Amtrak dining

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Joined
Jul 11, 2008
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484
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San Francisco
I am boarding the following trains in April. Assuming they depart on time ( I board three at their originating point) can I expect to be able to get breakfast right after departure, or will it be too late?

#6 – Departs EMY 9:10 am

#19 – Departs ATL 9:08 am

#1 Departs NOL 9:00 am

#14 Departs LAX 9:51 am

NOL would probably be the only place I would want to drop cash on a quality breakfast, since I am traveling sleeper on these trains.

Also, I presume I will be able to get dinner on #50, since it departs CHI at 5:55 pm.

I am aware that #9 and #50 have café cars only, so it would be flex dining on them.

Thanks.
 
Joined
Jul 16, 2010
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You might have a chance on #19, assuming it is relatively on time....
One of these "flex food" days, I'm going to bring aboard some fresh pastries and fruit along with real silver, china and tablecloth when I can be assured we can eat breakfast in the diner, then just have them bring me butter and coffee. Then I'll set it all out and when other passengers come by and stare, I'll tell them "Well, the food and service sure have improved!" :)
 
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Thanks, Zephyr17 and OBS. I'll plan accordingly. I'll get breakfast at home before heading to EMY, and I guess I'll have to eat in LAUS while transferring from #1. I have over 4 hours layover. Maybe there's a decent restaurant nearby the station. And I'll take a breakfast snack with me on #19.
 

TheCrescent

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Jun 24, 2020
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I am boarding the following trains in April. Assuming they depart on time ( I board three at their originating point) can I expect to be able to get breakfast right after departure, or will it be too late?

#6 – Departs EMY 9:10 am

#19 – Departs ATL 9:08 am

#1 Departs NOL 9:00 am

#14 Departs LAX 9:51 am

NOL would probably be the only place I would want to drop cash on a quality breakfast, since I am traveling sleeper on these trains.

Also, I presume I will be able to get dinner on #50, since it departs CHI at 5:55 pm.

I am aware that #9 and #50 have café cars only, so it would be flex dining on them.

Thanks.

Surely there's a Chick-fil-A within range of the Atlanta station. I don't even bother with Flexible Dining breakfasts; they're basically what you could buy off the shelf at a gas station, and there's a strong likelihood of being fussed at by the cafe car attendant.
 

jis

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For what you are paying for a slseper flex food is not OK. Contrast it with traditional dining. Like night and day.
Dunno. I find it fine. But then I don't ride trains to eat great food, so it is a non issue for me. ;)
 
Joined
Oct 6, 2021
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California
As a very minor aside, I had dinner in the CS dining car yesterday. Very small crowds, and service much the same as in October. Mixed drinks and wine in glass, other drinks in plastic. Plating was plastic, but good quality and branded. Metal flatware and cloth napkins.

Food was good, though the chef was clearly taking some liberties. Both my steak and my mom's chicken were served with *massive* portions of sides (heaping plate). I'm certainly not complaining, but worth pointing out.

Also, the miso buerre blanc sauce, listed for the salmon, was used very generous as a plate garnish on both the steak and chicken. While it might be tasty w/ the salmon - it definitely didn't mix well with the red wine steak sauce.

A great meal, though, and service was excellent. Was my mom's first time on a long distance train, or having a dining car meal, and she loved it.
 

CameraObscura76

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Apr 10, 2014
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the problem I've had lately with the flex meals is that it seems like they over-microwave them. So the pasta in the pasta and meatballs has hardened up at the edges and is gluey elsewhere. On one trip the French toast was so hard I couldn't easily cut it (wound up breaking it with my hands). When it's heated properly it's OK but...there seems to be a really narrow sweet spot between "dangerously underdone" and "dried out and overcooked.

This most recent trip I ate dinner in my room (the diner had already filled up) and breakfast alone in the diner.
This was my breakfast yesterday morning…rubbery French toast with very undercooked bacon. I only took a couple of bites and just ended up throwing it away. I can’t believe Amtrak deems this acceptable for first class service. 1F174B7D-835C-4FE1-AA06-7080223CEF27.jpeg
 
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Agreed and contrast it to first class meals on domestic airline flights. They are significantly better.
I have been on probably a dozen domestic first class flights in the last six months. I have had a grand total of one meal, period. It was a meal marginally better than flex food - maybe.

Other than that, the absolute zenith on every other flight has been a cup of coffee in a foam cup, with a biscotti to dip in it.
 

fillyjonk

OBS Chief
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Mar 10, 2011
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This was my breakfast yesterday morning…rubbery French toast with very undercooked bacon. I only took a couple of bites and just ended up throwing it away. I can’t believe Amtrak deems this acceptable for first class service. View attachment 26905
Yeah that's like what I got one time - bacon underdone, toast overdone. Not sure how that happens when they're cooked in the same container. I guess I just accept it because I've concluded everything is terrible now. (teaching 2 years during a pandemic has broken me and made me just expect the worst)
 

TheCrescent

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That's not what I'm hearing from trip reports the last couple of years -- mostly snack packs or a nasty sandwich with unrecognizable contents. International flights, probably so.

Try airline meals.net or having a first-class airline meal instead of hearing things secondhand.

The filet mignon that I had on a 3-hour flight on American Airlines a while back was excellent.

There’s certainly a range of quality, but At least airlines serve first-class meals on real china with metal silverware, and unlimited adult beverages in real glasses. If Amtrak did that with flexible dining, it would help.
 
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Joined
Jan 26, 2020
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Oregon Coast
First, food trucks would be inadequate to handle the potentially large crowds (including coach passengers) who suddenly want their hot food, drinks, etc and who all have to pay. Nowhere enough time even at most "smoking" stops. Would cause too much delay. The only externally supplied food would be something already prepared, heated, paid for, named for specific passenger, and directly turned over to Amtrak crew so it could be distributed even as the train leaves the station or after. Then what happens if someone wanting or NEEDING a specific thing (no mayo, not too spicy, gluten free, etc) doesn't get the correct thing or meals are mixed up and one person is already eating the wrong thing. The burrito lady in El Paso can do it because it is a small cash business with only a few different items kept warm in insulated container instead of a truck but they are all unique to that one stop so there is no need or capability for "specials" and the stop is long and in the middle of the day. Moreover, there are no guarantees that she will be there so there is no dependency on her presence.

As to "great dining experience", few here are expecting the "great" on this forum. Most want a variety of good edible food and at least some "experience" considering the cost of the sleeper.
I've enjoyed the iconic Burrito Lady's simple cuisine several times... it's tasty and satisfying and only $3. She's been there a long time and the crews seem to know her and promote her business. Similar vendors at Albuquerque stop. It would be great to see more of these 'foodie' opportunities. In fact, there are similar vendors train-side vendors throughout Asia. I don't see why Amtrak couldn't collaborate with more of these entrepreneurs with a simple invite to do so.

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Joined
May 13, 2014
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Boston & Florida
I'm wondering how the "Super Star" is doing feeding 5 sleeper cars. Figuring a max of 150 passengers divided by 3 dinner seatings you are just about at capacity if the Viewliner had the as-designed 48 seats. But with the reduction to 42 seats from the loss of seating due to the poorly executed ADA accommodation and the crew's usual habit of eliminating two tables for set-ups and personal items, it must be kind of hectic.

How about food storage and availably? I bet they are forcing many passengers to eat in their rooms if they want to or not.
 
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