Where did Hell’s Kitchen get its name? How did the neighborhood develop? What are the best places to eat?
Now, you can Google the answers to these questions but there is nothing like a history lesson, minced with some urban legends and a side of good eats to really make the exploration of Hell’s Kitchen a fun time.
Which is why when Manhattan Walking Tours invited me to join in on one of their walking food tours through the neighborhood, I jumped at the chance. Unless eating in New York is your full-time gig, there is really no way to stay on top of all the great places to dine in, even in one neighborhood and with an area as ever-changing as Hell’s Kitchen, it’s difficult to know where to start.
But Nancy, our guide, did a really great job at highlighting some spots that celebrated the diversity of New York City’s culinary scene, giving us a bit of the history behind it all.
The children of Mickey Spillane, the leader of the Westies, an Irish American gang that operating from Hell’s Kitchen (who was later assassinated by rival among them) opened up a tavern in the area in honor of their dad. So New York.
Speak easy, brothel, and tenement for actors are just some of the roles the brownstones have played in Hell’s Kitchen. What they stay as and what they turned into is one of the insights offered on the tour.
Not only should you come hungry, but you should come adventurous and ready to try new things. I won’t tell you all the places we stopped into because you really should take the tour to have the full experience, but here are a couple that stood out as my favorite spots.
Bali Nusa Indah – 45th st & 9th Avenue (Indonesian)
Martabak Daging – beef, curried flavored eggs, onion wrapped in philo dough.
Sate Ayam – Indonesian Barbecue chicken with peanut sauce.
Holey Cream, at 53rd street and 9th Avenue.
The insane doughnut ice cream sandwich. I made a sincere effort at it but barely made a dent!
If the tour leaves you feeling like you could use an even longer walk with no eating involved, Manhattan Walking Tours offers the option to combine tours at a discounted rate. Though I have walked Central Park plenty, I like to revisit it from time to time on a tour because I get to hear something new about the park and with 843 acres, there’s always something new to discover.
With the change of season right around the corner, I would recommend booking a tour through the park to take it all in. Make sure to wear comfortable walking shoes – seriously ladies, leave the cute, heals behind, and bring sunscreen and water.
The tour took about 4 hours to complete and on a really nice day it makes for a wonderful afternoon in the city. Also, don’t forget to tip your guide!
For more on the company and the tours check out their website at ManhattanWalkingTours.com.