Dining options available to passengers traveling with Amtrak depend on the distance and route. Passengers can enjoy full sit-down meals in long-distance dining cars and informal food service at cafe and snack cars. Menu choices differ between routes; Amtrak offers a listing of current meal options on its website. Generally, long-distance trains feature rotating menus that allow passengers to enjoy different options on outbound and return trips, while menus on cafe and snack cars are generally static.
Onboard Dining Options
Long-distance trains include a dining car with hot meals prepared by onboard chefs. Meals are included with tickets for first class, sleeping accommodation and Auto Train services. Passengers in coach dine for a fee. Most trains offer lounge, dinette, cafe or snack cars with carry-out foods for purchase, including snacks and beverages. City of New Orleans and Texas Eagle routes feature regionally-inspired cuisine in the Cross Country Cafe. On Acela Express routes, first class passengers are served hot meals. All passengers can purchase food and beverages from the Cafe Acela.
Breakfasts in dining cars include a choice between hot entrees or continental breakfast service. Lunch selections generally include vegetarian and steak burgers, a vegetarian entree salad and a warm specialty sandwich, in addition to a rotating hot entree special. Hot dinner entrees are served with salad, bread roll and coffee, tea or milk. All meals include a choice of deserts, and alcoholic beverages are available for purchase. In addition to hot and cold beverages, cafe and snack cars offer hot snacks, such as pizza and burgers, and cold snacks, including chips, chocolates, sandwiches and salads.
Amtrak provides some alternative menu options for passengers with special dietary requirements. Special meals, including kosher and vegan, are available on most trains when travelers provide 24-hour advanced notice for Acela Express first class service and 72-hour advanced notice for other services. At least one vegetarian meal option is offered on all dining, snack and cafe car menus. As of May 2011, low fat, low cholesterol, low sodium, gluten free, wheat free or peanut free meals are not offered.
Amtrak's Culinary Advisory Team is made up of employees, suppliers and culinary professionals. The advisory team develops menu options for select Amtrak routes and services, including the Acela Express first class service. As of 2011, the team was led by Michel Richard, an expert chef in French/California cuisine and owner of the Michel Richard Citronelle restaurant in Washington. Michel Richard was the James Beard Foundation Outstanding Chef in 2007 and received the 2008 James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant.