Author and journalist Yvonna Russell started out as an aspiring actress. She loves living in Hell’s Kitchen and enjoys being at the heart of everything. This is Yvonna’s West Side Story.

Yvonna Russell in Hell's Kitchen
Yvonna by the new mural on W37th Street. Photo: Naty Caez

So, what’s your New York story? Born here, or just arrived?
I lived on the East Side in rented rooms for years, until I moved to the performing artist building Manhattan Plaza.

What was your first job? What do you do now?
I started as a struggling professional actress doing small parts and auditioning for everything. I cover fashion, good causes and the arts for various blogs and publications. 

What’s your favorite New York minute (or moment) so far?
I love a New York moment. One afternoon I was crossing 42nd St and I got a last-minute call from Mary Caraccioli to cover the Arts Arena gala at the Plaza Hotel. Three hours later, I was at a sit down candlelit dinner of caviar, escargot and chateaubriand around honorees and presenters Robert Wilson, Mikhail Baryshynikov, Mark Morris, Agnes Gund and James Ivory.

Share with us why you love Hell’s Kitchen
You live in the center of everything. Steps from Broadway and Off-Broadway, great restaurants and the Pier which is perfect for biking, yoga and picnics.

What’s your superpower or hidden talent?
Authenticity. I’ve written three novels Snatch, No Matter What and The Last Movie Star — based on the rollercoaster world of show business.

What else should we know about you?
I am thinking about a memorable dinner in Manhattan. I had volunteered with a group to make a spaghetti dinner and play board games at The Dwelling Place. Tucked under the Lincoln Tunnel overpass on 409 W40th Street, The Dwelling Place was a 15-bed transitional shelter with meals for homeless women. This makes me very sad they have closed.

Yvonna’s Favorite Hell’s Kitchen Places

Taco Mahal — 653 9th Avenue (bw W45/46th St)
Indian food and tacos so savory and delicious. I am addicted to the tandoori chicken wings. 

Yvonna Russell at Taco Mahal.
Yvonna ready for lunch at Taco Mahal. Photo: Naty Caez

K Salon — 789 9th Avenue (bw W52/53rd St)
During the pandemic my favorite hair salon Blossom closed. My fav Katy opened her own salon on 9th Avenue. Good prices, best deep conditioning treatment and haircuts.

Salvation Army — 536 W46th Street (bw 10th/11th Ave)
Our Salvation Army is the best. You’ll see everything there from Pucci, Prada, Old Navy to Zara. White tags mean the item is 99 cents. A great mix of people too — students, artists, resellers, stylists, vintage hunters and immigrants with vouchers.

Little Pie Company — 424 W43rd Street (bw 9th/10th Ave)
The pies are excellent, especially al la mode. The lovely Arnold has installed outdoor seating.

The Glasshouse — 660 12th Avenue (bw W48/49th St)
A fairly new modern event venue that is I think one of the best in the city with sweeping views of the Westside.

Westerly Natural Food Market — 911 8th Avenue (bw W54/55th St)
The high holy place for healthy people. I just go because I’m vain, consuming vitamins, fresh juices and organic beauty products.

Brooklyn Fare — 431 W37th Street (bw 9th/10th Ave)
I love the coffee. Best and reasonable sushi. Wonderful cheeses. It’s a tiny space compared to the other locations but I love it. If you know someone with an expense account go to the Chef’s Table behind a secret door near the bread section.

Yvonna Russell at Brooklyn Fare.
Yvonna outside of Brooklyn Fare. Photo: Naty Caez

Sea Breeze Fish Market — 541 9th Avenue (bw W40/41st St)
They sell the best big fresh scallops and crabmeat stuffed shells. Good prices.

You can follow Yvonna on Instagram @yvonna_snaps. If you know someone who would make a great West Side Story (or you would like to nominate yourself), please fill in this form —

You can check out more West Side Stories and reader recommendations on W42ST’s Hell’s Kitchen Local App.

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