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Quality of food on an Amtrak Superliner?

Hi! My husband and I are considering taking Amtrak from Boston to Chicago to New Mexico to visit family in Taos, and then return by plane. The train ride would be for the experience, however, both of us have little tolerance for REALLY bad food. Has anybody had the Amtrak food on any of the Superliner trains? Is it tolerable?

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  1. We took Amtrak from Chicago to New Mexico to visit friends in Santa Fe and for the most part enjoyed the trip. The food was not memorable but it was fine. The best part was the experience being seated with people who we didn't know and learning new things from them. We got off the train in Lamy New Mexico which is about 15 miles south of Santa Fe, the Legal Tender there had very good food but I hear that it has closed.

    2 Replies
    1. re: LikestoEatout

      Thanks so much for the input! We are also headed to Lamy and then onto Taos via my uncle's car. Happy to hear that the food was tolerable. We'll go for it!

      1. re: LikestoEatout

        We recently returned from a trip from Denver to Oakland on the Amtrak California Zephyr. I think LikestoEatout nailed it with "not memorable but fine" - fine in this case being "OK."

        The best meal by non-train standards was probably breakfast, which in our case was fully the equal of what you might expect in a decent diner, and offered a good selection of choices. Lunch fare was the standard mix of burgers and sandwiches - OK, but nothing special. I had a surprisingly nice herbed roast chicken at dinner with an (again) surprisingly nice bottle of wine. I agree that the prices were high, but as we had booked a roomette the meals were all included, so that really didn't matter. For anyone traveling in a coach seat and paying separately for meals I'd counsel trying to bring your own food and avoid the diner, or buy something simpler from the cafe in the lounge car.

        Overall, I wouldn't recommend traveling by train primarily to experience the food, but neither would I avoid traveling by train because of the food - it's really not bad at all. (As a P.S. - the service was painfully slow, but of course it's not really like you've got anything else to do or anyplace else you need to be.)

      2. We took the train from Petersburg, VA to Albuquerque, and another time from NYC to Albuquerque; for the most part, we ate food that we brought with us and went to an Italian restaurant when we changed trains in Chicago (8 hr. layover)...but we did go to the snack bar a few times and had dinner in the dining car once during each way...my kids had burgers and I had the vegetable lasagna, which was surprisingly good.

        The menu is by no means gourmet and it is expensive but I'm sure you can find something on the menu that you might enjoy...another thing is that the portion size of the entrees were on the small side... The best thing about taking the train out west is the view in the sightseeing car; it's gorgeous with all the mountains & valleys when the sun is setting...

        5 Replies
        1. re: Cherylptw

          Thanks for the idea re bringing our own chow. We plan to do some hiking in Taos, so may be loaded down with such gear, but we will certainly make the effort! And thank you for replying -- your enthusiasm has me even more psyched for the trip!

          1. re: lifes2short4badfood

            You'll enjoy the train; just don't forget that you'll have about a six hour layover in Chicago...it can be very boring in that station, so consider venturing out to eat, shop or sightsee, etc while you wait. If you are going during the week, you may be able to get guest tickets on one of the talk shows in the Chicago area, (i.e. Oprah, Letterman, Leno, etc).

            .One last thing..the temperature on the train can vary greatly during the entire trip; they kept the train cool even in January... we took light blankets & real pillows (hey, I had tweenagers at the time, I had to be prepared!).. have a great trip!

            1. re: Cherylptw

              Only Oprah is in Chicago.

              1. re: LikestoEatout

                You're right; I stand corrected but the area is downtown so there are other things to do in the meantime

                1. re: Cherylptw

                  Chicago's Union Station is right downtown so you will be walking distance (or very short taxi distance) from State Street shopping (the big Macy's was Marshall Field and you will also find Old Navy, TJ Maxx, Filene's Basement, and Nordstrom's Rack all within one block) and also the Art Institute (huge famous art museum). As for restaurants, go to "chicago restaurant menus" and click onto LOOP---you will be within walking distance of all of them, and the website shows all menus so you can see what you're getting into. if you have six hours, check your luggage and go out for a meal, shopping,sightseeing.

        2. AMTRAK summer 2008 Chicago-Washington DC-Chicago the food was awful. My previous long-haul AMTRAK trip had been 15 years before with great food--- prime rib and homemade pie. This time my chicken dish had not only bones but pinfeathers in it and the frozen desserts (including my cheesecake) had not been thawed and were still frozen solid. If I am not mistaken ALL of the food had been catered in frozen. Choices were limited. Breakfast was hideous. Service was original (waiter cleared table by throwing silverware a la basketball the width of the car into a dishpan and when he bumped into (elderly) me he said, "Oops, Honey"). Understand, I am not a fussy diner-out---I love greasy spoons and diners---but I could not believe the deterioration in AMTRAK's---I hesitate to call it the "dining" car---more like the slopping car.

          1. Re Chicago layover---Union Station is right downtown. You can walk to some restaurants or reach most with ten minutes of taxi. Go to the Chicago board for suggestions. Will this be before Christmas Eve? There is a big a German Christmas market ("Christkindlmarkt") at Daley Plaza, a ten-minute walk from Union Station---every year German vendors come over to hold this, selling German merchandise. It's fun. Lots of German street food too. They come at Thanksgiving and leave Christmas Eve.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Querencia

              Second on the get out of the station idea, you're right downtown and not more than a 15 minute cab ride form most anything you'd want.

            2. I have long used this link as a guide for AMTRAK - it even includes a food section:

              http://cardhouse.com/travel/train.htm

              Bring a string and good luck!

              1. Once proud trains were serving slop via the automat, on trains such as Southern Pacific's Sunset Limited as depicted here in 1969, just a few years before the nationalization of passenger service into Amtrak.

                http://www.texastrainzone.com/

                Go to Don Taylor's passenger train memories, then awesome Southern Pacific memories.

                1. We recently took the Silver Meteor from NYC to Jacksonville and back, and thought the meals were better than "adequate" as others have described them. Think chain restaurant or "Olive Garden".
                  The seafood catch one day was mahi-mahi, not bad, served with a side of tasty gumbo. The steak cut I had on our return was not identified...I'm guessing club steak...but was cooked as ordered and was accompanied by a nice baked potato and a veggie mixture. Our tablemates had the baked chicken and seemed to enjoy it. The desserts were a little disappointing, though, but you can always get the ice cream cup and take it back to your room.

                  Breakfasts were quite filling. I had scrambled eggs on the trip south (with more pork sausage and home fries than I could handle) and French toast on the return (again more food than I needed). My virtuous wife had the oatmeal or cereal.

                  You can find the menus for many Amtrak trains at
                  http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/Content...
                  The Silver Meteor menu was not listed but was similar to the Crescent menu there. The Acela menu seems to be much better. Although the meals were included in the roomette (the designer of those things was NOT a senior citizen!), I left a tip for the waiters, although I noted not everyone did.