Hell’s Kitchen: NYC Pre Theatre Dining

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While NYC has much to offer, one of my favorite things to do while visiting the city is to go out to eat for dinner and to see the broadway shows.  In order to both in the same night, it is easiest to make a dinner reservation in the Theatre District or Hell’s Kitchen prior to the musical. 

Both the Theatre District and Hell’s Kitchen may be found on NYC’s Midtown West Side which ranges from 34th to 59th Streets and between 5th and 12th Avenues. The Theatre District covers 41st to 54th Streets between 6th and 8th Avenues, and Hell’s Kitchen can be found to the West of 8th.

Until a few weeks ago, my visits to NYC were recently limited due COVID and two trips being planned when storms cancelled my flights.  Fortunately, I finally made it to the vibrant city for a food and theatre get away with my friend Tina.

Below is a list of restaurants in Hell’s Kitchen we visited, plus a few worthy selection I ate at in the past that remain open despite current COVID challenges.

Chez Josephine

Chez Josephine is located on 42nd west of 9th Ave on Theatre Row in Hell’s Kitchen.  Jean-Claude Baker opened the quaint space in 1986 as a tribute to Josephine Baker, one of the most successful African-American performers to ever take the stage.

Not only was she a performer, she was a Red Cross volunteer and spy for the French Resistance in WWII, a civil rights activist, and a mother of 12 adopted children!

The restaurant features a French-American menu including a three course, $45 Prix-Fixe option for theatre goers.  As a result, it is a popular dining choice and was packed with patrons when we arrived for our 5pm meal. 

While Tina and I varied our appetizer orders, Figs with Prosciutto and Goat Cheese and Onion Soup, respectively, we both ordered the same entrée and dessert, so we didn’t get to do too much tasting.  The onion soup was superb, the sole and couscous a little bland, and the chocolate mousse cake tasty.

Of course, the restaurant includes a regular menu, but the prix-fixe options appealed to us.  Want a more relaxed meal, no problem?  Enjoy the live piano music while dining without a scheduled show.

figs and prosciutto at Chez Josephine in NYC Hell's Kitchen

Danji

I did not know that Danji had earned a Michelin Star when I was trying to make a reservation at this tiny Korean Restaurant.  No wonder I couldn’t snag a spot for two on a Friday night in December a month in advance.  Fortunately, Wednesday at 6 pm was easier.

The small space includes a bar that seats six to seven, shared high-top table space, and temporary building on the street that was likely erected during COVID.  We took two seats at the bar and despite being near the door, the heater kept us warm.

It was very difficult to decide between all the small plates, so again we went with the Prix-Fixe dinner which cost $68.  While I’m glad we did (so we know what to order next time), we could not finish the 9 courses.

Everyone at the table must participate in the tasting, but the staff was very accommodating to us and willingly switched a meat dish to vegetarian since my friend was pescatarian. 

The Yellowtail Sashimi is definitely a repeat order.  It was fantastic.  I also really enjoyed the spicy chicken wings and got most of those to myself.  But having eaten three courses prior, including tofu and a shrimp and scallion pancake, I was hardly hungry. 

yellowtail sashimi at Danji in Hell's Kitchen NYC

Perhaps that is why we weren’t sold on the rice cake or the cod which are most people’s favorites.  I will say, the sauce is similar on all the dishes, so it might just be best to pick your favorite protein.

We finished up the meal with kimchi, rice, and sesame ice cream which was surprisingly good.  Overall, we really enjoyed Danji and will definitely make this Hell’s Kitchen restaurant on 52nd between 8th and 9th a regular.

ViceVersa

In my opinion, you can’t go to New York without visiting an Italian restaurant.  And there a plenty from which to choose!  ViceVersa is located on 51st between 8th and 9th and is open for dinner from 5pm to 10pm Tuesday through Saturday.

The restaurant is quite festive during the holidays, and we were very pleased with both the ambience and the food. Tina described the gnocchi as some of the best she had ever had.  My spinach pasta with peas and prosciutto in a light cream sauce was superb. 

These main dishes coupled with an appetizer each were so filling that we couldn’t finish!  I hate to say this, but we took the gnocchi and pasta back to the hotel, The Belvedere, which is perfectly located for a trip focused on dining and the theatre!

Becco

Becco is another great Italian restaurant which was recommended to me by a New Yorker.  According to its website, “the name Becco is derived from the Italian verb, beccare, which means to peck, nibble or savor something in a discriminating way.”

It is also located between 8th and 9th Aves, on 46th Street.  The restaurant was opened in 1993 by Lidia Bastianich and her son Joe Bastianich.  We saw Joe, a judge on Masterchef, at the bar when we arrived.

The Hell’s Kitchen restaurant looked small at first, but after weaving through the tables placed in every nook and cranny, we found two more rooms.  Both the Pollo al Limone and “Joe’s Veal Chop” were excellent.

Bea

Bea features a new American menu which is served on small plates for sharing.  Our order of pork dumplings, tuna tar guacamole, grilled scallops, and flourless chocolate cake did not disappoint.  And for anyone who enjoys cocktails, this restaurant is the place to eat and drink!

The large space with lighted indoor trees and classic movies playing silently on various walls provides a fun atmosphere too.  As with all the aforementioned restaurants, it is conveniently located near the theatre in Hell’s Kitchen on 43rd and 9th.

44 & X

44 & X also features American cuisine.  It is located a little farther west at 10th Ave and 44th.  This bright and airy Hell’s Kitchen restaurant offers both indoor and outdoor dining.  44 & X changes its menu with the season, but both the lamb and fish were excellent.  Along with offering both a pre and post theatre meal, it also serves brunch on the weekends.  In fact, all the above restaurants except Danji are also open for brunch.  

It’s hard to say which one of these Hell’s Kitchen restaurants were my favorite, but I’d have to go with Danji or ViceVersa.  All of them served us with plenty of time to reach the theatre.

I’m saddened that only two weeks after we saw five shows, many of the productions are shutting down due to the latest variant of COVID, Omicron.  I’m so thankful we timed our trip to NYC perfectly in the second week of December! ETB

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Beth Bankhead

Former public finance professional turned award winning travel blogger and photographer sharing the earth's beauty one word and image at a time.

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