If you are like me, you want to know your options for eating on Amtrak before leaving on an adventure, especially for longer trips. This article is an abridged overview of my other three Amtrak food articles, traditional dining, flex or contemporary dining, and the cafe. Besides talking about those cars, this article covers the difference between regional and long-distance trains.
Because of the current pandemic, you MUST USE A CARD to purchase food on any train; no cash is accepted. Also, all long-distance trains are serving the flex dining meals but for the Auto Train. The flex meals are only available for sleeper car passengers at this time. Coach passengers can bring food aboard or use the cafe car. As of now, you cannot eat in the cafe car, depending on the train. Amtrak says this is a temporary move, and for more information, check out info on Amtrak’s pandemic response.
What Is An Amtrak Reginal Train?
Regional Trains (Short-haul)
- Routes under 750 miles
- Often state-supported
- Seating is coach-class, with many offer business-class accommodations.
Eating On Regional Trains
Regional trains use café cars with A la carte carry-out style meals. These cars are open most of your journey, for they do close for the attendant breaks along the route (or at a few station stops when the train can lose power). Often after your ticket gets scanned, you can get up and walk to the cafe; listen for announcements if you are at the beginning of the route. Here is a sample cafe car menu; choices can vary on trains. For more information, check out this article.
Not all regional trains have food service, like the Hiawatha.
What Is An Amtrak Long-Distance Train?
- Train routes of 750 plus miles
- Offers coach-class and sleeper accommodations (the Palmetto does not have sleeper cars)
- A few of these trains offer business class
Eating On Long-Distance Trains
Coach And Business Class
- Long-distance passengers can choose to eat in the dining car, but coach passengers are responsible for the cost.
- Dining Cars are not available on trains east of the Mississipi River.
- May purchase food in the cafe car
Due to Covid-19, dining cars are not available to coach and business class passengers.
For Sleeping Car Passenger
- All the scheduled meals in the dining car or Sleeper Lounge come with your room price
- Includes entree, drinks (non-adult), and deserts
- Your first alcoholic beverage comes with your first meal with flex dining
- Tips are appreciated
- Car attendance can bring the food to your room
- Sleeper passengers can purchase additional food or drink in the cafe car
Eating On Amtrak FAQ
Based on the most popular questions I get:
- You can bring food on the train and eat it in your seat, or you can bring food back from the cafe.
- Do not bring personal food into the cafe or dining areas per FDA rules.
- You can only consume the alcohol you purchased on the train unless you have a room.
- Meals can be eating in the dinner or brought back to your room.
- Amtrak cannot store or refrigerate your food or medication. Amtrak can supply ice for a small cooler, bases on the availability plan accordingly.
- Reservations are needed in the traditional dining cars for diner and sometimes lunch depending on the train, and breakfast is first-come, first-serve.