Amtrak dining

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

jis

Chief Dispatcher
Staff member
Administator
Moderator
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2003
Messages
32,761
Location
Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
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.
Since apparently more people are eating in their rooms than in the Diner, apparently Diner seating problems is currently a non-issue. It is hard to tell whether they are staying away from the Diner on their own or they are being encouraged to eat in their rooms explicitly.

In the past several months whenever I traveled on the Silvers, I never saw the Diner being a popular place. Most ate in their rooms.
 
Last edited:

joelkfla

Conductor
Joined
Oct 16, 2018
Messages
1,929
Location
12 miles from Walt Disney World
Since apparently more people are eating in their rooms than in the Diner, apparently Diner seating problems is currently a non-issue. It is hard to tell whether they staying away from the Diner on their own or they are being encouraged to eat in their rooms explicitly.

In the past several months whenever I traveled on the Silvers, I never saw the Diner being a popular place. Most ate in their rooms.
I was going to say the galley might be stretched to capacity, but then I remembered that they're still serving Flex. 🤮
 
Joined
Oct 6, 2021
Messages
66
Location
California
Since apparently more people are eating in their rooms than in the Diner, apparently Diner seating problems is currently a non-issue. It is hard to tell whether they staying away from the Diner on their own or they are being encouraged to eat in their rooms explicitly.

In the past several months whenever I traveled on the Silvers, I never saw the Diner being a popular place. Most ate in their rooms.

I have only my two small observations to add, but both times I've been on the CS in the past few months, just from listening out the sleeper door, it seems like about 50% are opting to eat in the room.

This would align with the pretty small diner crowds I've seen, offers on the PA of the diner open to business class, and a relatively large amount of carryout/room service I've seen leaving the diner.
 

Devil's Advocate

🚂〰️〰️〰️〰️
Joined
May 24, 2010
Messages
13,304
Location
🇺🇸
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.
Maybe it's because I live in the middle of the country but I've rarely needed anything more than a snack and drinks on a domestic flight. Just enough to see me through if there was no time to grab something at the airport. If they served an elaborate meal there wouldn't be much time for me to finish it anyway.

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.
I doubt the Burrito Lady meets most (if any) of the usual health department regulations so that would be the first obstacle to overcome. Personal vehicles and consumer grade insulated coolers are not going to cut it. A licensed food truck might work if Amtrak could maintain dependable scheduling and was willing to provide easy access.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Nov 9, 2011
Messages
2,065
Location
Long Island, NY
I doubt the Burrito Lady meets most (if any) of the usual health department regulations so that would be the first obstacle to overcome. Personal vehicles and consumer grade insulated coolers are not going to cut it. A licensed food truck might work if Amtrak could maintain dependable scheduling and was willing to provide easy access.
And we saw how those Food Trucks for the Auto Train worked out.....
 

jis

Chief Dispatcher
Staff member
Administator
Moderator
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2003
Messages
32,761
Location
Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
And we saw how those Food Trucks for the Auto Train worked out.....
That was an Andersonian dumb idea from the getgo IMHO. Apparently they just expected food trucks to flock to the Auto Train station or something. Did they actually have a contract mechanism that created any commitment from the food trucks in question? I have not been able to get anyone to say anything on that yet. 🤷‍♂️
 

Devil's Advocate

🚂〰️〰️〰️〰️
Joined
May 24, 2010
Messages
13,304
Location
🇺🇸
And we saw how those Food Trucks for the Auto Train worked out.....
At my previous office we had a series of rotating food trucks that were invited to setup for lunch. Popular trucks were invited back and new trucks were brought in to cover empty slots. It was by no means perfect but it seemed to work well enough and could be helpful on days when you were rushing against a deadline. The food truck idea will obviously not work everywhere in the Amtrak system but it might work in a few select areas where several variables happen to line up favorably. Was the Auto Train experiment based on research that showed those two stations were the best locations to deploy food trucks or was it simply trying to fill a growing void in Amtrak's service standards?
 

TheCrescent

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Jun 24, 2020
Messages
363
I view Flexible Dining, even when your food is served in microwave containers with the labels still on, as more first class than "get it yourself from a food truck". But it's certainly subjective as to which one may prefer.
 
Joined
Jan 9, 2021
Messages
799
Location
Boston
I view Flexible Dining, even when your food is served in microwave containers with the labels still on, as more first class than "get it yourself from a food truck". But it's certainly subjective as to which one may prefer.
I think it depends on the food truck. A good Indian, Turkish, or Greek food truck (I realize that’s not what’s being discussed but oh well) is absolutely better than flex and I’d take it in a heart beat, despite the unsexyness of getting it yourself vs. it being served to you.
 
Last edited:

Devil's Advocate

🚂〰️〰️〰️〰️
Joined
May 24, 2010
Messages
13,304
Location
🇺🇸
I view Flexible Dining, even when your food is served in microwave containers with the labels still on, as more first class than "get it yourself from a food truck". But it's certainly subjective as to which one may prefer.
Coach travelers have no access to Traditional Dining or Flex Meals. Maybe they would prefer having the option of buying food from a truck instead of dragging an ice chest with them or consuming Amtrak's stale pantry fare. Not everyone loves burritos but people seem to enjoy having options, even if they're not premium enough for everyone.
 
Joined
Jul 16, 2010
Messages
4,881
How about food storage and availably? I bet they are forcing many passengers to eat in their rooms if they want to or not.
Passengers in rooms likely figure eating there is better as it is much closer to their toilet when they need to throw up. :)

That just leaves the VL2 roomette residents who would have to line up for the two restrooms. For them, the coach restrooms might be a quicker "run" [pun intended].
 

Barb Stout

Conductor
Joined
Mar 13, 2019
Messages
1,083
Location
Albuquerque, NM
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.
I live in ABQ and while I have seen vendors at the train station, I haven't seen food vendors there; the vendors were selling other things like jewelry. I was surprised by the lack of food vendors there because of the long stop in ABQ. Did you actually see food vendors there and what kind of food?
 

Joe from PA

Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 24, 2022
Messages
136
Location
Philadelphia
The "microwave" era started 3 months before the "Covid" era. Prior to that, coach passengers were welcome to use the dining car and pay for the meal. The problem was, I never, in 5 trips, saw anyone enter via the coach door (kitchen end). But Amtrak still had to guess meals based on possible coach meal orders. Lots of wasted food.
I had to smile when Amtrak blamed the "Micro-meals" on the virus.
 

Cal

Engineer
Joined
Jan 23, 2021
Messages
3,873
Location
Socal
I live in ABQ and while I have seen vendors at the train station, I haven't seen food vendors there; the vendors were selling other things like jewelry. I was surprised by the lack of food vendors there because of the long stop in ABQ. Did you actually see food vendors there and what kind of food?
I think by similar vendors they meant the jewelry ones.
 
Joined
Jul 16, 2010
Messages
4,881
The "microwave" era started 3 months before the "Covid" era. Prior to that, coach passengers were welcome to use the dining car and pay for the meal. The problem was, I never, in 5 trips, saw anyone enter via the coach door (kitchen end). But Amtrak still had to guess meals based on possible coach meal orders. Lots of wasted food.
I had to smile when Amtrak blamed the "Micro-meals" on the virus.
Do you mean you never saw coach passengers using the diner BEFORE flex? Not sure if that is correct. I have seen many eating before flex and I was one of the coach people eating in the diner on a trip out of Atlanta.
 

crescent2

Conductor
Joined
Sep 15, 2012
Messages
1,328
Location
a little south of normal
We've always eaten in the dining car the many times we've traveled coach. That was in the good old days of traditional dining. My last day trips on the Crescent I think I even got to dine in one of those new dining cars with the expensive new kitchens that they (brilliantly) promptly quit using after buying them. :rolleyes:

What's the current dining situation on the Crescent? One post seemed to be saying they don't even have a dining car for the flex meals. Does the Crescent only have a cafe car now?

Also, a friend and I would like to plan a short trip on the Empire Builder for possibly later this year. We want to ride a segment that goes through Glacier NP, not sure whether east- or west-bound, or how long. What's the current dining situation on the EB? It's one of the LD trains I've never taken yet. Thanks!
 

Cal

Engineer
Joined
Jan 23, 2021
Messages
3,873
Location
Socal
What's the current dining situation on the Crescent? One post seemed to be saying they don't even have a dining car for the flex meals. Does the Crescent only have a cafe car now?
Flex, microwave food. Many think it's terrible, most think a much better product should be given, and everyone thinks traditional dining is better. And IIRC the Crescent is only running with a cafe at the moment.

Also, a friend and I would like to plan a short trip on the Empire Builder for possibly later this year. We want to ride a segment that goes through Glacier NP, not sure whether east- or west-bound, or how long. What's the current dining situation on the EB? It's one of the LD trains I've never taken yet. Thanks!
I would say go eastbound, if the train is late you still get to see Glacier in the daylight. Currently they have traditional dining, the diner is only open to sleeping car passengers -- coach passengers must get food from the cafe or bring their own.
 
Joined
Apr 5, 2011
Messages
4,717
Location
Baltimore. MD
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
Wait a second. Here's my french toast flex breakfast from last October on the Capitol Limited. It wasn't so bad.

20211018_073734.jpg

The flex food is nothing to write home about, and clearly needs to be improved, but it is edible. In fact, about the only thing on Amtrak that I've been served over the years that was a real culinary disaster was a beef dish I had on the Chief in 2015. That was "Traditional Dining," too. It was bad, but edible. Oh, yes, there was one inedible thing I've been served on Amtrak in all my riding over the years -- that's the kosher omelet. But that was prepared by an outside caterer, so it's really not Amtrak's fault. And there was enough other food in the breakfast pack so that I didn't leave the table hungry.
 
Joined
Apr 5, 2011
Messages
4,717
Location
Baltimore. MD
Maybe it's because I live in the middle of the country but I've rarely needed anything more than a snack and drinks on a domestic flight. Just enough to see me through if there was no time to grab something at the airport. If they served an elaborate meal there wouldn't be much time for me to finish it anyway.
I used to think that I couldn't handle a 5-6 hour coast to coast flight without a meal. Then my employer started booking me on Southwest Airlines. I learned how to suck it up and bring a few snackies to keep my blood sugar at reasonable levels. At least most airlines still have beverage service, and some will even sell light stuff more substantial than a bag of pretzels. (I wish Southwest would.) At a number of airports, the gateside vendors sell light meals and sandwiches packed to go. I once bought a Thai dinner at SFO for a flight home, which worked OK, but the food was a bit sloppy to be carrying around. I don't know how I was able to avoid making a mess, but I did. I find the sandwiches from Pret a Manger to be the best for on-board eating. They're well packaged, and not too messy.
 
Joined
Jul 16, 2010
Messages
4,881
Wait a second. Here's my french toast flex breakfast from last October on the Capitol Limited. It wasn't so bad.
You are lucky. A number of us experienced stale or undercooked french toast and dried out or undercooked bacon. For us, it was just inedible and most was left on the plate. That's the problem with microwaving food or cooking in a convection oven and not having the time or interest in making sure it comes out right.
 

Sidney

OBS Chief
Joined
Jul 12, 2020
Messages
844
You are lucky. A number of us experienced stale or undercooked french toast and dried out or undercooked bacon. For us, it was just inedible and most was left on the plate. That's the problem with microwaving food or cooking in a convection oven and not having the time or interest in making sure it comes out right.
I've had the flex french toast three times,the masochist that I am. Terrible. I can imagine what the omelette tastes like. The difference in flex and traditional is striking. Ill be on the Coast Starlight and then the Sunset/Eagle to Chicago in three days. The transition from traditional to flex on the Eagle from San Antonio will be jarring.
 

Bob Dylan

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
Joined
May 31, 2009
Messages
24,378
Location
Austin Texas
I've had the flex french toast three times,the masochist that I am. Terrible. I can imagine what the omelette tastes like. The difference in flex and traditional is striking. Ill be on the Coast Starlight and then the Sunset/Eagle to Chicago in three days. The transition from traditional to flex on the Eagle from San Antonio will be jarring.
As will being a Prisoner in your Room, since there is no Sightseer Lounge on the Eagle, and you won't be allowed to hang out in the CCC ( Combo Diner and Cafe)🤬
 
Top