Walking Guide

Food on the Run: Penn Station

By , SparkPeople Blogger
A fresh-grilled sub sandwich made your way is the basis of this upscale, quick-casual restaurant chain. There are currently 173 Penn Station Restaurants in 12 U.S. states.

Hand-cut French fries (with vinegar!), fresh-squeezed lemonade, and the trademark Philadelphia Cheesesteak sub on signature fresh-baked French bread are several customer favorites. This past baseball season several of these favorites debuted at Cincinnati's Great American Ball Park. How many calories would that great Philly Cheesesteak contain?

It depends on what ingredients you chose to include. If you go with a standard small signature sandwich of 100% U.S.D.A. Choice steak, provolone cheese, sautéed onions, fresh mushrooms, banana peppers, spicy-brown mustard, mayo and pizza sauce you find that while each ingredient doesn't look too bad, collectively it is more than recommended. Here is the breakdown –

Bread - 273 calories, 1.66 grams fat, 692.25 mg sodium

Steak (3 oz) – 114 calories, 6 grams fat, 48 mg sodium

Provolone cheese – 100 calories, 8 grams fat, 60 mg sodium

Sautéed onions – 21 calories, 0 grams fat, 0 grams sodium

Mushrooms – 3 calories, .04 grams fat, .3 mg sodium

Banana peppers – 1.25 calories, 0 grams, 120 mg sodium

Spicy –brown mustard – 66 calories, 6.14 grams fat, 85 mg sodium

Mayo – 101 calories, 11.26 grams fat, 81 mg sodium

Pizza Sauce – 18 calories, .24 grams fat, 80 mg sodium

Totals – 697 calories, 33 grams fat, 1166 mg sodium

I hope that you see several things that could easily be removed from the sandwich to make it a little better. Leaving off the mayo alone would lower the totals to 530 calories, 16 grams fat, 1000 mg sodium. Only slightly better but every little bit throughout the day adds up. Another option at Penn Station is to get the same ingredients in a 10" wrap instead of bread. It should be noted that this choice will lower your calorie intake by 67 calories, but will increase your fat intake by 4 grams and your sodium intake by 94 mg. When making choices related to carbohydrate content, be sure to look at the entire nutrition profile to make an informed decision.

It is important to note that a medium sandwich increases not only the size but the nutritional contribution by 50% compared to the small. A large sandwich is twice the size and nutritional contribution as well. Therefore, if you decided to have a large signature sandwich with everything, you would consume a whopping 1,394 calories, 66 grams of fat and 2,332 mg sodium. For many of us, that is nearly our entire recommended daily intake from just one sandwich. Add a small order of flash-fried, fresh-cut fries and a glass of fresh-squeezed lemonade to complete your signature meal and you have certainly exceeded your daily nutritional recommendations.

There are some healthier choices you can make that will allow you to stay within a healthy recommended meal when dining at Penn Station. Here are several suggestions.

Small Grilled Artichoke Sandwich with artichoke hearts, provolone cheese, oregano, parmesan and mushrooms

Calories – 438

Fat – 2 grams

Sodium – 1291 (half from bread alone)

Small Dagwood Sandwich with turkey, lettuce, tomatoes, red onion, banana peppers, and oregano

Calories – 392

Fat – 4 grams

Sodium – 1492 mg (half from bread and banana peppers)

Small Chicken Breast Parmesan Sandwich with parmesan, oregano, sautéed onions, fresh mushrooms and pizza sauce

Calories – 497

Fat – 8 grams

Sodium – 949 mg (largely from bread)

Here are several other strategies that might also help you manage specific nutrient intake areas based on your specific needs.

  • Cheese can provide a good protein source and whether you select Swiss, Provolone or American you are adding 100 calories to your total. If you are trying to reduce your fat grams, select American cheese, which provides only 5 grams, compared to 8 grams for the other two. If you are looking to limit your sodium intake, as much as possible, select Swiss cheese, which is a low sodium choice with only 60 mg per ounce, compared to 200 mg for Provolone and 510 mg for American.
  • Some of the meat choices for your sandwich are better than others. Lowest calorie and fat choices would be steak, chicken, turkey, and ham. Salami, pepperoni, sausage, and corned beef provide higher calorie, fat and sodium choices that are best to avoid.
  • A great way to fill a sandwich is with veggies and there are many to choose from and even grilled they only provide a negligible amount of fat to the overall sandwich while offering great taste, crunch and nutrition.
  • Moisture from sauces is very tempting but can also provide unnecessary calories and fat very quickly to your sandwich. Instead of Mayonnaise (101 calories/11 gr fat), honey mustard (66 calories/6 g fat) or 1,000 Island Dressing (215 calories/20 gr fat) select pizza sauce (18 calories/0 gr fat) instead.
Where do sub shops fit on your list of preferred quick-casual restaurants?

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Great! Report
I never ban anything from my diet - I allow subway once every 4-6 weeks and ya, its a special treat - and I still order the 900 calorie sub... hey, I deserve it and I've been a maintainer for over a year now (108-112 pounds) Report
penn station is delicious. I only eat it about 1-2 times per year, so I don't really care if it is not that great for you. I get the philly and fries.

would be nice if it was a little healthier for the people that do eat there more often.

Personally, I really don't like eating white bread if I can avoid it. Whole wheat is healthier and I think it tastes better too. They could start with offering whole wheat hoagies or whole wheat flatbread/pitas. Report
I miss Penn Station! I would either get a philly cheesesteak with just meat, cheese, onions and a little ketchup or the artichoke sub without the mayo. If I wanted fries with it, my husband and I would spilt a small. Report
Subs do not fit in my diet, unless they are made from meat that I cooked fresh. I can not eat deli meats so I stay away from sub shops. Report
All of this is making me grateful for my Gluten and other intolerances - because this sort of eating simply isn't an option for me so I don't have to do all that counting - and hold this, hold that! Thank goodness I can eat salads and veg without all those hidden calories. And I enjoy them :)) Report
I have never heard of Penn Station sub stores. I do have subway and quiznos. Its been a long time since I had a sub. Too much bread. Report
I grew up in Delaware, went to school in Philly, and now live in the midwest. I will be going east in a few weeks and plan to eat both a philly cheesesteak and a sub...the real things. It will blow my calories and fat, but will only happen once. (And you can bet there will be no mayo on either one!) Report
definately makes u think twice! Report
No Penn Stations here in Massachusetts, but we have D'Angelos, which is pretty good. I eat their wraps; being post-op gastric bypass, I can't do a lot of bread. That's why it was great, when I was visiting in the Chicago area, to find a lettuce-wrap sub shop! I forget the name of it, but the deli meat, cheese, etc. was wrapped in a lettuce leaf, and WAS IT GOOD! Wish they had something like that around here...

Also, was watching The Biggest Loser last week. One of the girls went to a local sub shop and ordered a veggie sub on whole wheat bread, but she asked the sandwich-maker to scrape out as much of the inside of the bread as she could, and doubled up on the veggies. Sounds like a trick I might try sometime! Report
We don't have one anywhere near us....... Report
I enjoy subs, but I prefer the old Mom and Pops sub shops or a supermarket deli where they are freshly made. Mustard goes a long way in reducing calories and there are a good variety of them out there. I'm from NY and there was a sub place called Blimpies. They use to be good, but as with everything commercial it changed over time and they just don't offer the same quality sub. Report
I've never heard of Penn Station but I do enjoy Subway a lot. I like that there are more options to eat healthy. Report
i love subs SOOO much. i could eat them everyday. unfortunetly- i do not think of them as being unhealthy when they probably are.
to try to make them healthier i have done the following:
always eat them in 2 sittings, even if it's just a 6in and just 30min apart. it helps a lot!
try to go where they slice the meat fresh (like Jersey Mike's or Publix) so you aren't eating filler's or preservatives
always get wheat or multi-grain bread (duh)
avoid cheese if you don't mind
pass on the condiments and apply your own when you get home Report
Another option at Penn Station is to drop the bread and get a salad. You can make any sandwhich a salad there. With something like the Chicken Parmesan you can use the tomato sauce as your dressing. This may sound strange (you are likely to get wierd looks from the workers) but it works and is actually pretty good. Putting grilled onions and mushrooms on an artichoke salad also adds some moisture so you can skip or reduce the dressing. Report
We don't have a Penn Station in my area but I love Subway. On the rare occasions I eat out I love the roasted chicken breast on wheat with lots of veggies. My idea of a really good meal on the go. Report
I am not a lover of subs...too much bread for me. also i can only eat half of one. I rarely stop at fast food places Report
Well, they don't have that chain here in Texas, I don't think, but I prefer a Subway any day. I've tried Quizno's, Schlotzky's, and other mom and pop places. While they may be very good, I prefer Subway for their simple subs. I don't need anything fancy (mostly added sodium). And I don't like all those layers of meat. Give me a turkey breast slice and lots of veggies on toasted bread and I am happy. Report
Never heard of them. Report
While on vacation we had Subway a couple times, Veggies on whole wheat, no cheese, spicey mustard. It felt like a splurge without going totally overboard. I don't think we have Penn Station in Florida, but since I don't eat meat, I probably wouldn't try them anyway. Report
From one Moore to another, I will do that for you! Report
I love Penn Station... but I don't have any near me anymore either. My fav is their Italian sandwich but I only ate those on rare occasion. I usually ate the healthy chicken instead. For those of you near Penn Station- please eat one for me. Report
I just had subway today and got the delicious turkey breast. I'm not overly worried about my cal and fat intake but it's the sodium that kills me. it's impossible to eat out and have less than 1000mg of sodium. Report
Tried it once, and disliked it entirely. Never went back. Too much bread, not enough substance. Even subway, which no longer has wraps and has moved to thicker flat bread, still has too much bread. I pull off almost fifty percent of the bread while I am eating. I do think their veggie sandwich is great, if you have neough variety, and use a light dressing on it. very good and to be fair, it has been a good ten years since I tried Penn; perhaps things have changed since they first opened.
I'm not familiar with this franchise but being from the Philadelphia area I can tell you that a true Philly Cheesesteak is made on a bread that you cant gat anywhere but Philly. And when in Philly you order your cheesesteak "wit" or "wit out" and that refers to fried onions. You don't put all that other crap on a Philly Cheesesteak. Report
I love Subs. They are my #1 sandwiches. I visit Subway frequently. There is one that is only a few blocks away from my house. Report
I used to love sub shops, like Subway, Jimmy Johns, Blimpie's and Quiznos, but now, I can't stand them. Whenever you walk into a Subway, the bread smells terrible, because of the spices, and you smell like it for hours. It's a perma-scent that just makes me sick now. If I don't have a choice and do eat there, I will get the ham sub with cheese and lots of veggies. I don't even worry about dressings or mayo. Report
We make a great veggie Philly Cheese "Steak" sandwich at home.
We use Tofurky Deli slices for the steak, provolone or pepper jack,
on a fresh baguette from a local bakery. If you make it open face,
it is only 303 calories per serving and very yummy. Report
You lose me on anything with beef but subway is OK in a pinch if you go with turkey on multi with no cheese or mayo. I still find eating out quite a challenge so it's an occasional treat not a regular thing for me. Report
I don't think that Texas has Penn Station restaurants, but we do have lots of Mexican food restaurants with similar profiles on fat and calories. It seems there are some good options at Penn Station, which is nice for those who want less of a "big" meal! Report
I LOVE Penn Station...I don't eat it often because it's kind of pricey...now that I'm avoiding fries and soda, though, it would be much more affordable! It's also good to know that my favorite sandwich is one of the healthier options! I get the small artichoke without mushrooms - and vinegar & olive oil instead of the mayo. Yum! I wonder what the calories would be with those changes...I'll have to visit the website! Report
When I lived in Ohio, Penn Station was a nice treat. Man, oh man was this article a wake up call to what I used to eat.
I don't eat subs all that often because the bread tends to be too much of the focus of the meal. There is a local cafe here in my town that serves subs and I've had their meatball sub. I can eat it with a knife and fork and eat just one serving's worth of the bread. That and salad is a reasonable meal. I tend to keep most of my sandwich eating to homemade ones now.
I live acrosss the street from a Subway 1/2 block from Mcdonalds,1/2 block from Burger King Less the a block from Round Table, less then a block from 3 more fast food places and 2 Mexican places and a Chinsese Place can anyone say WILLPOWER. Report
being from philly, i love a good cheesesteak and hoagie, despite how unhealthy they are! I usually get one of each (at different meals, of course) when i'm home for a visit, and since that only happens once or twice a year, i think it's okay to splurge! Report
Commonly people do not know all the ingredients they are consuming and are unaware on how unhealthy certain foods actually are. A lot of times foods are advertised to be healthy and good for you, when in actuality they are terrible for you and only have certain healthy aspects, but in whole they are bad. Report
I make subs at home or we have had them at subway.. i like to make mine at home with low fat ham and turkey ..lots of letuce and tomato Report
Sounds delicious but I don't have to worry about it. There are no Penn Stations restaurants in TX. We occasionally patronize Subway and always get a Turkey Club on whole wheat or oat bran, no mayo, extra lettuce & tomatoes. Report
mmmmmmmm......Penn subs.... Report
Its amazing how much crap I used to shovel in my mouth on a regular basis, without even realizing what I was doing. Report
Love Penn Station- thanks for the calorie check! The artichoke/mushroom is my favorite. Report
You make reference to watching the carbs in the dish. Any reason why you don't list them as you do calories/fat? I don't go to the local Subway because I never feel that I am in control of the carbs I am adding to the meal. Report
Subway is my go to "safe" sub shop. It's been years since I've been to a Penn Station, with the grilling, I just figured it would be much higher in fat and calories. Subway has been a wonderful option for a quick, relatively healthy meal in our busy life. Report
There are none of these near me, it could be awful if there were Report
We have several in the St. Louis area but they don't really do anything for me. The bread is probably 70% of the sandwich and what is left doesn't knock my socks off. We have been once....probably won't return. Report
Although there are none of these near me, I do enjoy local po-boy sandwiches occasionally. Report
I LOVE penn station! I live in Indiana and in my city there are probably about 12-15 locations! While subway does give you a better variety with bread, the sandwiches are delicious! All the meat is cooked fresh, the bread is fresh, the fries are fresh! I DEFINITELY recommend this restaurant. There are several sandwiches and you can even make your own! Report
I've never heard of this chain. I like Subway...or Wegman's. Not sure that I would even try this if it WAS here. Report
I like Subway but haven't been there lately. Customer has control of condiments, kind of bread, and building the sandwich.

We do not have Penn Stations anywhere close but we do have Subway. I will eat a 6" Turkey on white, no cheese, no mayo, w/lettuce, tomato, spinach, cucumbers, pickles.....only about 390 cal. Don't know about the sodium. Report
Thanks for the calorie breakdown...there are a few things I could easily eliminate and still be able to enjoy the sandwich with a clear conscience that I didn't do too bad in my meal choice. Report
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