Amtrak changes due to Covid-19 restrictions have resulted in all Amtrak long-distance trains reverting to this new "Flexible Dining" menu. While I personally hope that Amtrak's "Traditional Dining" returns, I thought it would be helpful to provide a short review of my experiences along with current pictures of Amtrak Dining Cars in the Flex Dining setup to set your expectations when planning an Amtrak long-distance train ride.
Amtrak's Flexible Dining Menu is only offered for Sleeping Car Passengers, which means that Coach Class Amtrak passengers only have the Cafe Car Menu to choose from for food and beverage service. (Previously, Coach Passengers could also eat in the dining car).
Click Here to see Amtrak's National Cafe Car Menu
Sleeping Car Passenger "Flexible Dining" meals are included in the sleeping car ticket. This also includes 1 alcoholic drink per trip and complimentary soft drinks, coffee, tea and bottled water throughout the journey.
Amtrak sleeping car passengers may choose to eat their meal in the dining car or have it delivered to their room. All sleeping car accommodations have a small table within the room. The dining car essentially becomes a separate lounge / table car for sleeping car passengers with this operation.
For Breakfast, passengers are asked to go to the dining car to pick up their breakfast items. A choice of Cereal, Kind Bars, Muffins, and fresh fruit will be set out for self-service, while milk, yogurt, and a breakfast sandwich may be ordered, along with beverages, from the attendant.
Lunch and Dinner are both the same menu. Either your sleeping car attendant or the dining car attendant will come by your room before each meal and take your order and also ask what time you would like to eat and offer you a choice to dine in either the dining car or your sleeping car room. I will describe my experience with each type of service.
For Lunch, I ordered the "Creole Shrimp & Andouille" and requested to eat in the dining car. My sleeping car attendant took my order and at the appropriate time, I went to the diner. It was slightly confusing what I should do upon arrival since the dining car attendant was busy preparing several orders so I had a seat and asked one of the sleeper attendants who passed through. The attendant asked my name and said he would check for me, and he brought my food right to my table. After you finish your meal, you are expected to clear your own table and throw away your trash, this makes the experience similar to a fast-food restaurant.
The entrees on the flexible dining menu are comparable in both appearance and taste to a microwavable dinner bowl. A small salad is served with each meal as well as a brownie. for dessert.
Amtrak Dining Car Menu - Flexible Dining.
The Braised Beef was tender but the Red Wine sauce was extremely salty in taste. Polenta and vegetables were served with the beef in the same plastic bowl, again, microwave dinner style.
Menus for Amtrak Dining Cars during Flex Dining are available at -
This review of Amtrak's Dining Car is based on a train ride I took on Amtrak's Silver Meteor prior to Covid-19. Your experience may differ from mine based on your train crew, and current local health recommendations.
Amtrak's Auto Train continues to serve a traditional dining car dinner on board as of this writing.
For more photos and information on Long-Distance passenger trains by Amtrak and others, please visit Long Distance Trains