Although plenty of diners can boast the look of an old-fashioned diner, the best part about the Trolley Car Diner is that it has the personality of a classic greasy spoon as well. You can tell that most of the customers are regulars and at lunchtime on any day of the week, you can find the counter stools stocked with a mix of young and old hunkered down over a plates full of grits, burgers and meatloaf. Despite the continued road construction along Germantown Ave., this diner will make the extra travel time worth your while (don’t worry, there’s visible detour signs directing you straight to the diner’s parking lot).
The Trolley Car, which began in 2000, already has a storied past. The original diner was trucked in from Wilkes Barre, to much fanfare and their rooftop sign claims to be the largest animated neon sign in the city. On Sundays, breakfast at the Trolley Car is a popular neighborhood tradition and it will take about 15 to 20 minutes to get a table. But with relatively quick service, diners move through their meals fast. The extra friendly local crowd will help past the time and you’ll probably strike up great conversation while sitting in the small lobby booth awaiting your table.
Breakfast dishes include honey buckwheat pancakes ($6.95), golden malted Belgian waffle ($4.95) and smoked fish platters such as kippered salmon served with a bagel, cream cheese, lettuce, tomato, olives, cucumbers and capers ($10.95). The Trolley Car gets bonus points for sticking with diner convention and offering breakfast all day.
The lunch menu is equally enjoyable. For instance, the roasted summer vegetable quesadilla ($9.95) includes tons of roasted zucchini (so delicious that even non-zucchini fans will appreciate) yellow squash, peppers and onions in a crisp tortilla with a light topping of white cheddar and subtle black hummus (all of the flavor of black beans without the mess of whole beans). The portobello melt ($8.50) is also a good pick and comes with caramelized onions, roasted red peppers and provolone cheese.
Have fun with the hot appetizer menu, which includes outrageous onion petals ($4.95) served with a homemade spicy dipping sauce (far better than those made by any chain), basket of whiz fries ($2.75) and perfectly seasoned mozzarella sticks ($6.95) served with a wine-infused marinara sauce.
To add a little funkiness to the dining experience, the kid’s meal is presented on an old time Fisher-Price View Master (remember these from when you were a kid?) that shows all available dishes in glowing 3-D.
The service at the Trolley Car is passable. Waitresses sometimes forget things and aren’t overly personable, but then again maybe it’s all part of the diner appeal. If you do require some extra sweetness, get your fix at the Trolley Car’s adjacent Ice Cream Shoppe, which is an old trolley car dishing up water ice and ice cream with an outdoor picnic area overlooking Germantown Ave.