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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I am from the Philly area and when I lived there subs were a weekly meal.Since I moved to MD.I haven't had a sub. Report
I have reached the point where my car never pulls into any fast food joint....I have never been a salt eater....and now, I can't stand that greasy feeling I get in my a coating...yeck!! Report
The amazing thing about the menu items is the amount of sodium in the bread. Apparently the wraps have even more! It would be interesting to go to corporate management and ask them why they have chosen a bread product that is so unhealthy. Cutting that sodium in half would improve the health profile of all their products and customers would likely never even notice the change. Report
This place is a SALT LICK! We tried it on a friend's recommendation and it was so salty I could barely eat it and drank a ton of water to not retain water the rest of the week. For those who don't have one near you, you're not missing anything.
:-) Report
Mmm, I like Penn Station!! I usually get the small artichoke sub or the small chicken parmesan sub - glad to see both of those are in the suggestions for healthier options! :) The trouble is not munching on my boyfriend's fries!! Report
This place sounds yummy! Only thing is...I'm from Philly. What's described above is NOT a Philly cheesesteak. lol Report
We don't have any Penn Stations here, but we just got a Gandolfo's which sounds pretty similar (and is oh so good!). I love sub/sandwich shops...when I'm in a situation where i need to eat out, these places make it easy to eat healthy. Just make sure to go for lean meats and low sauce...Subway's 6in meatball sub is just about as bad as a Big Mac. I usually go for turkey or ham sandwiches, loaded with lots of veggies, and I use honey mustard and skip the mayo. Report
I do on occasion if I'm busy; however, I only eat half of a foot-long... or, in this case, half of this 10" sub.

Having only recently moved to the Cincinnati area, I had never seen or heard of Penn Station East Coast Subs, but there is one not too far from my apartment complex. Report
I haven't heard of Penn Station East Coast subs in Canada. Report
I try to stay away from subs, too much bread. Report
Penn Station East Coast Subs....there are none near me Report
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