The very name of Hell’s Kitchen, once the city’s hotbed of gangs and gangsters, used to send shivers up the spines of law-abiding citizens. Today a mention of the neighborhood is likely to get the taste buds watering. On a walk through Hell’s Kitchen on and around Ninth Avenue from 40th and 59th streets you’ll encounter an international smorgasbord of delicious offerings almost every step of the way. Many of the street’s eateries are simple storefronts, and just about all serve on the premises and offer takeout as well.
So, take your pick. Greek? Consider the fried Cretan meatballs at Uncle Nick’s (747 Ninth Ave at 51st St), creamy spreads at Kashkaval (856 Ninth Ave at 56th St), and heavenly baklava at Poseidon Bakery (629 Ninth Ave at 44th St). Middle Eastern? Azuri Café (465 W. 51st St, near Tenth Ave) makes the city’s best shwarma sandwich, and Gazala’s Place (709 Ninth Ave at 49th St) specializes in chak choka, eggs sautéed over garlic, onion, and tomato, and other dishes from the Druse sect. Latin? Oovina (496 Ninth Ave at 37th St) makes a mean pile of yucca fries, and Rice & Beans (744 Ninth Ave at 50th St), true to its name, sticks to simple and delicious variations of Brazilian staples. Among the many places to satisfy a sweet tooth are Holey Cream (796 9th Ave) for build-your-own donut ice cream sandwiches, Little Pie Company (424 W. 43rd St) for sour cream apple walnut pie and other desserts, and Amy’s (672 Ninth Ave at 46th St) for perfect brownies and breads. Among the many excellent grocery stores, Ninth Avenue International Foods (543 Ninth Ave at 40th St) is piled high with Middle Eastern spices and Greek olives and cheeses.
Stands brimming with all this ethnic bounty fill the avenue during the annual Ninth Avenue Street Festival in May