Many of New York City’s most iconic foods can be found right in Penn, and these are the best eats at the train station.
Penn Station is iconic. Not only is it a symbol of travel in New York City but it’s also a historic landmark that gives way to the LIRR, subway line, and the Amtrak. There’s never a moment in time when Penn Station isn’t bustling with people and while it’s overwhelming for those who aren’t native to this city, it’s exciting in a sense, too.
One of the first scents that will greet a traveler walking into Penn Station from any number of its street-level entrances is the food. It can best be described as a mix of pizza grease, the aroma of fresh coffee, and the underlying hint of sugary pretzels in the distance. The sheer number of food stops found throughout Penn Station is quite staggering, but those new to the city should check these food stops off their lists, first.
The Iconic Penn Station Foods
When it comes to the most iconic foods at Penn Station, three things must be on the list: pizza, bagels, and some kind of sweet treat. Luckily, Penn Station has all three of these covered with some food stops that are practically a historic landmark in the station.
Rose’s Pizza & Pasta
The best pizza in Penn Station has been consistently voted as Rose’s and, luckily, there are two separate restaurants in the station. This is great news considering the sheer popularity of the joint, and first-timers should consider one of two options: a plain slice, or a Margherita slice. Of course, it’s easy to be swayed by the lineup of options that greets customers when they walk into the restaurant, but these two flavors are classic New York City.
- Where: Middle of the LIRR level floor
There is an infinite number of bagel shops throughout New York City and the entirety of New York State, as a whole. At Penn Station, Ess-a-Bagel has had a long-standing reputation since 1976. The Austrian-based bagel chain offers 13 different types of bagels along with classic toppings such as flavored cream cheese and lox, with a choice of more than dozens of types of spreads. The bagels are also oversized, so be sure to arrive here early and hungry.
- Where: While it’s not technically in the station, it is right down the street (108 W 32nd St.) – so it’s worth stopping by on the way in or out of Penn since it’s considered an iconic station spot.
That’s right – the history of this bakery extends outside of Sex in the City and also has a small location right inside of Penn. While there will be many tempting bakery stops throughout the train station, there’s only one Magnolia Bakery, and it’s a must-stop for those with a sweet tooth. There’s nothing like picking up a lemon bar or banana pudding for the train ride back, and it’s well worth the line.
- Where: Currently closed, but found on the lower concourse (LIRR level)
Relax & Grab A Bite
Just because Penn Station has a reputation for being a fast-paced port of transportation doesn’t mean it’s not home to restaurants that offer sit-down service.
The newest addition to Penn Station is The Pennsy, which is a full food court offering high-end, plant-based, and gluten-free options for travelers. It’s home to a cocktail bar in addition to five upscale dining establishments, making it a pretty hot commodity for those passing through Penn with some time to spare.
Even those passing through without an appetite will be impressed with the coffee bar by La Colombe, serving up some of the best coffee in the station at the food court. Those looking for an after-work drink will also be pleased to find their way to the beer garden and will be thoroughly convinced that this food court does, indeed, have everything a foodie needs.
- Where: Corner of 33rd and 7th (Penn Station & MSG)
Sometimes, time is of the essence (especially when catching a train). If a mad dash down to the platform is in the cards, then a quick bite to eat is the only thing travelers will likely have time for. In this case, there are a couple of options to tide one over until they can have a full meal.
Pret A Manger
Easily recognizable by the two glowing stars that flank its name, Pret A Manger cafes can be found throughout the city, especially in Midtown. However, in Penn Station, this sign is a glowing beacon for fast, good food. Whether it’s a sandwich, salad, soup, or baked goods, this London-based cafe has something for everyone who’s in a hurry.
- Where: Near the 7th Avenue entrance to Penn
Jamba Juice has a number of different options for those who are craving something healthy but don’t necessarily have time to eat an entire meal. The juice is legendary as is the steel-cut oatmeal, which is advertised prominently front in the center at most locations. At Penn, it’s a great stop to make for something that’s good for you, can be consumed fast, and held with one hand while jumping on the subway with the other.
- Where: At the Amtrak level
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