How to Score a Great Meal on a Train
Having a great meal on an Amtrak long-distance train is like no other dining you’ve done before. Along with the gorgeous scenery outside your window, we serve breakfast, lunch and dinner on most of our routes, and those occasions are a great way to meet your fellow passengers, break up long trips and experience train travel at its best.
For novice travelers, it’s important to know a few key aspects of dining on a train.
Your ticket might already include meals!
First, depending on where you are seated on the train, your meal may already be included in your ticket price. Passengers who have booked roomettes or rooms have their meals included and must bring their tickets with them to meals. Passengers riding in the coach section do not have their meals included but are free to walk to the dining car to make a reservation. So come on down!
Just like Chili’s on a Friday night, the dining car gets busy, so it’s helpful to make a reservation. Also keep in mind that the Amtrak dining cars only serve meals at set times. For example, breakfast usually ends around 9 a.m. so the staff can begin preparing for lunch. Making a reservation with an Amtrak staff member will help you avoid long waits or missed meals altogether.
When it’s your reservation time wait at the entrance of the car. Just like in a traditional restaurant when you wait at a hostess stand to be seated, it is important for traffic flow that you wait to be seated. The Amtrak staff will then signal your seat to you or walk you to your booth.
Lastly, ordering food and paying for your meals happens the same way on a train as it does in a stationary restaurant.
It might surprise some travelers, but when dining on a train you are often seated with other passengers. This is a great opportunity to meet your fellow travelers, hear their stories and maybe even make a life-long friend.
So take our advice. Experience our unique dining car service on your next long-distance trip, and save room for dessert!
What are some tips you can offer other passengers for how to have a great meal on Amtrak? Tell us in the comments below!
Read More All Aboard!: The Man Behind Your Amtrak Meal
The meals are amazing. I love meeting fellow travelers and hearing their stories. I usually ask for the last seating. It isn't as crowded and I can linger over coffee or a glass of wine and not feel rushed.
My husband and I have nothing but praise and admiration for the cooks and wait staff on the long distant routes. We traveled from St. Louis to San Antonio and the meals and companions were excellent. Having a sense of adventure, a patient attitude and a kind smile goes a long way during the trip. Just remember, ALL train employees live, sleep AND work in the same close conditions that travelers are experiencing on the train. Try to tame those short tempers when things do not go your way. Enjoy the ride!
Took an overnight trip from Philadelphia to Orlando and had three meals included with my ticket. The food was amazing.
I only had two complaints.
1. Vegan options require 72 hours notice by phone prior to departure. This meant that for my Saturday morning breakfast I had to call by 4pm Tuesday. Not very convenient.
2. In Washington DC, the power went out for about twenty minutes. Well I was mid dinner. My server insisted this happened all the time, but even so, maybe battery lanterns for the tables? That was I could see what I'm eating.
otherwise, I was beyond impressed with the meal quality and the atmosphere.
The only issue I have with the dining car is that people who are of a larger size cannot fit in the booths. I had a great meal there but was very uncomfortable in the seating. If they were just 2 more inches out from the table it would have made the dining experience better. Because of that I ate the rest of my meals from the snack bar and took it back to my seat.
@SandeBarrettBihlmaier I don't like to HAVE to sit with 3 other people-too often I got snotty nosed kids who's adult person did not see it important to make them wipe their noses or become humans in their eating or behaving practices-I like to read the paper (unavailable on most trains). I gave up on the dining car and have meals brought to disabled car to avoid having to sit with pigs but the trade off is that the car attendants forget to take our orders until just about everything is gone, they usually forget half the meal and you don't get a 2nd cup of coffee. The newspapers would be nice but they don't even sell them at the stations in most places. It would be nice if they had a time period for people who do like to eat alone and read. 1 trip I did luck out and get some teachers to enjoy hearing correct English for a change but sadly even the younger teachers have caved to the teenybopper "I'm like, and she's like" etc Anyway-the half chicken dinner is the best on the TX Eagle and I plan on doing my 19th round trip on it about Apr-May and go from Los Angeles to Mineola, TX then from Mineola to Chicago to see my other grandkids and finally from Chicago back to Los Angeles for about 343.00 using my VeteransAdvantage.com 15% discount. Can't wait to start esp to get off at Mineola to get my regular hug from the beautiful 80 y/o museum volunteer and see my son, daughter and 2 granddaughters plus stepdaughters and their kids too. I don't like leaving Los Angeles at 10pm -we don't get a decent meal the 1st night and everyone is tired and cranky-used to leave at 3pm and kids could get distracted with the Boneyard. On the way back-we get to LA at 5:30 am and that is too early to get kids up and off the train without a decent breakfast-it can't be that urgent to get off with half asleep, cranky, hungry kids. Resting and getting off at about 7-8am would be much better than the train can go and be cleaned up for the next run-usually the trains don't look like they were cleaned before our trip so not a big deal!
@SandeBarrettBihlmaier I wonder if Bihlmaier and Bleymaier are related?! And I agree that seats/tables need to accommodate plus sized people.
@SandeBarrettBihlmaier really truth and gree all way with u
@SandeBarrettBihlmaier the situation is still basically the same but on the positive side-that beautiful Lady Martha is still at Mineola and is 81 and still hugging us. One change is that some greedy CEO decided to have the Burrito Lady-the main good part of the trip-she was run off by some greedy person at Amtrak so instead of ordering more Amtrak food we bring more of our own-the person made a very stupid move-the lady was a major part of the Amtrak tradition on TXEagle. Last t trip was approx. Jun 2014-you should have heard the anger and disappoint on the train from crew and passengers alike.