Model trains greet guests at the front door of the Train Place Deli, and then chug along tracks over trestles to the rear of the restaurant where they round a mini reproduction of the historic Felton Flume and Lumber Company. The owners know that visitors initially come to see the trains, but believe that they return for the food.
This bright deli, with clean white walls and spotless carpets is a museum of sorts; housing a collection of railroad advertising posters, oil cans, lanterns, and even a small cast iron caboose stove, c. 1915. Thomas the Tank Engine pulled a circus car around the layout of a small town. These G-gauge, or garden-sized collectibles are large; their scale 1/20 to 1/32 of the real thing. The layout with its expertly made scenery takes up more than 500 square feet.
I ordered my sandwich at the counter and took a seat trackside on a wooden bench reminiscent of those in a train station waiting room. A train travel documentary played on the big screen television, the soft clickety-clack of the wheels made me feel like I was on board.
The Reuben Sandwich ($7.85) was served with a fork for good reason. Pink pastrami fell from between the slices of large, toasted, caraway-studded bread, which was spread with tangy dressing. This was a two-hand sandwich. Its crisp, sour white cabbage sauerkraut and the sheet of soft Swiss cheese played nicely with the well-seasoned meat.
Kids’ meals ($4 to $5.75) include sandwiches, burgers, dogs, chicken strips, and even macaroni and cheese. Each comes with chips, a kid-sized soda and a cookie. The Train Place Deli is the ideal location for a birthday party or end-of-the-season celebration.
The Train Place Deli, 1820-F 41st Ave., Capitola, 475-0150. Open Monday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Closed Sundays. Visit trainplacedeli.com.