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Dining near Penn Station and Madison Square Garden


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The answer to this question will be useful - I've found myself wandering around that area, with an hour to kill before my train leaves, looking for a decent place - and there isn't much (and the city blocks are l-o-n-g there).

(Off-topic, but does anyone remember the name of the kaiten sushi place that used to be in Penn Station in the mid-1980s?)

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Okay thanks for the help don! 😋  I'm currently sitting in Niles in the Affinia hotel [Sold and rebranded as The Stewart Hotel in Dec, 2016] and it's fine...but heaven forbid I miss out on something else! I'll keep y'all posted...as I get more...well you know.

Thanks to Scooter for the suggestion of Casellula, but there is a closer wine bar the concierge recommended, Ayza. Wine flight...carmen reserva merlot, shooting star syrah and heller estate cab...menu opens at 5, looks like some great cheeses and technically this is a wine and "jacques torres" wine bar". It's tiny inside, with patio...tons of staff here already, maybe it gets busy...

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We were in Penn Station last week and had some very good sandwiches from a deli next to the Acela waiting area. This is NOT the one with the pre-made stuff. It is the one where everyone in line seems to know exactly what they want and what is available, even though it is unclear to the non-New Yorker such as myself. So in addition to a good sandwich, the guy behind the counter was also very polite to a clueless patron.

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I have had some surprisingly good food at Tír Na Nóg. If you can get past the fact that it is an Irish pub, I think it would do the trick. It is a bit more upscale than the typical Irish pub. The bar menu is OK, but you will find more interesting fare on the lunch and dinner menus so you may want to ask for those even if you are sitting at the bar. If there is an event at the Garden when you are there, it will get crowded.

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I've never been to the Garden, and will be there for a concert over Columbus Day weekend. So, 9 years later, what has changed? I noticed on the MSG website that there are some very interesting vendors inside, such as Hill Country, Drew Nieporent, Jean George, etc. We just want a good bite, not exorbitant cost, and alcohol is not a consideration. (Unless there is a good cidery nearby!)  I do realize the vendors inside will be a rip-off, however convenient, and possibly tasty. I found a possible place for some good fish tacos at Tacombi nearby, and am considering that. Also trying to keep in mind that I'm saving up my big meal for Le Bernadin on Monday. We'll be going out with friends Friday night with a place yet to be determined, so smaller meals are preferred :)

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The Triple Crown Irish Pub on 7th between 28th and 29th is fine.  Haven’t tried many dishes but it is hard to screw up a shepherd’s pie and they don’t.  Lot of beer choices, lot of tv’s following sports:   Good accessible bathrooms

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On 12/11/2018 at 2:12 PM, DaveO said:

The Triple Crown Irish Pub on 7th between 28th and 29th is fine.  Haven’t tried many dishes but it is hard to screw up a shepherd’s pie and they don’t.  Lot of beer choices, lot of tv’s following sports:   Good accessible bathrooms

I’ve continued to travel there, mostly by bus, a bit by train.  The other day I had scheduled the last bus back, not knowing how long my chores would take, couldn’t reschedule and killed several hours here again on a cold and damp day.

This is adequate, pleasant, with adequate or slightly above scale Irish and bar food.  I  expect to be in the area more often but this could be my last visit, only in that it is adequate.  

The shepherd’s pie (again) had an unusual abundance of mashed potatoes.  The interior was of good quality.   Combined with 2 Irish coffee drinks and a whiskey it kept me occupied while some poor defender and goalie miscommunicated on a pass back.  That ball passed the goalie and scored a goal against.  The guy next to me at the bar with a heavy Irish accent was in despair.  

With all that booze inside of me I didn’t know who was playing whom.

On to better alternatives.

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I travel every month or so to NY for work by train and here are my suggestions near Penn Station:

1. Pennsy Food Hall http://www.thepennsy.nyc/ located in the ground floor of MSG. It has lots of variety and most are a slight cut above the stuff in Penn Station. Good vegetarian fare at the Cinnamon Snail, bar with drinks, and sandwiches from Pat LaFrieda, etc. 

2. NY Pizza Suprema a few blocks south is good for a big selection of NY style by the slice pizza. If you are in a time crunch though, the Pizza stand behind the train waiting area in the Penn Station concourse isn't half bad but smaller number of topping options.

3. Zaro's black and white cookies in the Penn Station train concourse are perfect. The other baked goods are ok (I thought the chocolate rugelach was only so so.) 

4. There is also a Shake Shack in the main Penn Station long hall between the subways and LIRR/Amtrack trains. 

Unfortunately, except all of the above and many other mediocre food options close by, I haven't found anything really good that is actually walking distance from Penn Station (meaning not requiring a special trip).

Also, I can't vouch for it because I've never been but there was supposed to be a really good doughnut shop within a block or so. Google it and it may come up. Something about originally being a car wash or similar business. Not sure if it is still open.  Cinnamon Snail in the Pennsy Food Hall also has doughnuts. 

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2 hours ago, KeithA said:

Unfortunately, except all of the above and many other mediocre food options close by, I haven't found anything really good that is actually walking distance from Penn Station (meaning not requiring a special trip).

Also, I can't vouch for it because I've never been but there was supposed to be a really good doughnut shop within a block or so. Google it and it may come up. Something about originally being a car wash or similar business. Not sure if it is still open.  Cinnamon Snail in the Pennsy Food Hall also has doughnuts. 

I think that outpost of Underwest Donuts closed a while ago - it was on the left before you entered Penn Station from 7th Ave. The original shop may still be open, up near the Intrepid. The donuts at the booth were just ok (not a connoisseur) - I'm more of a Doughnut Plant person.

Some or none of these may fit your definition of walking distance: Keens (oh, SteveR already mentioned), Wolfgang's (NYTimes location), Ushiwakamaru (solid mid-tier sushi, Harbs bakery around the corner), Nomad or Nomad Bar; up by Bryant Park, Gabriel Kreuther (plus its chocolate/pastry shop next door), Sushi Ginza Onodera (lunch is almost reasonably priced).

Have not been, but recommended by friends: Noda (Ginza Iwa alum), Odo (former Kajitsu chef, now with meat!)

If it's very late/early there's always Koreatown.

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To think I used to live at 31st and 7th. Ugh, talk about a restaurant wasteland - on my way to Penn Station in the 1980s, there was a little Kaiten Sushi place inside the Station; short of that, your best option was on 31st St. - namely, the awful Godfather's Pizza.

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2 hours ago, guanabana said:

I think that outpost of Underwest Donuts closed a while ago - it was on the left before you entered Penn Station from 7th Ave. The original shop may still be open, up near the Intrepid. The donuts at the booth were just ok (not a connoisseur) - I'm more of a Doughnut Plant person.

Some or none of these may fit your definition of walking distance: Keens (oh, SteveR already mentioned), Wolfgang's (NYTimes location), Ushiwakamaru (solid mid-tier sushi, Harbs bakery around the corner), Nomad or Nomad Bar; up by Bryant Park, Gabriel Kreuther (plus its chocolate/pastry shop next door), Sushi Ginza Onodera (lunch is almost reasonably priced).

Have not been, but recommended by friends: Noda (Ginza Iwa alum), Odo (former Kajitsu chef, now with meat!)

If it's very late/early there's always Koreatown.

Thanks for these but I'm thinking of places within 1-3 blocks of Penn Station. I don't know about others, but I usually am busy till close to when I leave NYC. So I rush to the area of Penn Station and look for a quick bite before my train or to take with me on the train. I welcome any other suggestions. If I had time to kill in NYC, then I would simply go to one of the many good places farther from the train station. 

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If you can stretch to four blocks, Go Go Curry is at 38th and 8th.  Good Japanese curry in a fast-food-ish environ.  That area really is a wasteland for food.  Other than that, I'd second the Shake Shack and respectfully disagree on the black and whites at Zaro.

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18 hours ago, zgast said:

If you can stretch to four blocks, Go Go Curry is at 38th and 8th.  Good Japanese curry in a fast-food-ish environ.  That area really is a wasteland for food.  Other than that, I'd second the Shake Shack and respectfully disagree on the black and whites at Zaro.

Thanks for the Go Go Curry rec. How do you like your black and whites? 

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On 3/6/2019 at 8:36 PM, zgast said:

Less cake-y. I’m not sure how else to describe it. The ratio of cookie to icing is too high. 

I gotcha. I like them cakey with a good amount but not too much frosting and the frosting shouldn't be solely hardened fondant - which is why Zaro's hit my sweet spot, pun intended. Apparently, they are supposed to originally have been more cake like then cookie and generally are made that way. Here is a interesting article on their history and a survey of various examples: https://ny.eater.com/2014/6/2/6214949/the-black-and-white-cookies-curious-history

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On 3/7/2019 at 10:00 PM, Tweaked said:

At W 39th and 8th Ave is the newish Upside Pizza.  Basically the same area as Go Go Curry.

Tried Upside Pizza on my way to Penn Station last Friday - I wasn't that impressed. While they are clearly putting a lot of time and energy into their crust and pie, the flavor difference wasn't there - at least not on my white mushroom slice ("Falcowitz"). It was good pizza but I didn't think it was appreciably better than most other by the slice places in the city. As I continued down 8th avenue, I saw a few $1 slice places and almost went to one for a comparison but didn't feel like another slice.  I did still feel hungry when I got to Pennsy foodhall next to Penn Station. I went to the Pat LaFrieda stand and waited longer than usual but really enjoy on the train my "World's Greatest Hot Dog" - nice bun, sausage snap, good flavor, with a bit of mustard and hot pepper slices. Not bad for $5 before tax and probably worth the extra money over the cheaper dogs on the street or Papaya King.  

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