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Trolley Car Diner – Philadelphia, PA

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A dose of nostalgia with a side of modern complacency.

Trolley Car Diner – Philadephia, PA
7619 Germantown Avenue
Meal: Lunch / 230p
Price: $23 (For Two – Includes Tip)

My girlfriend and I recently made a trip up to beautiful Chestnut Hill, and passed the Trolley Car Diner on the way. The stage was set. We knew we’d be hungry later, and hell, who can really resist eating in a diner shaped like a trolley car?

You’d have to be fairly preoccupied to miss the diner on Germantown pike. Settling at the bottom of a hill, it’s fairly accessible from both sides of traffic and is within walking distance to the nice shops of the Chestnut Hill area (we walked from the Borders about a mile or two back). The outside, as you can see in the photos, is modeled after a Trolley Car and may, in fact, be a hallowed out car converted for the purpose of restauranteering (anyone feel like confirming?). There also appears to be a smaller trolley parked up front that is used for ice cream sales in the summer. The whole area is covered by trolley tracks and above-head wiring systems. The route was discontinued in 1992, though, so don’t expect to see the real thing.

The inside of the Diner is split between the true ‘trolley car’ front of the restaurant, which in only functional condition, and an expanded rear that has a full deli and much nicer comforts. We were seated, thankfully, towards the more pleasant-looking area. The area was of fair cleanliness, but there was plenty of room for improvement. The diner had a good mix of patrons; we saw plenty of younger and older people from different walks of life.

Our waitress was pleasant, but slow. We waited a while for refills on our water/coffee and she didn’t visit us even once to ask us how the meal was. We tried a turkey club wrap and a sundried tomatoe panini. Both were presented surprisingly well (see photos). At about $9 a clip, they weren’t cheap, but the side salad that came with the wrap made it feel more like a entree. Autumn’s panini came with some really tasty kettle-cooked chips. We thought the taste and quality of the lunches were above average, and would return to try some other stuff. Presentation is important; it doesn’t cost anything extra to arrange food a given way, but it sure does influence how we perceive a place.

Trolley Car Food

Trolley Car Food

They have a vast selection of milkshakes (not tried due to the fact that it was nearly freezing when we went) and feature a new one each month. They tried to promote a local coffee company, but even after asking for the premium ‘bucks county’ coffee item I think I still received (and was charged for) the cheaper generic counterpart. Overall, though, a lackluster waitress didn’t deter me from wanting to visit sometime again. 


– Generally well-presented and good tasting food
– Extensive menu
– Trolley concept is unique and historical


– Waitress service was underwhelming
– Slow bus service to clear tables/debris


Trolley Car Exterior

Trolley Car Exterior

Guru’s Score: 3.3 Chews
Subjective rating: Not a bad lil trolley.

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