Skip to Content
$20 Dinner

Lovely’s Old Fashioned Is Slinging Old-School Comfort Food Into the Night in Hell’s Kitchen

The food is fast, cheap, and very good.

A hand holding a bacon cheeseburger on a sidewalk in New York City.

Lovely’s Old Fashioned’s bacon cheeseburger, $10. (Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)

There's no shortage of new restaurants with a retro feel around town these days, evoking everything from classic diners and luncheonettes to pizza joints and Hong Kong cafes. Comfort food that's better (and sometimes much better) than it needs to be, smiley service that still exudes that NYC cool, a general "oooooh look at this cute spot!" vibe—is this the hottest food trend of 2023? 

I don't know yet! But here's another recent opening to add to the list of old-school overachievers—Lovely's Old Fashioned, a lunch counter-esque place in the heart of Hell's Kitchen that serves a tight menu of burger shop classics and stays open until at least midnight. And, as is true at the most successful of these sorts of spots, there's definitely a labor-of-love element to the proceedings.  

"I've been a chef for about three decades, at fancy restaurants or big restaurants," Lovely's co-owner Adam Schop told Hell Gate. "But I've always wanted to have an old-fashioned hamburger shop. My grandmother Charlotte used to buy chunks of beef and grind it right at the table for me, like with one of those iron pewter kind of deals. It would take her longer to clean the grinder than to cook the one burger she grinded for me! She did that every day. It's one of my fondest memories. She used to hand cut her french fries too."   

Sidewinder fries, $5. (Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)

Like Schop's grandma, Lovely's grinds its own meat daily. And the burger here is great, the patty falling into that "just-right" size between those ubiquitous skinny smashburgers and the $30 jaw-stretchers you find on the city's tonier menus. It's griddled to a slight char, still a bit juicy, and topped with melted American cheese if you choose, plus raw onion, pickles, mayo (ketchup is available in packets, and should be utilized), all on a soft, buttered bun. You can order it as a double, or add a couple of strips of chewy bacon like I did, but it's also pretty perfect just as it is.   

Patty melt, $8.75. (Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)

There's a patty melt too, and it's a beauty, the beef smothered in grilled mushrooms and onions, lots of gooey Swiss cheese, pickles, and "Charlotte sauce" on a nice marble rye. The vegetarian version of this is called the "Mushrooben," and features a shitload of pastrami-seasoned fungi, Swiss, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing.  

And don't sleep on Lovely's all-beef "Snappy Dog," which arrives with so much griddled sauerkraut and onions on top that you think, "Wow, that looks like too much griddled sauerkraut and onions on top," but then you eat it and you realize it's actually exactly the right amount.  

Lovely's "Snappy Dog," $7.75. (Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)

Whatever else you get, get the fries, which are crisp, fluffy, salty as hell, and cut sidewinder-style, a shape I've neither seen nor heard of before, but which Schop aptly describes as "steak fries for nine years olds." Onion rings are available as well. For dessert, there are mini bundt cakes, and the star of the beverage selection is without question the super-sweet Kutztown red cream soda.

Pistachio chocolate bundt cakes, $5.50 each. (Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)

Lovely's, which opened in March, is the latest addition to Schop's Ninth Avenue mini-empire, which includes Zillions Pizza on 42nd Street ("right in between two pot dispensaries," he noted), and Steak Frites Bistro at 38th Street. There's not much room for decor here at Lovely's—there are just 10 seats at the counter inside, plus a couple of standing tables on the sidewalk—but I do dig the ghost sign on the main wall.       

(Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)

Lovely's Old Fashioned is located at 642 Ninth Avenue, just north of 45th Street, and is currently open on Sunday through Wednesday from noon to midnight, and on Thursday through Saturday from noon to 1 a.m. (646-918-6019)  

(Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)
Already a user?Log in

Thanks for reading!

Give us your email address to keep reading two more articles for free

See all subscription options

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Hell Gate

Shame Upon New York City: Kawaski Trawick’s Killers to Face No Discipline

Five years after police killed Trawick, the NYPD announced there will be no consequences in a late-Friday news dump

April 12, 2024

Vampire Weekend at Their Most Serious and Least Fun

The youthful mischief, the pangs of heartbreak that punctuated them, they're only memories here.

April 12, 2024

And the Winner of Hell Gate’s 2024 March Madness of Hot Takes Is…

You'll never look at someone clipping their nails on the subway the same way.

Steal a Boat in Your Mind and Sail Away on This Playlist

And read these links while you're out there, if you have service.

April 12, 2024
See all posts