The Pennsy Brings Excellent Eats To Penn Station
The worst part about Penn Station is Penn Station. Seriously, I reversed-commuted for a year on the LIRR, and it almost finished me. The second worse thing? Terrible food options in the immediate area, whether grabbing a bite before a game or concert at Madison Square Garden, or heading out to Long Island or New Jersey. Or maybe you work right nearby? Because unlike Grand Central, which has majorly improved its dining game over the past decade or so (from the total renovation of the lower level to the Shake Shack's arrival in 2013 to the recently-opened UrbanSpace Vanderbilt right across the street), dreary old Penn hasn't seen anything exciting come it's way in a long, long time. Until now. Until The Pennsy.
The Pennsy Food Court Arrives In Penn Station
The Pennsy is the latest in the apparently unstoppable NYC trend of high-end "food courts", in which you'll find excellent chefs and brand-name high-end restaurants and food vendors running booths with short, appealing menus, everything usually priced in the single digits or low teens. Seating is at tables scattered throughout the hall, generally four-tops and larger communal numbers. You order from the kiosk of your choice and find a seat (or high stool) somewhere, the whole system designed for a comfortable, efficiently quick lunch, dinner, or snack. The setup is also ideal for grazers, or if you and your crew feel like eating in what are essentially completely different restaurants. The Vanderbilt market mentioned above, City Kitchen in Times Square, Hudson Eats in Battery Park City, and, of course, Smorgasburg, the one that started it all and still going strong in various Brooklyn locations… they're all always crowded and lively, making people happy with first-rate food served in a congenial setting.
The Premiere Culinary Destination By Penn Station
It's easy to see, then, why people (including me) are so excited about The Pennsy. The line-up here is phenomenal, including the amazing Cinnamon Snail, still putting out some of the best vegan food in NYC; star butcher Pat LaFrieda grilling up lots of meaty delights; Mario Batali teaming up with Mary Guiliani for a soup-and-sandwich shop; Franklin Becker's veggie-centric Little Beet booth; and Marc Forgione bringing lots of crustacean love with Lobster Press, spinning off on his hugely popular Chili Lobster dish at his Tribeca flagship American Cut. A full bar is coming as soon as they can nail down the liquor license.
What To Eat At Penn Station's Upscale Food Court
I sampled as much as could on a recent visit during The Pennsy's opening week, and I suggest you do the same, because there's little doubt that pretty much every dish at all five booths is really good. I started with the Pat LaFrieda's Original Black Angus Steak Sandwich, with it's big chunks of impossibly tender beef smothered in melted Monterey Jack, grilled onions, served au jus, on a garlicky ciabatta. A fantastic sandwich. Next up was the Il Diavolo e L'Angelo at Mario by Mary, a mortadella, gorgonzola, and lardo concoction which looked disappointingly thin upon arrival but packed a huge rich-and-gamey punch. Dessert was via Cinnamon Snail of course, who offer up at least dozen different doughnut varieties (I had the S'mores and the Raspberry Cheesecake, bot of which ruled), assorted other pastries, plus a whole roster of savory salads and sandwiches,. I've never eaten anything that wasn't terrific from these guys, so order with confidence whatever your mood.
More Information About The Pennsy
The Pennsy is located at 2 Pennsylvania Plaza, near the corner of 33rd Street and Seventh Avenue (note: the entrance is from the sidewalk, not from within Penn Station itself), and is open Monday through Saturday from 1:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., and on Sunday until 8:00 p.m.