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.

Amtrak Breakfast

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!

Amtrak Ticket for Superliner Roomette

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.

Amtrak Dining Car

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



I cannot believe that if I pay for a trip lasting 10hrs, there is NO food or snack or EVEN A CUP of water included!! Wtf? That is lame.


I've been traveling AMTRAK for years.  But imagine my surprise when, on the Northeast Regional, I found that the best meal deal, the Chicken Caesar Salad, had been dropped from the menu.  For a traveler on the Northeast Regional this was the best thing about the food in the cafe car.  I'm hoping that others might mention this and that the salad will reappear, SOON!


We are currently on the Cresent between Baltimore and Philadelphia. Dining staffers are rude and lazy. A large staffer just came past our bedroom announcing lunch service. When we asked how long they would serve, he said it would only be for those arriving immediately and for a very short period of time. It was then about 11:15 am. At breakfast, staff occupied about 4 tables of the dining room while passengers were crowded into the remainder. Staff set and kibitzed, not taking our order for 20 minutes. No coffe refills, very curt service. What's going on? Doesn't Amtrak value their customers?


@JCBC Why should they, you are a captive audience.   I have a 16 hour ride from Sacramento to SLC coming up, not looking forward to it.