That old train station in Madeira seemed like it was destined for abandonment. With the passenger trains long gone, the eateries and shops that opened inside ended up arriving and departing at regular intervals. But then Choo Choo’s pulled in. The kitschy train atmosphere and American standard menu have been a good fit for the historic structure, as well as a nice addition to the handful of quirky little eateries that Madeira has become known for. At one time, the train station was the epicenter of Madeira, the place where everyone came and went. Once again it’s hoppin’ with a nice selection of diner classics, a few modern twists and the triple chocolate brownie for dessert. Dinner includes an upgraded meatloaf made with 100 percent Angus beef or oven-roasted turkey (made daily in their kitchen), breaded pork chops, and fish done a few trendy ways. There are grilled sandwiches, Angus burgers, and a collection of salads to round out the menu. They don’t serve breakfast during the week, but they offer a solid morning menu on Saturday and Sunday that includes omelettes, which are kind of a specialty. Choo Choo’s has a lot of railroad memorabilia and nostalgia on the walls, including an electric train that circles the dining room. It feels well-worn, like the place was never anything else, which is one of those things that makes a dive a dive. Choo Choo’s is pricier than many of the places I normally cover, but the home-cooking is deeply satisfying. The service can be slow, but is always friendly. And what’s a little wait in a train station?
Prices: $7–$25. Lunch and dinner Mon–Fri; breakfast, lunch, and dinner Sat & Sun.
Originally published in the July 2011 issue.
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