5 videos of model trains serving up restaurant orders
August 31, 2016 7:28 PM   Subscribe

Exactly what it says on the tin. Model trains delivering food! Let's start with Prague's Výtopna restaurant; more below.

Fritz's Railway Restaurant, Kansas City, MO (complete with genuinely charming local news anchor banter!)
The Choo Choo, Des Plains, IL (wherein a member of the waitstaff yanks the train whistle in time with "Happy Birthday")
2Toots Train Whistle Grill, Glen Ellyn, IL (a commercial of some kind! Quick cuts! Delighted kids! A jaunty tune!)
Iron Horse Restaurant, Seattle, WA (1971-2000, RIP Old Seattle; bonus shot of the Kingdome!)
posted by duffell (20 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
This place is about 5 minutes from where I live. I haven't been there. I really should go.
posted by SisterHavana at 8:17 PM on August 31, 2016 [1 favorite]

Shinkansen sushi
posted by Rash at 8:18 PM on August 31, 2016 [1 favorite]

I loved Iron Horse Restaurant so very much as a kid.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 8:38 PM on August 31, 2016 [2 favorites]

I begged my parents to take me to Iron Horse! I don't think we ever actually went there.

Some day, all memories of freight trains will be forgotten, and yet kids will still inexplicably love train themed merchandise.
posted by miyabo at 8:46 PM on August 31, 2016 [1 favorite]

I know it's a gimmick that probably covers for mediocre food.

I don't care. Shut up and take my money.
posted by ocschwar at 8:48 PM on August 31, 2016 [3 favorites]

In Portland we have Sushi Takahashi III (view from the train.) and Sushi Ichiban (formerly Sushi Takahashi II!) The original restaurant "The Takahashi I" has a train but it runs along the ceiling and is less of a suhi bar than the other two it spawned.
posted by vespabelle at 8:51 PM on August 31, 2016 [2 favorites]

Came by to add Iron Horse vids, delighted not to have to. Can't believe that place has been closed for 16 years!
posted by mwhybark at 9:03 PM on August 31, 2016 [1 favorite]

Due to a train fanatic child I have experienced every train restaurant in the Chicago area, including the ChooChoo, 2Toots, and the All Aboard Diner in Downers Grove. The food isn't bad, they all seem to do the smashburger style of food. 2Toots even carried Bill Kurtis' Tallgrass Beef.

One amusing thing the ChooChoo has is a framed 1955 letter from Ray Kroc, claiming the ChooChoo had a better concept than the drive-in he had opened on the other side of town 4 years after the ChooChoo. His store didn't have any indoor seating.
posted by JoeZydeco at 9:07 PM on August 31, 2016

What is it with the Chicago area and these train diners? Choo Choo Johnny's in Frankfort was my first experience; a place for the kids to have fun and not so much experience culinary highlights. In the same strip mall, however, is Chef Klaus Bier Stube which has some great German food and live entertainment on the weekends.
posted by newper at 9:27 PM on August 31, 2016 [1 favorite]

Well I know what I'm doing with my kids the next time we visit my parents!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:52 PM on August 31, 2016 [1 favorite]

I have several hundred feet of g-scale track, engines and at least one flatcar.

Despite this, I have yet to convince my wife that it would enhance the resale value of our house to have a built-in food train between the kitchen and dining room.

Sometimes I don't understand the world.
posted by madajb at 11:25 PM on August 31, 2016 [7 favorites]

Fritz's is the best. It is the best. The best. Don't go to the one in the mall. Go to the original one, not in the mall. When you're a kid, all of the adults exaggerate how fun/magical things are going to be at whatever supposedly fun/magical place you'll be going, either because they don't know it's an exaggeration, or they don't care, and then it's always ALWAYS disappointing because the thing is obviously fake in some way they didn't mention. Like, a train never *actually* delivers the food to your table, because it's a lady dressed like a train, or there is only a broken down, tiny model train that used to run around a track that is kind of near the window where the waiters pick up your food from the kitchen. But then, when you are like 30 years old, you go to fucking Fritz's, and it's pure spiteful delight. Because you were *right* to think they were idiots or assholes. Because now there is a fucking train delivering your food to the table, after you ordered it over the goddamn food-ordering telephone that is mounted to your table. Telephone!
posted by unknowncommand at 11:45 PM on August 31, 2016 [3 favorites]

I once went to a sushi restaurant in the suburbs of Brisbane, Australia; it had a train (a large one, the locomotive being a bit larger than a small dog) around the bar, pulling flat-bed trailers bearing the typical colour-coded sushi plates. Though one thing that bugged me is that the train was a replica of an American train (the locomotive was a Union Pacific one), a lack of attention to detail that was doubly jarring at a Japanese restaurant. (Had it been a Japanese train, or an Australian one for local colour, it would have made more sense.)
posted by acb at 4:15 AM on September 1, 2016

I love how, in that first link, that party of eight takes so long photographing their ales that they have to scramble to grab them as the train departs, followed immediately by a scene where a hand reaches into the tunnel to steal a beer off a train headed for another table.

Fun times.
posted by Short Attention Sp at 5:09 AM on September 1, 2016 [2 favorites]

I love all of these but they've got nothing on Valkanvania.
posted by ian1977 at 5:46 AM on September 1, 2016 [2 favorites]

Ahh man, totally remember going to the Iron Horse before Mariner games. It was great, thanks for the clip!
posted by KingBoogly at 7:28 AM on September 1, 2016

newper: What is it with the Chicago area and these train diners?

Assuming "Chicago is the most important railroad center in North America" has something to do with it.

My children are not complaining, and neither am I. :)
posted by hankscorpio83 at 12:28 PM on September 1, 2016

When I was a kid our dentist used to have a track around the walls up near the ceiling. There was a chute down from the track near the front desk, and at the top of the track was the base from a log dump car set. The thing was out of commission half the time but when it did work he'd load up the dump car with your new toothbrush and then run the train into the front waiting area, loop it around, and then your toothbrush would get knocked down the chute.
posted by ckape at 12:49 PM on September 1, 2016

When I was growing up in Greenwich Village in the 1960s there was Burger Train on Greenwich Avenue. Same idea.
posted by QuietDesperation at 3:52 PM on September 1, 2016


I just went there two weeks ago with my boys. We agreed that we have outgrown the key demographic of 3-6 year olds, however here's a secret - beyond the 30's era gimmick they make a really good, steak hache style grilled dinner style burger and a top notch shake. Whoever owns it now has looked after it really well

Its a rite-of-passage in my family, by age 4 you are taken to the Choo Choo and to Wrigley Field. Its hard not to keep going back to both.

Also, re Ray Kroc- the first MacDonalds is very very near the Choo Choo. Family trivia for us, is that he was desperate to buy land off my grandpa for the 3rd or 4th McD and mistook my grandpa's stubbornness for negotiation. Ray's final offer was to cut him in as partner and early franchisee, which was refused. Oh well.
posted by C.A.S. at 6:38 AM on September 2, 2016

« Older Ask Uncle Phaedrus   |   But *everything* in New York is loud... Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments