Happening Now

Silver Services Latest to Get Traditional Dining

June 27, 2023

by Jim Mathews / President & CEO

Today Amtrak confirmed what a few lucky passengers learned by surprise over the weekend – the Silver Star and the Silver Meteor have each had their Traditional dining restored, with menu options similar to the upgraded and highly popular service now offered on the Western trains.

Although right now this particular piece of good news is limited to Sleeping car passengers, Amtrak says it hopes to scale up availability to Coach passengers by the end of the year, a development your Association staff will track very closely.

There are also a few new additional amenities we haven’t yet seen systemwide which will make for an even better passenger experience. Table service will ditch plastic for glassware and cutlery, and the butcher-block paper table coverings will be replaced with true white-linen tablecloths. The new line-up, which Amtrak describes as “re-imagined,” also includes vegetarian and vegan items, along with a kids’ menu. And, as on the Western trains, dinners include a complimentary alcoholic beverage.

For now, Amtrak says in today’s press release, “traditional dining will be offered as an exclusive, complimentary amenity for customers traveling in First Class private rooms. Café service, also featuring a newly updated menu, will be available onboard for all customers—offering a variety of meals, snacks, and beverages for sale.”

The menu includes four vegetarian options at breakfast, two at lunch, and one at dinner, along with two vegetarian kids’ menu items – a grilled cheese sandwich and a homestyle mac and cheese entrée. It also includes a link to AmtrakFoodFacts.com, which displays partial ingredient and allergen lists for most items.

The rigatoni pasta entrée on the dinner menu (pictured) includes a vegetarian “meat” sauce. The chicken breast entrée (also pictured) is served with a lemon risotto and a tomato-butter sauce.

Today Coach passengers are already able to buy dining-car meals on the California Zephyr, the Coast Starlight, the Empire Builder, the Southwest Chief, the Sunset Limited, and the Texas Eagle between San Antonio and Los Angeles. But that didn’t happen right away when Traditional Dining was originally restored, because Amtrak managers say they wanted to wring out all of the problems first at a smaller scale. The railroad’s top long-distance executive says they’ll take the same approach on the Silver services.

“We first assured [ourselves] that we were able to successfully deliver the dining service to the First Class customers before inviting Coach customers to participate in the [Traditional Dining] experience,” Larry Chestler, the long-distance line VP, told me today. “We intend to go through the same process for the new Traditional Dining service on the Silver Star and Silver Meteor, and will expand the offering to Coach customers in a similar fashion. If all goes well, we will make the change later this year.”

If you want to know what dining service YOUR train will offer, we've come up with this informational chart below. But of course, we're still working to make these choices available systemwide...so that a chart won't even be necessary!