You don’t have to visit Restaurant Row to satisfy your epicurean cravings in Hell’s Kitchen. The neighborhood has a banquet’s worth of gourmet markets.
431 W. 37th St. (between 9th and 10th Avenues)
An outpost of the famed Brooklyn gourmet grocery, this emporium has everything you need for your weekly shop—or for that Cordon Bleu feast you’ve been planning for months. Highlights include grass-fed beef from Slope Farms in the Catskills, an olive bar, prepared foods you could pass off as your own, and an array of store-brand natural products (fresh pasta! coffee blends!). If you don’t want to shop on an empty stomach, make a reservation at Chef’s Table, Brooklyn Fare’s restaurant, which earned three Michelin stars and is known for its extravagant 20-course tasting menu.
Produce for the picking at Brooklyn Fare. Image: Aimee Castenell/Flickr
Empire Coffee & Tea
568 Ninth Ave. (between 41st and 42nd Streets)
Empire has been keeping New Yorkers caffeinated since 1908—though you can buy plenty of decaf coffees and teas as well. French roast, Vienna roast, American roast; black tea, green tea, white tea; house blends and popular brands ranging from Taylor’s of Harrogate to PG Tips: There’s something here for every mug and kettle. In fact, the shop sells mugs and kettles too, along with grinders, cappuccino machines, and gift baskets.
Esposito Meat Market
500 Ninth Ave (at 38th Street)
Established in 1932, this butcher’s shop is now run by a grandson of the founder. As the cartoon of the pig on its logo suggests, Esposito’s is known for its pork, but it sells beef, chicken, lamb, venison, rabbit, duck, and even buffalo too. It makes its sausages itself—including andouille, bratwurst, frankfurters, chorizo, kielbasa, and chicken—and offers a fine array of cold cuts too. If you need suet for a traditional steak-and-kidney pudding, a rack of lamb to impress guests, caul fat to wrap a terrine, or a variety of Italian sausages, you’ll find them here.
Huascar & Co. Bakeshop
453 W. 54th St. (between 9th and 10th Avenues)
Owner Huascar Aquino was the first New York baker to win the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars, but cupcakes aren’t the only sweets you can pick up here. Brownies, cheesecakes, cookies, flans, macaroons, and elaborately decorated cakes are also on the menu. One element that makes the shop a standout is its incorporation of Caribbean and Latin American flavors and treats, such as vanilla cupcakes with dulce de leche filling, a pistachio flan with Valencia orange zest and cardamom, and tres leches macaroons.
724 11th Ave. (between 51st and 52nd Streets)
When your garden-variety salt, pepper, and garlic powder just won’t do, a trip to La Boîte is in order. Before opening the spice shop in 2006, Lior Lev Sercarz studied at the Institut Paul Bocuse in France and worked with chef Daniel Boulud at the latter’s flagship restaurant, Daniel. In addition to single spices, the shop sells custom blends, many with fanciful names, such as Breeze, a medley that includes tea, anise, and lemon; Iris, inspired by pan masala, the mix of crushed nuts, seeds, herbs, and spices served after meals in India; and Desert Rose, which teams halvah with sesame and rose petals. Treat yourself to a few chickpea-and-olive or honey-and-walnut cookies while you’re at it.
A spice display at La Boîte. Image: Edsel Little/Flickr
629 Ninth Ave. (between 44th and 45th Streets)
This family-owned and –operated bakery has been making its own Greek delectables, both sweet and savory, since 1923. It claims to be one of the only places in the country that still makes phyllo by hand, supplying not only its bakery customers but also restaurants and chefs. Grab a spanakopita (spinach pie with feta) or a tiropita (ricotta, cream cheese, and feta pie) for dinner and a baklava or some cookies for dessert. Be sure to pick up some olives, preserves, fresh goat yogurt, and other Greek specialties before you leave.
Poseidon Bakery. Image: Jazz Guy/Flickr
Westerly Natural Market
911 Eighth Ave. (at 54th Street)
You don’t have to be health conscious to appreciate Westerly’s wares. Yes, the market sells a vast assortment of nutritional supplements, homeopathic remedies, beans, grains, gluten-free and low-carb foods, organic produce, raw salads, vegan entrees, and meat and poultry free from hormones and antibiotics. But if tastiness is your top priority, you’ll be delighted by the deli sandwiches, the organic juice bar, and the protein and coconut shakes and smoothies. Then there’s the soup bar, which offers more than a dozen varieties daily, from Angus steak chili with beans to white bean escarole, with the likes of chipotle sweet potato, Hungarian mushroom, and New England clam chowder in between.