After more than a decade serving globe-trotting sandwiches on fluffy fresh bread from a food truck, the Dining Car has laid down permanent roots in Newton Highlands. Boston’s go-to for sandwiches, crispy fried cauliflower, and full-service catering opened its doors as the Dining Car Cafe and Market on Tuesday, March 15, in the former Bread and Chocolate space at 4 Hartford Street.
“People know us for our sandwiches after all those years on the street, but your space is so constrained in an 8x16-foot box,” co-owner David Harnik says.
With 2,250 square feet of light-flooded space, Harnik and business partner Naomi Klein have expanded the menu to include more sandwiches, salads, and plenty of baked goods.
“We have a beautiful bakery program, so in the mornings there are fresh muffins and scones and cinnamon buns. In the afternoon, it’s cookies and cupcakes,” Harnik says. Though the Dining Car served baked goods for catering events, it’s not something they ever offered through the window of the food truck. “That’s something people don’t think of with the Dining Car.”
Importantly, the fan-favorite buttermilk-marinated fried chicken tenders are now a permanent fixture on the menu in both sandwich and plate form, among other former specials and catering hits. Meanwhile, the Chinese roast pork sandwich on garlic bread with sauteed mustard greens and spicy sesame mayo, formerly only a catering option or special, was the most popular sandwich on opening day.
The nutty, corn flour-dusted crispy cauliflower with curry aioli, a standard on the menu since the very beginning, is making a return after the pandemic forced a hiatus.
The tidy new space, after a hefty renovation, has walls bathed in dusty blue and lined with colorful cookbooks. “It has a little bit of a modern French bistro theme,” Harnik says. There’s room for about 40 people inside the casual, counter-service cafe. Soon, a patio with an additional dozen seats will open.
“Yesterday was our quietest of quiet soft openings. We didn’t tell a soul and we got crushed. It was very satisfying to have that happen.”
The Dining Car is open for breakfast and lunch. Plans for brunch and evening pop-ups are in the works.