Food trucks might be honking their way all over the city but you’ll have to hustle out west to find Sydney’s only diner in a train carriage
It’s a dream come true for father and daughter team George and Francesca Papas, who converted the decommissioned train carriage into an American-style diner. A Melbourne train car was chosen over a Sydney one because of its longer length and single-decker set-up. It took a heavy-duty crane to position the carriage, now permanently parked on the corner of the Hume Highway and Cabramatta Road.
Most carriage's fittings are original, from the leather straps hanging overhead to the seats (re-upholstered) along the edges. Old movie posters and vinyl records plaster the carriage walls and there’s a vintage jukebox ($1 a play) with classics from Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly and Elvis. You can even sit in the driver’s seat at the front and play with all the controls. Go on. You know you want to.
Service is all smiles – George mans the grill and Francesca is a cheerful sight on the floor. The crowd is mostly young adults, families or curious locals. You won’t need a train ticket but you will need to wear loose pants – the servings are yabba-dabba-doo American-sized.
The menu is mostly drawn from burger territory, spanning the standard hamburger to the monster-sized Step-A-Side Burger groaning with two hefty 180-gram patties. You can mix things up with a veggie burger, barramundi burger or the wagyu steak burger, but it’s the roo burger that’s been a surprise hit with locals. Beetroot is an option with everything – anything less would be un-Australian.
The po’ boys are big enough for two, served on a nine-inch baguette that either comes with chorizo or prawn, a cheeky mix of fresh prawns with frozen school prawns. The hot dogs ($5) are also massive. A creaming soda spider will take you straight back to childhood, or share a chocolate milkshake just like in the movies.
Finish on a sweet note with fluffy, golden, freshly made waffles, a peach Melba or the perennial crowd favourite, the banana split. It’s covered with sprinkles, slivered almonds, chocolate syrup and a cherry on top, of course.
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