Photographer: Sean Batten/Getty Images
Travel

Restaurants and Bars Near Penn Station You’ll Actually Want to Visit

Just say no to Sbarro.

From the October 2015 edition of Reserve, a Bloomberg Brief publication.

It's one of the hardest questions for a food critic to answer: "Where do I find a decent place to eat around Penn Station/Madison Square Garden?" Between the bright lights, stalled traffic, clamoring tourists and dense skyscrapers, New York's transportation and commercial hub isn't pretty, and accessible, edible options near there are few. If you're prepared to experiment in Koreatown, or walk far enough, options do exist. Otherwise be prepared to make serious culinary compromises.

The good news is that the development of Hudson Yards, the biggest private real estate development in U.S. history, is already making a profound change, pulling new restaurants, millennials and businesses west and transforming the artery into something I like to call "Greater Penn Station." The High Line, the raised walkway that's transformed Chelsea, now wraps around the construction site, to the Hudson River and all the way to the Javits Center. The extension of the 7 train to New York's first all new subway station in 25 years allows access to this new frontier.

For now, you'll still need to do a bit of walking as west side blocks are almost twice as wide as east side blocks, and those blocks seem to get longer the colder the weather gets. Take comfort in knowing that in a few years, it will be an entirely new culinary destination and those who have moved there now will be laughing all the way to the bank. 

Some say Keens Steakhouse is the only choice in the area.
Some say Keens Steakhouse is the only choice in the area.
Source: Keens Steakhouse

Go With Clients

DRINKS ... 

Winnie's: At the Refinery Hotel, it's a sophisticated place for a discreet martini. The rooftop bar is more of a an intense party scene. 

American Whiskey: Gritty locale but an excellent selection of whiskies.      

 Any Irish Bar: Penn Station abounds with old Irish bars. They're all about the same. Tracks in the station is pretty good. Stout is among the best.

DINNER ...

Pennsylvania 6: Not haute cuisine but gets the job done. Works as both a bar and restaurant. Perfect for client meetings or for folks who need to catch a train (or a game.)

Keens: Some say it's the only choice in the area. Some argue it's still the best steakhouse in NYC. Tables are hard to get on game or performance nights. Go at lunch and get "known."

 

Lupulo's large central bar.
Lupulo's large central bar.
Photographer: Evan Sung/Bloomberg
Porchlight's Whiskey and Cola.

Porchlight's Whiskey and Cola.

Photographer: Evan Sung/Bloomberg

Go With Friends

DRINKS ... 

 

Porchlight: Danny Meyer already has a bulwark on 11th Ave. Excellent drinks (like this whiskey cocktail) and nibbles with a Southern bent. 

DINNER ...

Kirakuya: Head up a flight of stairs to find one of New York's best value Japanese ramen/hot pot/sushi spots.      

Lupulo: Fun, casual, excellent Portuguese with a large central bar.

Brooklyn FareThis market's Manhattan outpost is already serving the pioneers living in the area. The restaurant, hidden in the back to the right, promises to open soon.

The Breslin/John DoryApril Bloomfield and Ken Friedman's rocking bistro and raw bar twins.

LATE NIGHT ... 

VuA New York secret atop the La Quinta hotel. Unpretentious, good prices and a sensational view.

 

The John Dory Oyster Bar at the Ace Hotel.
The John Dory Oyster Bar at the Ace Hotel.
Photographer: Wally Gobetz/Flickr

Go With Family

PRE-GAME/PRE-SHOW ...

Lucy's Cantina Royale: In a fun looking shack in Penn Plaza, Lucy's scores with decent Mexican food, location, friendly staff, and good margaritas.

Lugo: Opposite the station, this is a perfectly serviceable Italian option.

Nick & Stef's: It's literally right under MSG, so it's hard to beat the location. Part of Nick Valenti and Joachim Splichal's Patina Group, the food is surprisingly edible. Book early.

DINNER ... 

L'Amico: Laurent Tourondel's new Italian pizza spot appeals to the young folk pouring into the neighborhood and their parents who are probably subsidizing them.

Parker & QuinnAmerican bistro fare, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. Great for groups, visiting family and parents.

Peter Elliot is editor of Bloomberg Brief: Reserve and manages the lifestyle functions on the Bloomberg Professional service. He is Bloomberg's founding food critic and a James Beard Award winner. Follow him on Twitter or Instagram @mrpeterelliot.

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