Amtrak dining car and cafe – your food options on all routes

the Sam truck still have dining cars on

their trains what are they like

what routes have what meals what's

Amtrak food cost what are the hours and

the rules can I bring my own food and


hi I'm still Jeremy I'll go over all of

these questions and more in this video

climb aboard and let's eat


there are basically two ways to eat

Amtrak food simple things from the

so-called cafe or for meals from the

dining car of all the Amtrak routes in

the United States only for the Amtrak

Hartford Line the Hiawatha Keystone

service and Valley flyer have neither of

these so no food at all all of the rest

have at least a cafe and fourteen plus

one sort of also have dining car service


first let's talk about the cafe the one

that nearly every Amtrak route has the

cafe is a casual place to get simple

food including prepackaged sandwiches

and candy bars as well as heated up food

and on some routes pizza slices and

hamburgers and hotdogs and things like

that different routes have different

cafe menus all passengers whether in a

seat or a private compartment need to

pay for things from the cafe prices are

not too bad and there's usually a place

to sit and enjoy the views even on short

routes you can look at PDFs of the

current cafe menu on any route on the

Amtrak website you can also sometimes

buy things like batteries and Amtrak

playing cards at the cafe the cafe is

usually open from early morning until

late at night if you want an afternoon

snack or a beer the cafe is where you go

when it comes to Amtrak's famous full

meal dining cars there are two types

traditional and flexible let's go over

the differences dining cars used to all

be traditional but about half were

downgraded in 2019 as of this video only

these seven routes offer what Amtrak

calls traditional dining Auto train

California Zephyr coast starlight Empire

Builder Southwest chief Sunset Limited

and Texas Eagle traditional dining means

the classic dining car experience that's

been famous for decades it's a full hot

meal service prepared in the train by

staff in a kitchen how it works is the

staff will walk through the Train

beforehand and ask you when you'd like

to eat and will accommodate you the best

they can and issue you a ticket at York

time you take your ticket to the dining

car and you'll be seated at a table with

a white tablecloth and you order from

the server just like it

restaurant every meal is free if you

paid for a private sleeper compartment

but if you're travelling in a seat

you'll have to pay the server for your

meal again just like a restaurant it can

get pricey a note about traditional

dining on auto train between Washington

DC and Orlando it's only available to

those with a private sleeper compartment

and it comes with a free glass of wine

otherwise alcohol in all traditional

dining cars costs extra

Amtrak only serves alcohol to passengers

21 and over finally please leave a tip

for your server after each meal besides

the delicious food one famous and

notable feature of Amtrak's traditional

dining car is that tables always have

four people at them meaning you'll be

seated with other random passengers

conversations always break out as you

compare itineraries and impressions of

the train and the countryside it might

sound a little daunting to some but it's

really a fun feature of traditional

dining making temporary new friends as

part of the Amtrak experience the other

type of meal service is flexible dining

which was introduced in 2019 as a

replacement for traditional dining on

these routes Capital Limited Cardinal

city of New Orleans Crescent Lake Shore

Limited and Silver Meteor and Silver

Star so most of the eastern

long-distance routes

you might remember hearing news stories

in 2019 that Amtrak was discontinuing

its dining cars that made it sound like

no food would be available on any routes

nationwide but in fact the only thing

that changed is the type of meals and

the seating on these seven routes so

what is flexible dining it's sort of a

cross between traditional dining in the

cafe and it's only available for

passengers and sleeping compartments not

coach seats the quality of the food and

flexible dining is a step up from the

cafe but not nearly as nice as a

traditional dining car flexible dining

meals are prepackaged fresh enough but

merely heated up on the train you can

eat anytime you want in the given meal

hours since you are ordering anything to

be prepared just selecting from a stock

supply you can opt to be served in your

room or you can sit in the flexible

dining car which has no table costs and

no assigned seating the car is actually

open 24/7 so

outside mealtimes you can hang around

there but again only if you're staying

in a private compartment basically it's

the formality and forced dinner

companions of the traditional service

that were done away with in flexible

dining but so are the beloved higher-end

food options on the other hand one bonus

of flexible dining is that the first

alcoholic drink of your journey is free

this situation is true as of mid 2020

and I'd recommend trying to take one of

the routes that still offer traditional

dining whenever you can for all anyone

knows all overnight amtrak routes may be

converted to the less personable

flexible dining in the future it's a

traditional amtrak dining car experience

while you still can the hours for both

the traditional and flexible dining

service are the same breakfast is 6:30

to 10:00

lunch is 11:30 to 3:00 and dinner is

5:00 to 9:00 30 hours are based on local

time zones and may be adjusted due to

delays so who exactly can use the meal

service anybody on board at the time

well it depends on your original

boarding time you must first board by

9:30 a.m. to be eligible for that day's

breakfast by 2:30 p.m. for lunch and by

8:30 p.m. for dinner once you're on

board you can eat every meal until you

get off one route Isela which links

Washington DC in New York City has its

own unique food system the cafe Acela is

available to all passengers and uses

Amtrak's corridor cafe menu while

passengers and first-class seats can

also order from the first-class menus of

which there are three that rotate every

two weeks again you can see the menus on

Amtrak's website cafe Acela items cost

extra but the first-class menu is all

free there's no dining car so you eat at

your seat


there are some options on some Amtrak

routes for specialty foods basically you

can get kosher food and vegan food vegan

meals are available on all routes that

have either traditional or flexible

dining and you don't have to give any

advance notice just tell the server at

Meal Time vegan meals are also available

on a cèlle where you do need to give

notice at least 24 hours before your

train leaves its original station even

cafes on some routes also have vegan

choices kosher meals are available on

all overnight routes plus in first-class

on a seller you must notify Amtrak 72

hours before your train leaves its

original station to get a kosher meal

accept a sell a first-class which only

needs to 24 hours notice there's no

extra charge for kosher meals except for

coach passengers on auto train who have

to pay $40 note that Amtrak also offers

a Passover kosher meal other special

food requests low fat low cholesterol

low sodium gluten free week free peanut

free and other foods for those with

allergies are not offered by Amtrak they

say that some of their regular foods

might be appropriate in some

circumstances so check with the actual

menu on your route the worst case

scenario is you'd have to bring your own

food and about bringing your own food

that is allowed on Amtrak trains the

rule is you have to eat and drink such

food in your seat or private compartment

but not in the dining car or the cafe

you can take it to the upper deck of the

Superliner observation car though

passengers and sleeper compartments can

drink their own alcohol in their rooms

too Amtrak also can't heat up any food

you bring and can't store anything in a

refrigerator for you passengers with

disabilities can opt to be served in

their seat or bedroom or if using a

wheeled mobility device may be able to

move to the dining car at a stop

beforehand ask the staff when you board

if you ride an Amtrak train you won't go

hungry whether you're eating in the cafe

or with either the traditional or

flexible dining services food and drink

is an important part of enjoying your

trip again I'd advise you to try all

types just to have the experiences

before they change or go away

always check the Amtrak website for the

latest on menus times and prices because

things do indeed change enjoy your food

everything tastes better on a train

thanks for watching check out my other

videos for travel tips stories from my

own travels and my experiences as a type

1 diabetic wanderer see you on the rails