In honor of the recent blue moon I figured I’d divert from my usual complaining—though it is what I do best—and use my Hell's Bitchen column to celebrate my neighborhood. I did move here purposely after all.
While I enjoy bitching and moaning about my less-than-super super and the rundown building and its quirks, there are a few hidden gems that make me marvel at how great Hell’s Kitchen is:
- My absolute favorite bar and outdoor nightlife scene in the city is only one block away. Voted the #6 rooftop bar in the WORLD, Press Lounge atop the Kimpton Hotel – Ink 48 is a true treasure. It has a rare near-360 degree unobstructed view of the city and I can see my actual apartment from it. There are lounge chairs, a (non-swimming) pool and great signature cocktails.
- Also a mere block from my apartment is hidden gem Tehuitzingo—a Mexican grocery store-cum-tacqueria. Consistently voted one of the best cheap eats in NYC, don’t let the divey décor fool you; what it lacks in ambience it more than makes up for in authenticity and taste. Breakfasts are $6 and tacos start at $2.50.
- When I moved from the UES where I lived just a block from Carl Schurz Park and its wonderful dual dog parks, I was nervous I would not find another to bring Mini to, but thankfully I found an even better one. Clinton DeWitt park located on 52nd Street and Eleventh Avenue boasts two dog parks (one for little dogs and the other for big) and in the summer there are even filled swimming pools in which pooches can bathe.
- I recall when I lived in the area years ago people would rave about the produce at Stiles Farmers Market located on West 52nd Street between Ninth and Tenth Avenues but back then I never checked it out. Due to the lack of quality supermarkets nearby I sought out Stiles this time around and wasn’t disappointed. Cheap and fresh, the fruits and vegetables arrive daily and friends in the area and I joke that you can buy a full bag of food—enough for a whole week—and it always comes out to around $11. I love that you can buy single jalapenos or carrots for about thirteen cents each!
- Another hidden gem tucked away amongst auto repair shops and food cart alleys is Je and Jo Café and Ice Cream Shop. All ice creams are home made and paired with all natural cookie dough. I go there pretty much every morning for the best latte I’ve come across in the city thus far. And if you bring your dog they may even give you a free ice cream (lactose free for pets) for your canine.
- On the same street, tucked away on 47th between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues is Sullivan Bakery where one can buy freshly baked bread, sandwiches and pizza. It rivals nearby Amy’s Bread, which I also like.
- Up the block from my apartment there is a small gated park for which those who live in the community can purchase a key. For $10 you can access a little slice of quiet on an otherwise frenetic block. Established in 1977, Clinton Community Garden also houses beds of land for gardening for which residents can apply.
- I am a big fan of anything vintage, particularly midcentury modern, and I can get a good dose of that every weekend at the Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market on 39th Street and Ninth Avenue. I’m not sure what is more interesting—looking at vintage treasures or the people watching.
- In addition I am well entertained living sandwiched between several AMC theaters that offer a daily special of any movie before noon for only $6 or $7; Alvin Ailey Dance Company and the Broadway Theater District.
Seriously, sometimes even I can’t complain.
Kelly Kreth, recently returned to Hell’s Kitchen, chronicles her misadventures in her tenement-style walk-up in this bi-weekly BrickUnderground column, Hell’s Bitchen.
Also by Kelly Kreth:
Hell's Bitchen: I vow never to move again
15 things I've learned from 'Million Dollar Listing NY' so far
The 20 deadly sins NYC rental agents should never commit (but do)
Escape from the UES: Goodbye douchebaggery, hello Hell's Kitchen
Dear Neighbor: I am your worst nightmare
Living next to a bridge & tunnel club: KY Jelly wrestling, all-night noise, no regrets