Celebrity Corner Cuisine Featured Rail Travel

Amtrak Dining

Amtrak Dining
Years ago, Amtrak travelers had the luxury of fine dining with crisp linens, fine cutlery and top notch service on trains throughout the United States. Today, however, train passengers aren’t so lucky. Amtrak offers several long-distance routes across the US, some traveling across, others up and down. These long-distance trains that travel overnight are equipped with a dining car offering hot food and beverages for those onboard. This car has a kitchen, tables and even wait staff–making it almost a full-service restaurant.
How to dine in the dining car
First and foremost, make a reservation to eat in the dining car. The car can become very crowded during peak dining hours. Plus, all meals are included in First Class and sleeping car compartment tickets, so those passengers receive first preference in the dining car. Coach Class passengers may dine for an additional charge.
After boarding, a member of the dining car’s wait staff comes through each car to offer a choice of reservation times in 15 minute increments. You select a time and receive a confirmation slip for your reservation. You need to bring this slip to the dining car at your selected time. If the car is full and you don’t have a reservation, your name will be added to a wait list. Reservations aren’t accepted for breakfast.
Dining on an Amtrak
Once in the dining car, be prepared to sit with strangers. It’s very rare to be seated by yourself if you’re traveling alone. You’ll likely be seated with at least one other person, sometimes more, during your meal.
Amtrak Dining

The Menu

While the menu doesn’t offer as many choices as a full restaurant, it isn’t bad considering it is on a train. The breakfast section typically includes an egg option, French toast and a section of meats. Lunch includes a hot choice and some sandwiches. Dinner selection usually includes a steak option, a selection of seafood and a vegetarian or healthy option, at the least. There are kid friendly options, too.

1000 Travel Tips

Sleeping car passengers can choose one non-alcoholic beverage and one entree that is served with a starter salad and bread. Alcohol costs extra and will be added to your final bill. Know your room number and car as this information is noted on your receipt in order to “zero-out” your bill.

The Food

Obviously the food on Amtrak isn’t great, but it’s not too bad. It looks and tastes kind of like a cross between an average chain restaurant and a microwave meal.

On a recent trip, I ordered the steak, cooked to my liking, though it was a bit on the tougher side, indicating that it was most likely frozen at one point. It was served with a salad to start and a strawberry cheesecake for dessert.

Amtrak Dining 2015-10-12-17.57.19-1024x768

Travel Tips

Generally, this was a decent dining endeavor. Don’t go into it expecting a 5-star meal or service–it certainly is neither. But this is an experience you should try. You won’t get this flying, which isn’t a bad thing. Plus, you’re stuck on a train overnight, so why not?

2015-06-07%2014.43.03Jamie Larounis is an avid traveler, blogger and miles/points educator. Traveling well over 100,000 miles a year and staying in hotels for over 100 nights, he leverages miles, points and other deals to fly in first class cabins, and stay in 5-star hotels. His blog, The Forward Cabin, shares his experiences, musings, reviews, tips, tricks, resources and industry news with you, the fellow traveler. Today, in addition to writing The Forward Cabin, Jamie also supports the Frequent Traveler University, a Frequent Traveler Education Foundation project, as a member of their organizing staff where he’s spoken in-depth on the loyalty programs and operations of Amtrak and American Airlines. You’ll also find Jamie as an expert award trip booker with Award Magic, helping clients to redeem frequent flyer miles across a wide variety of reward programs and airlines. Among several media spotlights, he’s spoken at the New York Times Travel Show, written for InsideFlyer, Road Warrior Voices/USA Today, 1000TravelTips.com, the official content platform for the Travel and Adventure Shows, and makes regular guest appearances as a featured expert discussing the travel industry on FOX News. 

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