For most commuters, Penn Station is the beginning of a journey, not a destination. But while the subterranean Long Island Rail Road concourse offers scant reasons to linger, Penn Station and its immediate environs do boast a handful of notable eateries. Once aboard an LIRR train, however, great dining options draw steadily nearer. Here's a guide to good bets in the area.
1 Penn Plaza, Manhattan, 212-760-2700, lugocaffe.com.
Cuisine: Italian. With its tiled floors, wooden accents and orderly displays of imported tomatoes, coffee and soda, Lugo looks like an extremely upscale and commodious Italian grocery store. Stop by for a glass of wine and a platter of mortadella and sopressata, or a pizza, or have a full-fledged meal. Salads, pastas and main courses are gutsy and appealing. Moderate to expensive.
CARIBBEAN KITCHEN/TASTE OF INDIA
1 Penn Plaza, Manhattan, 212-290-2864.
Cuisine: In the little alleyway opposite Kmart, these two restaurants share quarters. On the Caribbean front: specialties such as jerk chicken, curried goat, callaloo with salt fish, oxtail with beans plus meat (and vegetable) patties and roti. From the Subcontinent: steam-table classics such as lamb vindaloo, chicken tikka masala, chana masala, vegetable korma. Combo meals come with rice, dal and fresh naan. Inexpensive.
1 Penn Plaza, Manhattan, 212-629-7070, localcafenyc.com.
Cuisine: bar. Multilevel bar offering cocktails and American grill fare -- skins, wings, burgers, salads, etc. Moderate to expensive.
TIR NA NOG
5 Penn Plaza, Manhattan, 212-630-0249, tirnanognyc.com.
Cuisine: Irish. For beer and a burger, you could hardly do better than at Tir Na Nog, an unusually friendly and attractive Irish bar and grill. Salads, soups and entrees are good, as well. ("Tir na Nog" refers to the legendary Irish land of eternal youth.) Moderate to expensive.
NICK & STEF'S STEAKHOUSE
9 Penn Plaza, Manhattan, 212-563-4444, nickandstefs.com.
Cuisine: Steak. Enjoy dry-aged prime beef, simply prepared seafood and other steakhouse standards in this well-appointed dining room. Good wine list, too. Moderate to very expensive.