All aboard the barbecue train

Palouse Caboose offers house smoked meats, locally-sourced beers, good times



Customers enjoy food and beverages at the Palouse Caboose Bar and Grill on Nov. 16, 2021, in Palouse, Washington.


In downtown Palouse, Washington, a gigantic red building that sits on the corner of Main Street is home to some of the best barbecue in the region.

Palouse Caboose Bar and Grill is a locally-owned barbecue joint that opened in May 2015. Owner Kim Rundle said that after a tavern burned down across the street from where Palouse Caboose currently is, she and her husband decided to open up a new bar.

Rundle said the building has a garage door that they open up in the spring and summertime, making it an open-air restaurant. Their patio outside is dog-friendly and has multiple picnic tables, giving it a family barbecue feel. 

Rachel Persell, front of house manager, said the Palouse Caboose team is a very tight-knit group. She called it a “family,” rather than an average restaurant work team. 

“We’re all really close and everybody’s opinions matter,” she said. “We like to run the place [with] a mutual respect for one another, and it helps us have a really good time while utilizing all of our individual skills.”

Their menu consists mainly of house-smoked barbecue meats, Rundle said. They smoke brisket, pulled pork, pulled chicken and turkey on their big smoker that they call “Black Betty.”

They also have a variety of different sandwiches and barbecue platter options to go with it, she said. Some of their homemade sides include mac and cheese, baked garbanzo beans, soups and corn salad. 

Rundle said their offset smoker, “Black Betty” sits next to the patio so people can enjoy the smell of barbecue smoke while they dine. 

They try to keep their fresh cocktails as housemade as they can, she said. They make all their seasonal syrups in-house and squeeze their own lemon and lime juices. 

Rundle said Palouse Caboose sources their beer from around the Pacific Northwest and strives to keep it as close to home as possible. Some of their nine taps feature Hunga Dunga Brewing Company, Paradise Creek Brewery and Georgetown Brewing Co. 

She said they have a fun bar scene for those who like to party every once in a while, but they also work to make farmers and families feel as comfortable as possible. 

“The regulars are who keep us afloat,” Persell said. “I would say probably eight out of 10 people that come in are people that come in the door we know by name, so that’s a really big thing and it makes us stand out from other restaurants.”

Rundle said the tavern welcomes families, people with dogs and people from all demographics and walks of life. 

She said they have been known to host events such as trivia night, live music on the patio, sip and paint, as well as catering events for those who want to rent out the building. 

They are closed on Sundays and Mondays, so the building sits vacant, she said. However, they have created a space for people to come and have a personalized event planned for them on days they are not open. You can rent a bartender, pick menu items and employees will serve you.

Rundle said one of her favorite parts of owning Palouse Caboose is the ability to be able to meet all of the different people who visit the tavern. They get a lot of travelers, motorcycle groups and photographers that also go to the restaurant. 

“[It’s] kind of cool hearing people’s different stories and why they’re there,” she said. “I think that’s a really rewarding thing.”