Little Red Caboose Café
795 Peace Portal Dr
Tues-Fri 8:30 AM - 3:30 PM
Sat-Sun 8:30 AM - 3:00 PM
Photo Credit: Bud Hardwick
From the street, the Little Red Caboose Café appears to be a small coffee shop set up in an old railroad caboose; a pleasant little diversion for those visiting Blaine. Not so. Visiting the café for the first time, you’ll be treated to several surprises, all of them good.
First, it’s not really a caboose. While anyone other than a serious railroad enthusiast would see this as a caboose it is sometimes referred to as a “cupola.” Rather than riding the tail end of the train where most of us expect to see a caboose, the cupola often rode somewhere near the middle of the long line of railcars. From this position, guards stationed to protect the train and its contents could more efficiently move to either end of the train as they were needed. Above you, the windows lining the elevated section of the car were the guard’s lookout posts.
Secondly, the food is not what you might have expected. No burgers, no fish & chips. While there are usually a nice selection of baked goods, the breakfast and lunch dishes are cosmopolitan and much more interesting. The menu tends to be short but the variety offered allows for care and individual attention to be focused on each of the dishes. While no children’s menu is provided, the staff will be more than happy to adjust their dishes for the little ones. Along with year-round favorites you’ll find seasonal variations: lighter and more vege oriented in summer and heartier dishes in winter. A fun tie-in with the local scene is the inventive naming of many of the paninis and sandwiches: Peace Arch Rueben, The Plover (boat ferry from Blaine to Semiahmoo, see article this website), and the Rail Stop. While at first glance this may seem like a tourist oriented establishment, you’ll soon notice the many locals stopping by enjoying their favorite espresso drinks or dishes as much as catching up on all the local news and happenings.
For ambiance and seating there are more surprises. Playing softly in the background you’ll notice music from the 1920s through 1940s reflecting the history of the cupola. Inside there are small tables in an intimate setting but the real surprise is the deck. This may be the only place along the waterfront in Blaine where you can get an outside seat with service overlooking the water. Wanting more realism, all you have to do is wait for the occasional Amtrak train to pass. Close your eyes for a moment and imagine that it’ll snatch you up as it rumbles by.
You can’t miss the “caboose” on the waterside of Peace Portal Drive in downtown Blaine. If driving north on I-5 take the last exit (# 276) before the border.
Breakfast | Espresso | Lunch | Outdoor seating
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