I've lived in the northeast end of Hell's Kitchen (close to Columbus Circle really) for a year and a half and the only place west of me that I've genuinely enjoyed is Shimizu. The expensive restaurants are usually pretty good, but it seems like all the "normal-price" (affordable or even a little splurgy) or cheap joints are completely forgettable. The one exception IMO is Gazala's Place, which seems like it was a good find.
I'm not looking for anything in particular, just food that is much better than the prices would suggest. Lunch, dinner, whatever. I guess this is an open forum. My feeling is that the food in Hell's Kitchen, especially 9th Avenue, for the most part, kind of sucks. I haven't tried everything but I've just about given up looking for a place that turns out to be surprisingly good. I'm not totally cheap but every now and then I'm satisfied to eat at Rudy's. Anyway, I get the sense that I'm missing something and it will be a revelation: i.e. both my stomach and wallet are optimistic.
Let me add that I used to live on Northern Blvd in Jackson Heights, where everything was always surprisingly good.
318 W 51st St, New York, NY 10019