In 1867, George Pullman, famous for his railroad sleeping cars, introduced the first railroad car designed and built for the sole purpose of preparing and serving meals on a moving train, akin to a full-service, sit-down restaurant.
Before dining cars, a train passenger’s only meal option was to patronize one of the “water stop” roadhouses, where fare typically consisted of rancid meat, cold beans, and old coffee.
By the mid-1880s, dedicated dining cars were a normal part of long-distance trains.
As competition among railroads intensified, dining car service reached new levels. When the Santa Fe Railroad unveiled its Pleasure Dome lounge cars in 1951, it introduced the traveling public to the Turquoise Room, promoted as "the only private dining room in the world on rails."