Dining on the Amtrak California Zephyr

Dining on the Amtrak California Zephyr

Recently I took the California Zephyr across the country from Emeryville, CA to Chicago, IL.  I traveled with my mom and we booked a Superliner Bedroom to have a bit more space.  All rooms, whether a Bedroom or Roomette, include meals with the cost of the ticket.

All meals in the Dining Car are communal meaning you sit with other passengers.  They try to fill booths up to a total of four people.

On the Zephyr going East, a total of seven meals are served:

  • Day One: Lunch & Dinner
  • Day Two: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
  • Day Three: Breakfast & Lunch

Amtrak California Zephyr Menu

This January (2020), Amtrak updated their menu.  There is a lot of talk about Amtrak discontinuing the Dining Car, but for now this is the menu that is served on long distance trains in the dining car.  The menu is the same everyday.

Of course you can also eat in the snack car, though the meal choices are much more limited and not included with the cost of a ticket.

Below are the meals I tried during my trip across country.  The price that I list is how much it would cost to order off the menu for those in coach.

Lunch (Day 1): Caesar Salad (add chicken), side of mashed potatoes, and a Coke.  For dessert I had the flourless chocolate torte. ($25.00 plus side of potatoes not priced on menu) The salad was pretty basic but I enjoyed the packet of roasted nuts that I added to the salad.  The mashed potatoes were pretty delicious too.  The chocolate torte was great and I had it as my dessert for most meals.

Dinner (Day 1): Thyme Roasted Chicken Breast, Garden Salad, Coke and Chocolate Torte. ($31.00)  The side salad was basic iceberg lettuce.  The vegetable medley is most likely frozen and not fresh. The chicken and mashed potatoes were good.

Breakfast (Day 2 & 3): Scrambled Eggs and an Orange Juice ($10.75). It is a basic breakfast but filling.

Lunch (Day 2 & 3): Black Bean and Corn Veggie Burger (add cheese), Coke, Chocolate Torte ($22.50) The burger is a bit dry but the cheese helps add some moisture.

Dinner (Day 2):  Cubano Bowl, Side Salad, Coke, Chocolate Torte ($29.00)  The Cubano Bowl is a new item for Amtrak.  The photo doesn’t make the dish look particularly appetizing but the mangos and pepper hidden under the quinoa help add some flavor.  The same frozen veggies were added.

Had I not been in a sleeper, the cost of these meals would have been $151.50

Overall I felt that the qualify of the food is a step down from the food I had two years ago on the Coast Starlight.  This may be due to cost cutting by Amtrak or the start of the phase out of the Dining Car.

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