Times Square in Midtown, New York City

City Guide / New York City

New York City Neighborhood Guide: Midtown West and Chelsea

By Ruthie Fierberg | Oct 25, 2021

If you’re thinking about moving to New York City, it can be easy to get overwhelmed with the sheer number of neighborhoods to choose from. Midtown West, also known as Hell’s Kitchen, stretches from 59th Street to 34th Street (North to South) and from Fifth Avenue to Twelfth Avenue (from East to West). Chelsea is the neighborhood just below from 34th Street down to 14th Street.

Midtown is probably what comes to mind when you think of Manhattan: Times Square, Broadway, bright lights, flashing billboards, and taxis and crowds everywhere (along with a life-size Elmo!). Because it’s home to the Theatre District, it does attract many tourists, but the areas get less touristy the farther west you get from Broadway.

Moving downtown, things get a little seedier near Penn Station until you hit 28th Street, where things begin to get classy. If the Upper East Side is old-world high-society along Central Park, Chelsea is modern chic and known as a destination for the style gays. 

Thinking about moving to Midtown or Chelsea in NYC? Here’s our guide to the best restaurants, coffee shops, grocery stores, outdoor attractions, gyms, nightlife, things to do, and transportation in this Manhattan area.

Best restaurants in the neighborhood

Thanks to the inextricably linked combo of “dinner and a show,” Midtown hosts hundreds of restaurants to pair with 41 Broadway theatres. Officially, 46th Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues is Restaurant Row, but dining hotspots also line Ninth for the length of the neighborhood—plus, there are great eateries on Eighth and Tenth. Those who work in New York theatre (whether onstage or in the office) also tend to make up much of the regulars at bars and restaurants in the area.

Italian 

Becco, on Restaurant Row, boasts some of the best Italian food in Manhattan. Get their Pasta Special: Caesar salad or antipasti for your appetizer and endless helpings of the three fresh, homemade pastas on offer that day. Another great Italian spot is Carmine’s, which is best for family-style dinner. 

Mexican 

For Mexican, Tacuba is all-around fantastic and Hell’s Kitchen (yes, that’s the name of the restaurant) boasts big, delicious portions and unbeatable nachos.

Mediterranean

Kashkaval Garden is ideal for Mediterranean dips, tapas, and flatbreads. You must have brunch, lunch, and dinner at Hummus Kitchen—their mazze, CousCous Chicken, and breakfast Shakshuka are our favorites! For more upscale Mediterranean, go to Taboon.

Fine dining 

For a special night out with a higher price tag, Ocean Prime or Quality Meats will hit the spot.

Brunch

The best brunch in the entire city sits nestled in the Parker Meridien hotel at Norma’s. They make oatmeal that is to die for—yes, oatmeal!—because it’s oatmeal brûlée. The Artychoked Benedict, Crunchy French Toast, and Banana Macadamia-Nut Flap Jacks are equally irresistible—and the fresh-squeezed orange juice is worth every penny.

Farther downtown in Chelsea, brunch is basically a sport. Cafeteria offers simple but deliciously executed dishes. Cookshop wows with its freshness and flavor—we especially recommend the Market Vegetables (with poached egg) and the Casserole French Toast. The Grey Dog has a rustic, cafe vibe but the freshness and flavor of farm-to-table. 

Vegan and vegetarian options

Westville is ideal for vegans and vegetarians (though they also happen to make a mean burger). We like it because of the Market Plate, where you can order four vegetables as your main. 

If options are what you crave, head to Chelsea Market, which is like a food court but elevated. Personally, we dig the falafel at Mizon, the Cambodian sandwiches at Num Pang, and the Japanese-Mexican fusion of Takumi Taco. 

Other food options

Wondee Siam is a perfect hole-in-the-wall for authentic Thai lunch or dinner. If you want to try some legit Neapolitan pizza, visit Don Antonio (their head chef is from Naples). For something healthy, fresh, and fast-casual, it doesn’t get better than Pure Ktchn. The Blue Dog is great for American breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 

Dessert

Don’t skip dessert! Magnolia Bakery has an outpost right near Radio City Music Hall. The banana pudding will change your life. If you’re looking for a cookie, Schmackary’s is the go-to place. They have staple flavors like Funfetti and Maple Bacon and also rotate monthly special flavors. Ample Hills Creamery in Chelsea serves some of the richest ice cream around.

Where to get groceries

Midtowners can hit up the Whole Foods on the lowest level of Columbus Circle. There’s also D’Agostino or the Food Emporium for your basics. The Amish Market on Eighth Avenue offers a combination of local artisans and international suppliers for top-notch quality. In Chelsea, Trader Joe’s supplies its characteristic selection of basics and TJ specials for competitive prices. There is also a Fairway, which is great for brand-name groceries, meats and cheeses. West Side Market is best for produce and prepared foods. 

Where to get coffee

St Kilda brings Down Under to the West Side—don’t miss their stellar flat white. Frisson Espresso is a chic grab-and-go for a high-quality cup. Blue Bottle, located inside Rockefeller Center, is the best if you need to be closer to the East Side. 

Looking for something a little out of the ordinary? Hit up Bibble & Sip for a matcha or lavender latte. And, for a strong brew, Culture Espresso Bar is aces.

In Chelsea, Seven Grams Coffee is one of the best independent cafes around. Stumptown Coffee Roasters has also made quite a splash with their Columbia brew!

Outdoor attractions in the neighborhood

The pier along the length of the Hudson River has undergone a beautiful rehabilitation that leaves the space much more inviting for a walk, run, or bike ride. You might also choose to take a Circle Line Cruise to gaze at Harbor Lights, learn about New York City landmarks, or sail down to the Statue of Liberty. It’s a little touristy, but still fun! 

Hudson Yards is the latest development in Midtown that’s worth visiting. Check out the incomparable views from The Vessel, catch a performance or exhibit at The Shed, or get some retail therapy in at its high-end mall. 

Wander along the Highline, the former above-ground railroad tracks that have been transformed into a lush garden pathway. You’ll also encounter local artists and their work amid the 16 garden zones along this NYC attraction. Trust us—you don’t have to go all the way to Central Park for some New York greenery!

After years of construction, Little Island—right on the border of Chelsea and the Village—is finally open! The manmade island boasts lush greenery, gorgeous waterside views, and free arts and cultural events.

Local gyms and workout spots

You can find a local New York outpost for Equinox, Crunch, or Planet Fitness conveniently located in Midtown. In fact, the new Equinox Hotel just opened in Hudson Yards! For intense fitness fiends, visit CrossFit’s Hell’s Kitchen location. Blink Fitness is a no-frills gym that’s clean and has everything you need for a solid workout. 

But only in New York City will you find Mark Fisher Fitness (MMF). Founded by former Broadway performer Mark Fisher, the gym refers to its facilities as the “Ninja Clubhouse” and operates with the slogan of, “Serious fitness for ridiculous humans.” MFF revolves around community and their clients (aka ninja unicorns) exercise in classes or personal training sessions. 

Also unique to New York are dance classes at Broadway Dance Center, taught by Broadway professionals! 

Nightlife

Since Midtown is the Theatre District of Manhattan, it would be a crime to move to NYC and not see a Broadway show. However, you won’t have to necessarily break the bank, as there are multiple ways to buy affordable tickets (especially if you’re living in the city full-time). There are also tons of Off-Broadway theatres and the caliber of work is equally good. Find out what’s playing using a site like Playbill

Feinstein’s/54 Below, Birdland, and Green Room 42 are all cabaret venues in the area. The styles vary from night to night (though Birdland specializes in jazz), but each typically features Broadway performers in solo concerts. 

The gay nightlife scene is strong in Midtown and Chelsea—hit up Industry or Rise Bar for nightly drag shows, Flaming Saddles is an ode to gay culture (their TVs silently play old musicals like “Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” while bartenders interrupt with “Coyote Ugly”-style dance breaks every hour). 

Chelsea is best for classy bars like Raines Law Room and Bathtub Gin. Enjoy a delicious cocktail and a party atmosphere on the roof of the McKittrick Hotel (heated in winter), or take in a performance of “Sleep No More.” You can also spend an evening on the floating dive bar The Frying Pan orcCatch live music or stand-up comedy at City Winery on the Pier. 

Other things to do

Chelsea Market isn’t just a place to eat—it’s also a place to shop, with its local, upscale craft market. Chelsea Piers is one giant indoor playground right in the middle of NYC. The sports complex features a water-set driving range and golf club, bowling lanes, an indoor ice rink, a fitness club, and an 80,000-foot field house including full gymnastics facilities, turf fields, batting cages, and more. 

For the more culturally inclined, Chelsea is a haven for art lovers. Check out this Gallery map and poke around. We recommend the Gagosian Gallery (Larry Gagosian’s second-oldest), David Zwirner Gallery for contemporary exhibitions, the Agora Gallery, and the Wilensky Exquisite Mineral Gallery—all of which are free. Artechouse showcases stunning audio-visual exhibits, playing with light, color, and technology. The Rubin Museum of Art features a robust permanent collection of Himalayan works. And, of course, the largest and most renowned art in Chelsea/Midtown is in Midtown at the Museum of Modern Art, aka MoMA

Also in Midtown, the famous Javits Convention Center plays host to everything from ComicCon to DragCon to The New York Times Travel Show. Check out their calendar here. For designer shopping, wander Fifth Avenue or visit The Shops at Columbus Circle. You can also find more art across the street at the Museum of Arts and Design.

Transportation

A monthly Metrocard ($127 for 30 days) is the best bang for your buck and works for subways and buses. It’s rare to have a car in the city—particularly in Manhattan—and Midtown is the heart of it all. 

The Times Square subway stop connects to the Local 1 and Express 2/3, the local C and Express A/C, the local N/R/W and Express Q, the 7 train to Queens, and the shuttle across town to Grand Central. A block over on Sixth Avenue, you can catch the B/D/F/M. The 1/2/3 and A/C/E run down to Chelsea along Seventh Avenue and Eighth Avenue, respectively. The cross-town buses at 34th, 23rd, and 14th Streets are your best bets for quick travel to the East Side (or farther west from a train). 

Land a great apartment in Midtown West or Chelsea

If you like the idea of moving to an apartment in Midtown West or Chelsea, Landing offers fully furnished apartments with flexible lease terms, concierge services, seamless transfers, and all the amenities you need. Browse our available apartments in Midtown and Chelsea, or contact us to learn more about how a Landing membership works.

Still looking for the right New York City neighborhood for you? Browse our other New York City neighborhood guides.

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About the author

Ruthie Fierberg

Ruthie Fierberg is an independent arts journalist, editor, moderator, on-camera host, producer, and theatrical consultant based in New York City. She is the creator and host of the podcast Why We Theater on the Broadway Podcast Network, which digs into the onstage works we love to create the offstage change we need. Find more at ruthiefierberg.com and follow her IG: @ruthiefierceberg / Twitter: @RuthiesATrain.