2019: The Trolley Car has closed. 🙁
The Trolley Car diner feels like a vintage diner that has been here forever, but it has only been nestled in the crook of Germantown Avenue since 1999.
Owner Ken Weinstein and his partners had a 1951 Mountain View diner (originally from Wilkes Barre, PA) moved to this location, and a few years later added an actual 1948 trolley car to the parking lot. In the warmer months they sell ice cream (Nelson’s a Mod Betty fave local brand) and coffee (La Colombe, a Retro Roadhusband fave local brand) from the trolley car.
Upon entering, you’ll see that this is a lot more going on here than just the vintage diner. One of those more unique things you’ll notice is the extensive beer selection in the to-go area, with over 400 brands to choose from. Note, I did not count them all, so don’t hold me to that exact number 😉
Due to the wackiness of the Pennsylvania liquor / beer distribution rules, it isn’t often easy to find a place to just pick up a six-pack, so this is a nice addition; not only for neighbors but also for “diner diners” who want to sample a local brew along with their meal (and maybe take some to-go when they leave!)
In the vintage diner proper you’ll see that the pink neon accent on the ceiling highlights the maroon-hued booths and stools, and warms up the black and white checkered floor. If you arrive with a larger group there also is a dining room off to the side with booths and tables to accommodate you.
The menu is deep and steeped in the diner tradition with updates to appeal to the modern palate. For example, their chicken croquettes are described as “our creamy blend of chicken, sherry, garlic and shallots fried in golden pyramids and served on a bed of mashed potatoes.” There are paninis, vegetarian offerings, quesadillas, cocktails, steaks, burgers. Something to please just about everyone, even those who purport to not care for “diner” food. The prices are a bit higher than some folks may be used to in diners, but with an emphasis on using local suppliers, those dollars go back into the community.
While the menu is extensive Mod Betty often rationalizes that “life is short – eat dessert first!” like it is printed on their menu. I am a fan of the warm donut bites with vanilla sauce. Perfect as a sweet side at breakfast, an afternoon pick-me-up with tea, or as one of their many dessert options. Yum!
A family-friendly part of the neighborhood, they have summer outdoor movies, raise money for local schools and offer fundraising for small organizations. Heck they even have a ping-pong league! From the saving of an old diner to the varied menu options, room for groups to sit and all ’round community vibe, this is a diner with heart.