notch and they are very accommodating. You get a beverage with every service and each person takes their time to make your experience the best it can be.” Nams Nail Spa “makes you feel like an A-lister as soon as you walk in the door,” noted Leanne Buckley. “The personalized customer service is what I love about them. Whether you’re a regular or a first time walk in, you are treated as if you are the most important person in the world — who doesn’t want that!?!”
Other personal care hotspots included last year’s winner, the David Ryan Hair Salon located at 429 W46th Street between 9th and 10th Avenue, with many readers saying it’s “the only” place they’ll go for a haircut. “I’ve been a customer there for 23 years and only with Kiki,” said reader Charles Bloom. “He’s the best and that’s that. Too many reasons to list.” Other voters cited Hell’s Kitchen Barbers at 667 9th Avenue between W46th and W47th Street as their place for a trim. Jeff Stewart called the staff there an “awesome and friendly team — always schedule with Kelvin and Marco!” he added.
Timothy John’s Salon at 642 8th Avenue between W52nd and W53rd also comes highly recommended, with reader Sue Fitzgerald noting: “After years of going back to Jersey to get my hair done, I finally caved and picked a salon nearby. Gracey is a GENIUS. I’ve never been happier with my hair color and wish I had started going sooner! The entire staff are so friendly and kind — I always look forward to my appointments!” West Vibe at 451 W46th Street between 9th and 10th Avenue rounded out the list, with reader Dani Letsche noting that “IT JUST ABSOLUTELY IS THE BEST!!! Elizabeth is the sweetest and most knowledgeable person. I can’t believe I found such a personalized experience like this in NYC. Any time I walk in to make an appointment, restock on shampoo or just say hi, it’s like walking into a small hometown salon.”
Located squarely in the middle of New York’s entertainment district, it’s not hard to find a world-class performance venue in Hell’s Kitchen. This year’s repeat winner statuette goes to the much-loved Birdland at 315 W44th Street between 8th and 9th Avenue, to little surprise for many fans of the concert hall, who call it an unparalleled spot to take in top-notch music of all genres. “It’s the best because it’s the best,” said David Crommett. “World-class jazz, innovative programming, comfortable surroundings, and first-class food and drink delivered efficiently and unobtrusively. Gianni Valente and his crew are a neighborhood jewel as well as an international attraction.” Added Albert Sgambati: “So many world-class artists pass through here, it’s a privilege to live so close to this place,” while Linda Porto marked Birdland as home to “a fine selection of music and acts and at many different times. I’m partial to Downstairs at Birdland — Susie Mosher’s lineup!” she added.
Other hyperlocal haunts like last year’s Best Newcomer The AMT Theater at 354 W 45th Street between 8th and 9th Avenue gave Birdland a run for their money — take it from reader Zoe Reeve, who described the new theater as a “gorgeous venue” with “fantastic theater options, very friendly and informative staff, and generally a great place to be.” Just uptown, 54 Below at 254 W54th Street between Broadway and 8th Avenue may be “**just** over the Hell’s Kitchen border by being on the 200-block of W 54th,” said reader Nathan Lichenstein, “but their recent conversion to a non-profit mission driven to preserve the art of cabaret theatre is worthy of a win.”
Further downtown, the groundbreaking Chain Theatre located at 312 W36th Street between 8th and 9th Avenue has “a diverse mix of programming from improv comedy to searing drama,” said Chris Harcum. “They have an annual film festival and maintain four performances spaces with rehearsal studios. In a time when venues are disappearing, it’s nothing short of a miracle that they are growing!” The Green Room 42 at 570 10th Avenue (corner of W42nd Street inside YOTEL) has also made waves as a hotspot for cabarets, concerts of new pieces, and movie screenings, with reader Lauren McGrail touting it as “easy to access, the food/drinks are no pressure, and there’s a great outdoor lounge to head to following the show.”
Terminal 5 located at 610 W56th Street between 11th and 12th Avenues is known as a “good venue to see great bands without having to go to Brooklyn,” said Carrie Johnson, while many Hell’s Kitchen residents including Deborah Lomax hailed the award-winning Off-Broadway Signature Theatre at 480 W42nd Street between 9th and 10th Avenue as “convenient! Away from the Broadway traffic and they offer different, yet, pertinent plays.”
Check out more photos from the event here…
Congratulations to all of this year’s winners, finalists and passionate voters — you are what makes Hell’s Kitchen the wonder of the West Side!
Special Thanks to:
Thanks to the awards sponsor Wells Fargo, our event hosts at the Intrepid Museum along with the HYHK Alliance, Romer Hell’s Kitchen hotel and the Durst Organization for support. Illustration of the Awards by Chelsey Hill, design by Lee Caple and printing by Scruffy Duffy’s.
Local businesses generously supported the awards evening with food and drink.
Empanada Mama — a mix of beef, chicken and veggie empanadas
Amy’s Bread — hummus and breadsticks
Sullivan Street Bakery — pizzas and bread twists
The Marshal — cheese, meat and fruit platters
Fresh from Hell — Acai Bowls
Veritas Studio Wine — a selection of red, white and sparkling wine
Grand Cru Wine and Spirits — Sparkling Rose
‘ritas — Cases of beer!
Schmackary’s — Cookies for the goody bags…