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early morning near penn station

  • w

I will be catching a northbound early morning Amtrak from NY Penn Station to Montreal and, though I love the scenery, I'm not too found of the onboard food on these trains without real dining cars, plus they alway seem to run out of the few choices I might purchase (I like the coffee but not the food). I'd like to bring my own food, but unfortunately the hotel where I'm staying has no fridge so I cannot buy it the night before (nor does it offer any breakfast that I can poach). Obviously I can bring fruit and pastry (which I can buy the night before), but I was wondering if anyone had a recommendation for a place right near Penn Station (I have no time to go far afield) open before 8AM where I can get something interesting for the train--or at least a tastier sandwich or even a fresher bagel and cream cheese. Thank you so much for your advice.

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  1. Where is your hotel located?

    1. The Tick Tock Diner is on the NW corner of 34th & 8th. They're open 24 hrs, and have take-out. When you've got your stuff, just walk down the other side of 8th to 33rd and take the escalator right down to the Amtrak area.

      Tick Tock Diner
      481 8th Ave, New York, NY 10001

      1. Hotel is right near Penn Station. The Tip Tock Diner is a great tip. Any others, especially small delis or a bakery that could be a little cheaper? Or someplace with a little more imaginative foodor tastier baked goods?--or am I dreaming when I think such places might be open so early?

        2 Replies
        1. re: Wanda

          Koreatown is only two blocks away, quite a few restaurants there are open around the clock, their menu can be quite inexpensive and "interesting", bordering mildly exotic. What kind of food do you like?

          1. re: Wanda

            The 'wichcraft kiosk at Broadway and 35th opens fairly early if you're near Koreatown:
            mon–fri 7am–7pm

            So is the Macaron Cafe:

            Macaron Cafe
            485 7th Ave, New York, NY 10018

            Broadway and 35th St, New York, NY 10018

          2. If you walk north on 7th Avenue from 34th St., within three blocks you will find a couple of delis (Al's, Alpine) and a few chains (Au Bon Pain, Bread Factory, Prete, Hale & Hearty Soups, Cosi) that all have breakfast stuff at a reasonable price.

            1. We recently stopped in the Tick Tock Diner for breakfast before catching a train. Both of us were pleasantly surprised at the service, prices, and the meals. It's a good place for eggs but I won't order that with ham the next time. The ham is a slab of that thick salty stuff that's not very good. Try a different meat, and also they have grits if you aren't a home fries person. The grits were good if not very hot.

              Tick Tock Diner
              481 8th Ave, New York, NY 10001

              1. I second (or third, or fourth) Tick Tock Diner as a great, reliable diner with broad range.

                And while I would never (never!) advocate train-station food, given that you're going to be up and out crack-o-dawn you could do reasonably well inside Penn Station itself. There's a Hot and Crusty next to an Au Bon Pain, down and around near the Long Island Railroad corridor. Both make decent sandwiches, and will provide breakfast too. There's a Zaro's near the main stairs up to Seventh Avenue, though I don't know if they make sandwiches.

                There are several places (one might be another Zaro's?) in the Amtrak area, so you wouldn't need to wander far at all.

                There's a Moe's Southwest Grill right off the Amtrak area, if you like that sort of thing. (I've been to another Moe's, which was good, but not the one in Penn Station. I'm not sure how well a burrito would travel for a long day.) There are many other "counter" sorts of places through the whole Station.

                There are also the usual fast-food joints (McDonald's, etc.), though I may be tossed off CH just for mentioning the option.

                In short -- if you don't feel like exploring the streets at that early hour, you should be OK staying within Penn Station.

                Have a safe trip!

                Tick Tock Diner
                481 8th Ave, New York, NY 10001

                1. Wanda, did you find a good place in the end? I'm doing the same trip in a couple of weeks, and want to stock up on some good sandwiches or bagels for the trip.
                  I'll be walking from the Madison/30th area, with luggage.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Parkin

                    Parkin, as it turned out, we did not have to go to Montreal directly from NYC. Instead we boarded the train further north at a somewhat later hour and so were able to get great sandwiches. We also brought cookies and fruit and bought coffee and water on the train--everything worked out fine. The ride was quite scenic (and the food in Montreal great too).

                    1. re: Wanda

                      Thanks. I'm glad it worked out well for you. I must scoot over to the Montreal discussions to see what's happening there. In the meantime, given that I'm arriving late in NYC the night before, I'm not going to have time to aim for anything out of the ordinary. The Times Square Deli (not at Times Square, the one at 168 Madison Ave between 32nd St & 33rd St) is on my way to Penn and seems to fit what I need, so I'll probably grab some sandwiches there.

                      Times Square Deli
                      168 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10016

                  2. As an update to this thread, I travelled a couple of days ago and stocked up with filled bagels, a cheese and tomato focaccia, and a three-berry muffin from Zaro's, in Penn Station and at the same level as Amtrak. All were excellent. I "declared" the last bagel to Canadian customs who waved it through :)
                    The food on the train looked perfectly edible. I only bought a fruit cup, but it was fresh and good quality.


                    438 8th Ave, New York, NY 10001