Nothing works up an appetite like traveling or long commutes, and Grand Central Terminal's cornucopia of quick-service eateries means you're never at a loss for choice. But where should you go for an actually good cup of coffee or a lunch more satisfying than a limp $12 sandwich? Your best bets may be found in restaurants and cafes right outside, but here are our picks for a good bite that'll leave you time to make that tight connecting train.
Breakfast and Coffee
Irving Farm Coffee Roasters: This Hudson Valley-based coffee roaster opened its Grand Central Station location last May, offering rich, earthy coffee, a full espresso menu, single-origin options, and tasty house-made croissants. The circular bar offers extended seating options for a morning sit-down.
Joe the Art of Coffee: With eight other locations throughout the city, Joe is a New York standard with well-trained baristas and its own line of beans.
Financier Patisserie: Good coffee plus nice pastries, such as their namesake cakey financiers, nutty macarons, and savory spinach wheels.
Grand Central Market
Grand Central's most concentrated hallway of deliciousness isn't the basement dining concourse—it's the street-level Grand Central Market. While it's mostly geared toward raw or reheatable foods (an uncooked ribeye isn't much of a snack), it's easy to make a picnic-style meal for yourself with some bread, cheese, chocolate, and the like.
Eli's Bread and Pastry: A condensed version of the full Zabar's selection. Sourdough is the specialty, but whole grain, European-style, and organic breads are also available, as are savory crackers in flavors like olive rosemary, parmesan and sesame.
Murray's Cheese: Once you've got your bread, head a couple counters down for some of the city's best cheese at Murray's, where the knowledgeable staff will find the gouda just right for you. They also have some small bites like jerky for eating on the go.
Li-Lac Chocolates: The only component missing from your dinner trifecta is dessert. Li-Lac Chocolates offers old-world chocolates and confections such as fudge, chocolate-covered jellies, toffee, and truffles.
Taking It To-Go
Frankies Dogs On The Go: Simplicity can be a beautiful thing, so don't dismiss the humble hotdog. Frankies offers solid snacking, reasonable prices, and New York tradition all in the confines of a bun. The "New Yorker" is a winner with spicy brown mustard, sauerkraut, and caramelized onions. It's also conveniently located next to the Beer Table shop.
Dishes To Go: The Grand Central take-home version of the popular midtown lunch spot offers fresher alternatives to other prepared food stands. Sandwiches are reheated on a sandwich press but juices get pressed fresh.
Eata Pita: Here's a wildcard. Going in with zero expectations, we were pleasantly surprised by the tasty falafel, gyro, and shawarma. A combo platter comes with six falafel, hummus, a shredded salad and pita bread. The hummus is well seasoned, the falafel is moist and flavorful with a crisp exterior, and service is quick and easy.
Just Missed the Train?
Shake Shack: Sorry about your train, but on the bright side, now you have time for New York's fast food all-star. You don't need a table to enjoy this excellent burger with fresh-cut fries, but it helps, and gives you a place to put your beer or milkshake as well.
Grand Central Oyster Bar: Grand Central's upscale seafood bar and a New York icon, one of the city's finer places to have a cocktail and shoot back an oyster.
Magnolia Bakery: Skip the cupcakes, which we don't love and grab some pudding instead. Magnolia's banana pudding layers vanilla wafers, fresh bananas, and creamy pudding for one of the best examples of the dessert we've had.
Have a Grand Central favorite we didn't cover? Let us know in the comments. Also check out our guide to eating out nearby.