Welcome to SoHell

1. International Grocery
543 Ninth Ave., nr. 40th St.; 212-279-1000
Turmeric and paprika for $4 a pound. Fresh salads and a multitude of olives. Arab orange blossom and rose waters on one shelf, Greek almond cake on another, and superlative taramosalata, hummus, and baba ghannouj, all at $5 a pound.

2. Sea Breeze Fish Market
541 Ninth Ave., at 40th St.; 212-563-7537
Fish so fresh it’s still winking, at prices about a third less than fancier gourmet markets. Organic tilapia fillets run $7.50 per pound, wild striped bass is $4.49, Mako shark $3.50, and tuna a very respectable $6 to $10.

3. West African Grocery
535 Ninth Ave., nr. 40th St.; 212-695-6215
Outside Harlem, this is Manhattan’s resource for painfully hot Scotch Bonnet peppers, cassava couscous, Gori flour from Ghana, palm-oil paste, dried senna leaves, and a particularly thick peanut butter used to make Ghanaian soup.

4. Artisanal Premium Cheese Center
500 W. 37th St., at Tenth Ave., second fl.; 877-797-1200
Terrance Brennan’s cheese sanctuary, on the second floor of an anonymous building, isn’t a walk-in store, but you can take tasting classes, or get a group together and book a tour. Peek into the caves, filled with boxes of ripening goat, sheep, and cow products, and ask for a taste of the French banon.

5. Trio French Bakery
476 Ninth Ave., nr. 37th St.; 212-695-4296
Crisp apple turnovers, Irish soda bread, dried-fruit-and-nut biscotti, and dense semolina rolls are all fresh and satisfying, but the pumpernickel-raisin loaf, which has the sweetness of brioche and the plump-fruit density of strudel, is what people line up for.

6. Café Andalucia Tapas Bar
533 Ninth Ave., nr. 40th St.; 212-736-9411
The bartender says first-time visitors wonder why they aren’t regulars. A 300,000-song digital jukebox, a sizable menu of under-$10 meals (try the patatas bravas with house-made garlic sauce), and art by owner-chef Guillermo Vidal on the walls usually convert them.

7. Sahara Grill
558 Seventh Ave., nr. 40th St.; 212-391-6555
A broader, better selection than the usual gyro-grab hut. The baklava is flaky, the sandwiches generous, and there are delicious Uludag sodas (try the strawberry) from Istanbul hidden amid the Mountain Dew.

8. Burgers & Cupcakes
458 Ninth Ave., nr. 36th St.; 212-643-1200
Caterer Mitchell London’s retail outpost makes mean scrambled eggs with jalapeño that fortify Saturday flea-market shoppers; the burgers and cupcakes hold their own, too.

9. Hudson Yards Café
450 Tenth Ave., at 35th St.; 212-239-4606
Jimmy Reardon, who pioneered West Chelsea with the bygone bar Chelsea Commons, has resurfaced here with the same generous pours, deep jukebox (Cesaria Evora, Fountains of Wayne B-sides), and beloved blackened-steak tidbits from the old place.

10. Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery & Grill
408 Eighth Ave., nr. 30th St.; 212-244-4049
The jerk-chicken platter with a side of plantains plus free wi-fi make this a warm refuge from the Garden’s chaotic schlockiness.

11. Midtown Comics
200 W. 40th St., nr. Seventh Ave; 212-302-8192
You’ll see cops stocking up on manga at the long queue at the cash register, Beatles and Kiss cartoons on DVD, and back issues of everything from Green Lantern to Frank Miller and Alan Moore. Upstairs, with the talking Scarface action figure and porn racks, is a bit more disturbing.

12. The Drama Book Shop
250 W. 40th St., nr. Eighth Ave.; 212-944-0595
There’s a comfy lounge upstairs where would-bes hang out between callbacks. Browse the regional cost-of-living guides and books on dialect practice. A sign directed at the aspiring but strapped states, if you can’t afford the plays, please read them here.

13. 37 ARTS
450 W. 37th St., nr. Tenth Ave.; 212-560-8912
This arts compound houses the three theaters that are part of 37 ARTS and the Baryshnikov Arts Center. Its silvery façade echoes the ridges on the steam towers by the Hudson.

14. Chelsea Garden Center
499 Tenth Ave., at 38th St.; 212-727-7100
An eruption of greenery on a particularly bleak block that looks more like an English garden in full bloom than a city plant vendor. The spectacular selection of upscale outdoor furniture (lots of teak) upstairs is a good place to lounge and dream of having a worthy terrace.

15. Hell’s Kitchen Neighborhood Association Bird Park
39th St. bet. Ninth and Tenth Aves.; 212-501-2704
The neighborhood’s loveliest surprise: a flower garden and mourning-dove refuge inside the tiny triangle that forms the Javits Center parking on-ramp and the Lincoln Tunnel access road.

16. Waterway New York Overlook
38th St. and Twelfth Ave.
Recline on sculpted aquamarine chaises longues and gaze at the Palisades. Perfect for tanning while watching sightseeing helicopters buzz upward from the heliport eight blocks south, and for watching the sunset over Weehawken, New Jersey.

17. Affirmation Arts
523 W. 37th St., nr. Tenth Ave.; 212-925-0092
By fall, Matthews Architects will complete a trellised white building that will house an art gallery and artists’ studios and provide a glowing counterpart to the Javits’s darkness.

18. Chashama Window Program
266 W. 37th St., nr. Eighth Ave.; 212-391-8151
One of art patron Anita Durst’s temporary avant-garde installation spaces, this storefront is a showcase for a rotation of dancers, artists, puppeteers, and performers. Watching the construction workers watch them is the real entertainment.

19. The End of the High Line
34th St. and Eleventh Ave.
The cause célèbre turned beloved public space looks raw up here where it terminates, with just a bolt of green visible from the street.

20. Fashion Forty Lounge
202 W. 40th St., nr. Seventh Ave.; 212-221-3628
This tinted-window storefront offers $12 panini, $8 marinated asparagus, $10 buffalo wings, a hearty drink menu, and a balcony on which to enjoy them.

21. Why Not
538 Ninth Ave., nr. 40th St.; 212-279-1699
Darts, a pool table, and a dark interior that make it an appealing daytime refuge when the sun’s just a little too bright.

22. Stitch Bar & Lounge
247 W. 37th St., nr. Eighth Ave.; 212-852-4826
Forget the trendy upstairs lounge. Downstairs is where the real people hang out and watch ESPN while eating spinach dip from a pumpernickel-loaf bowl.

23. Local West
One Penn Plaza, at Eighth Ave.; 212-629-7070
Don’t let its proximity to Penn Station put you off. The rooftop terrace has great views of city rooftops and water towers, and the nachos are generous and tasty.

24. West Bank Café
407 W. 42nd St., nr. Ninth Ave. ; 212-695-6909
The best place for eavesdropping post-curtain; actors and theater types gather at the long wood bar to dismember their colleagues’ work over tuna tartare and pan-seared salmon.

25. Empire Coffee & Tea
568 Ninth Ave., nr. 42nd St.; 212-268-1220
There’s well-priced brewing paraphernalia here, and an impressive selection of teas from all over the world, but the big draws at this wholesaler are the custom coffee-bean blends like “Truckstop Fiesta,” a smooth yet hearty combination of Brazilian French roast and Kenya AA.

26. Cupcake Café
545 Ninth Ave., nr. 40th St.; 212-465-1530
It still sells those extravagantly buttercreamed cakes and cupcakes, but in its new location, Cupcake is also the quick stop for pre-flea fueling. A large coffee and one of the hearty whole-wheat-oat doughnuts will sustain a full morning of bargain-hunting.

27. The Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market
39th St. bet. Ninth and Tenth Aves. (Saturday and Sunday, sunrise to sunset)
The relocated flea market now occupies two side parking lots and a downhill-sloping block. On the Ninth Avenue side, aggressive vendors hawk Ethiopian handbags, antique jewelry, and vintage People magazines. Toward Tenth Avenue, the items get bigger (bicycles, furniture) while the crowd gets smaller.

28. HK Restaurant
523 Ninth Ave., at 39th St.; 212-947-4208
Nurse a $3.50 side of mashed potatoes or a half-price cocktail and be glad you’re not a commuter as you watch cars jockey their way into the Lincoln Tunnel during rush hour. The $7 two-item omelette is the neighborhood’s best breakfast deal.

29. Sausage Row
No animal goes uncased along this stretch of Ninth Avenue. At G. E. Cuzins Food Market (520 Ninth Ave., nr. 39th St; 212-736-5737), there’s alligator sausage and rattlesnake alongside packs of ostrich burgers and buffalo dogs. One block south, Esposito’s Pork Shop (500 Ninth Ave., at 38th St.; 212-279-3298) follows the waste-no-part ethic by stocking up on neck bones, pork shoulders, and rib bellies. If you can only handle the Italian names you recognize, go to Manganaro’s for excellent cold cuts (488 Ninth Ave., nr. 37th St.; 212-563-5331).

30. LaDuca Shoes
534 Ninth Ave., nr. 40th St.; 212-268-6751
Here’s where Broadway comes for custom-made tap and ballet shoes that withstand professional pounding. You may not need that much expertise, but there are ready-made shoes available, too.

31. Sandwich Planet
534 Ninth Ave., nr. 40th St.; 212-273-9768
If the options overwhelm you at this everything-on-bread emporium, just let the staff pick for you; they’ve made it all before.

32. OM Factory
265 W. 37th St., nr. Eighth Ave., seventeenth fl.; 212-616-8662
Its $20 unlimited sessions for a week is a true bargain, and the studio’s seventeenth-floor location means it gets great light. The incredibly poky elevator could make you lose your serenity on the way, though.

33. Steven & Francine’s Complete Automotive Repair
527 W. 36th St., nr. Tenth Ave.; 212-977-5556
Forget MoMA’s classic-cars display: At this upscale mechanic, you can actually touch the stuff. Right now there’s a ’57 Cadillac Biarritz convertible and a ’60 Mercury Monterey on blocks. Co-owner Mark Levine just finished retooling a ’53 Army Jeep for an upstate client. The business also handles tune-ups on your ho-hum wheels.

34. Exit Art
475 Tenth Ave., at 36th St.; 212-966-7745
Where the sky widens west of the Lincoln Tunnel, this capacious gallery and cultural center hosts musicians, D.J.’s, and visual artists working multicultural themes. It feels like a cross between a student union and a studio complex.

35. Bloom & Krup
347 W. 36th St., nr. Eighth Ave.; 212-673-2760
This no-frills appliance shop deals $400 Weber grills and a selection of Viking convection ovens. The sales force quizzes you on what you plan to cook before they steer you toward the appropriate gear.

36. The Church of Saint Michael
424 W. 34th St., nr. Ninth Ave.; 212-563-2575
The marble Jesus statue next to this elegant gray church looks down while the neighborhood looks up. The church will be 100 this year, but these arches and irony-free details maintain their dignity. Next: SoHell Real Estate

Real Estate

Until 2003 or so, the West Thirties were mostly tenements and lofts, not full-service buildings. But Sebastian Junger bought an apartment a couple of years ago, and fancy high-rises have appeared between Penn Station and the Javits Center. Here’s what’s available now.

37. Hudson Crossing
400 W. 37th St., at Ninth Ave
This fifteen-story mid-rise rents studios from $2,200 and two-bedrooms from $3,900. With a Sleepy’s and an H&R Block in the lobby, it has a dormlike feeling, but tenants like the on-site dry cleaning and social hours (Equity Residential managing agents, 212-563-8000).

38. The Olivia
315 W. 33rd St., nr. Eighth Ave.
In the shadow of Moynihan Station’s construction cranes, this building has a gym, a 250-car garage next door, and river views from nearly every apartment. There’s a Loews multiplex around the corner and the nation’s biggest post office down the street (rental office, 212-594-6660).

39. Infinity Court (pictured)
545 W. 34th St., nr. Eleventh Ave.
The cobblestone entrance creates a psychological break with West 34th Street. Inside, there are fourteen-foot ceilings, twin pedestal sinks in the bathrooms, and your choice of a terrace or a courtyard for roaming (Moinian Rentals, 212-808-4000).

40. The Orion
350 W. 42nd St., nr. Ninth Ave.
This 60-story condo developed by Gary Barnett includes a pool alongside the now-common full-service health club. Prudential Douglas Elliman broker Julian Hutter (212-702-4072) is listing a one-bedroom for $3,000.

SoHell Real Estate

Welcome to SoHell