This was an example of those few “obligatory visits” on our trip. The choo choo was one of those restaurants we heard about that used some specific gimmick to attract new customers. Most of these places are disappointments, relying on these “visual tricks” to keep your mind off the sadly cooked slop, the accumulating grease and dirt or the lack of service, and allowing them to stay open well past their staleness date.
When we rolled up to this, starving after a failed visit to the gated and locked First McDonald’s Museum down the street, we were hoping only for a reasonably priced, filling meal. Saying we were suprised by the line of soccer moms and kids streaming out of the entrance would be an understatement.
As we’d learned the hard way from past visits to food fests, always look for the line. The crowd almost never lies. But, we’ve never been too trustworthy of the soccer mom types – they ARE single handedly keeping minivans on the streets (well, them and leering strangers stashing candy I guess). So we were surprised, but still skeptical.
Once we got in we found ourselves seated at the service bar and noticed the model train track running only inches in front of us, we shrank three full feet and craved a milkshake and french fries. We were kids again, and surrounded on all sides by at least 20 legitimate children and their parents.
We spent about five minutes oohing and ahhing over the cafe’s decor before our waitress, who struck us less as a choo choo waitress and more as a patient kindergarten teacher, came to get our drink orders. With an average of three little hellions per mommy, the latter related skill sets seem to be a requirement, and she matched the job description to a “t”.
That’s when another waitresses pressed the play button on a poppy rendition of “Happy Birthday,” which is still stuck in my head. The blue locomotive engine came rambling around the corner with two “train cupcakes” topped with white frosting, multi-colored sprinkles, a toy train whistle and lit candle (surely some kind of fire hazard!). Every tiny head popped up to see who the lucky customer was. I’ve never wished it was my birthday so badly!!
We ordered the veggie burger with fries and a milkshake. This wasn’t simply some greasy spoon; the food was great! The wow factor of the trains was only further supported by the quality of the food, the service and the cleanliness. Of course, we also ordered two of the signature homemade cupcakes, and though they were delicious, I made Victoria regret the decision by testing out the train whistle for an hour on the ride home.
The Choo Choo is a required road trip for anyone with children, anyone who loves trains, or most surprisingly, anyone who likes diners – this is a unique one and it will make you a kid again.
NEW VIDEO ADDED!