Grab and go at Penn Station
The A train that dropped you at 34th Street just pulled out, so what's all that loud rumbling? Oops -- your stomach. Feed it with these picks from Penn Station.
European Cafe (Lower Level, Connecting Corridor, across from Bank of America, east of A-C-E subway): It doesn't get more classically New York than bagels and lox. At this deli with a few booths in the back, you can order smoked salmon and cream cheese on the crusty bagel of your choice ($8.50). Pumpernickel works particularly well. (Oct. 11, 2012)
Island Dine (Location Lower Level, Connecting Corridor, across from LIRR ticket windows, just west of 1-2-3 subway entrance): This Jamaican takeout counter offers a few wonderful -- but messy-to-eat -- specialties. So, instead of oxtail stew, opt for one of the best handheld bites in the station -- the chicken patty, a flaky pastry square filled with a fragrant curried chicken mixture. Also available with beef or vegetables ($2 each). (Oct. 10, 2012)
Nathan's Famous (Lower Level, Connecting Corridor, west of 1-2-3 subway, near main gate area): Sometimes, the tried and true works best. These faithful hotdogs ($2.99) always come across with salty, garlicky "snap." Squiggled with mustard, piled with sauerkraut and relish, they deliver a high satisfaction quotient. (Oct. 11, 2012)
Le Bon Cafe (Lower Level, Connecting Corridor, directly across from Central Corridor): It's some super sub, the spicy jerk turkey sandwich on 7-grain baguette ($5.99). Find it in the refrigerator case or, if there's time, have one made to order. The sandwich packs a fiery wallop, thanks to peppery jerk-spiced turkey, chipotle-spiked Jack cheese and ranch dressing. (Oct. 10, 2012)
Le Bon Cafe: The long line you usually find at the build-your-own tossed salads counter is understandable: Everything is fresh, made to order and packaged to travel. Choose from a wide array of add-ins, four to an order, everything from cooked salmon to black olives to roasted broccoli and a great guacamole, which can double as dressing ($6.99-$7.99). (Oct. 11, 2012)
Charley's Grilled Subs (Lower Level, Connecting Corridor, east of A-C-E subway, west of Central Corridor): Smell the onions sizzling on the grill at this sub specialist. The hefty, hearty and meltingly good Philly cheesesteak -- thinly sliced beef, grilled onions, provolone, lettuce, tomato and mayo -- is big on comfort ($4.99). You might want to get yours onion-free if you're planning to eat it on the train ride home. (Oct. 11, 2012)
Chickpea (Lower Level, near A-C-E subway entrance): Seek out the shawarma stuffed pita ($7.95) at this multipurpose spot. You'll find it with a host of Middle Eastern specialties at the counter on the far right. Eminently portable, this wrap or stuffed pita sandwich features slices of tender spiced chicken piled with such options as tabbouleh, chickpeas, mixed greens and Israeli salad. You'll find grilled kebabs here as well. (Oct. 11, 2012)
Chickpea: After that shawarma, try a frozen yogurt topped with fresh fruit. (Oct. 11, 2012)
Chop 'N Toss (Upper Level, off street escalator from Seventh Avenue): This deli turns out a hot pastrami sandwich that's properly peppery, just fatty enough ($10.95). Have it with nothing more than brown mustard or kick it up with sauerkraut and Swiss, maybe Russian dressing. The seed-flecked bread is toasted, the better to stand up to whatever journey it will take.