“Steve says it’s the best here…so let’s eat healthy today,” one of the transit officers patrolling New York’s Moynihan Train Hall told fellow officers. Given the range of food choices now evident in the airy station in the old post office, it looked like they would approach NAYA for its delicious, fresh Lebanese specialties brimming with vegetables, grains and well-prepared proteins such as chicken shawarma and lamb kafta. with hummus, tabbouleh, baba ghanouj. But they went next door to Jacob’s Pickles for smothered chicken with sausage sauce. Delicious for sure but clearly healthy has a different meaning for their friend Steve.
When Moynihan Train Hall opened on January 1, 2021, it was a clear plus for train travelers to and from New York City, a world away from the dark, cramped dungeon that makes up Penn Station’s main part of the other side of the street. But if you wanted to eat something before or take the train, Penn Station always had the edge. That has all changed now with the advent of filter food outlets in Moynihan Food Hall this year, giving travelers a range of options. With reps from well-known restaurants and flavors of the city, it’s also giving them a taste of New York and since New York showcases global cuisines, a taste of the world. Officers’ choice, Jacob’s Pickles, which opened on the city’s Upper West Side in 2011 and celebrates Southern home cooking, like macaroni and cheese, fried chicken and pickles (including ice cream pickle vegan), moved in a few weeks ago as the most recent additions and more are on the boards for the next few months.
Among the current list, it’s hard to be more of a city hallmark than bagels, which New Yorkers are rightly hesitant to eat anywhere else. And while even in New York locals will argue over who makes the best, the most famous name is H&H Bagels which started baking in 1972. The outlet here can offer a choice of traditional bagel flavors topped classic cream cheese, plain or flavored, with Nova, added capers and onions, or for lunch with turkey, tuna or chicken salad, turkey and ham club, or even peanut butter and The jelly. And you can pick up a bag of bagels to take home.
Burgers are everywhere, but Burger Joint, which was originally a hole in the wall of the former Parker Meridien, now the Thompson Hotel tucked away behind a curtain and marked only by a neon image of a burger, had a very basic burger menu but was so good that residents have been queuing since the day it opened. They always line up for burgers and cheeseburgers – fresh, flame-grilled angus beef – but here too Beyond burgers and breakfast burritos.
EAK Ramen started in Japan, a proponent of Iekei ramen that mixes pork and chicken broth, Kyushu and Tokyo styles, is immensely popular in Asia with 500 outlets in multiple countries. Since arriving in New York in 2017, featuring the broth that takes 18 hours to cook and their own secret style of noodles, it has become popular here, sprouting up in multiple locations across the United States. The Moynihan branch opened in September.
Alidoro opened in New York’s Soho in 1986 and offers the best Italian sandwich. The store menu now includes 40 different types with all daily fresh ingredients. Among the choices at Moynihan, an Italian cheesesteak composed of braised roast beef with rosemary, sautéed mushrooms, provolone, truffle cream and black garlic mustard and the Fratelli composed of porchetta, basil pesto, fresh mozzarella, hot spread, sweet peppers roasts and arugula. Diners can also create their own sandwiches and salads.
Branches of other now-familiar names are also part of the mix, such as Magnolia Bakery, which offers its famous cupcakes and banana pudding in take-out packages that can be ordered in advance (ensuring that there is no queuing around the block, as still happens in its original location in Greenwich Village); the Maman bakery café, supplier of delicious salads, sandwiches and pastries including an irresistible chocolate chip cookie; Sauce Pizzeria, serving its thin crust pizza with sauces like on the Lower East Side. Some obvious choices seem to be missing though, such as sushi, Mexican food, and kosher deli meats, but that’s being fixed. La Esquina, Yo Yo Sushi from Bond St and Pastrami Queen are on the way.