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A refreshing escape to Calypso Café

The Coronado Cays fixture worth visiting by car, bike, or boat

A classy grab-and-go market and deli by the boats in Coronado Cays
A classy grab-and-go market and deli by the boats in Coronado Cays

For most of the county, the sun was out and temperatures rising. The predicted heat wave had settled in to cook away our customary June gloom. However, isolated on its narrow strip of land between the South Bay and Pacific Ocean, the Coronado Cays neighborhood remained cool, even breezy.

Place

Calypso Cafe

507 Grand Caribe Causeway, Coronado

It may not have been ideal weather for what most make their way down here to do — that is, splash and tan at Silver Strand State Beach — but proved the perfect climate for a ride Bayshore Bikeway, down the strand from Coronado proper, headed toward Imperial Beach. And the Cays proved the perfect spot to stop for lunch and refreshment.

Not that there are a lot of options. For the most part, Coronado Cays is a residential area, technically a gated community (though an open one) of condos and single-family homes, many of which boast their own boat slips along the small warren of canals characterizing the bayside neighborhood. Fortunately, the community’s lone one-stop shop for food and drink is a winner.

A market and deli counter with coffee, teas, wine, beer, and a host of specialty soft drinks

That would be Calypso Café. It started out as a mere coffee cart, caffeinating visitors to the small professional building at the center of the development. Over the past twelve years, it moved inside, took over dentist and architect offices, and evolved into a café, deli counter, and market serving anyone savvy enough to realize it’s here.

There’s not a convenience store for miles, so the market provides residents a handy spot to grab a coffee or tea, buy snacks, pick up a bottle wine, or find sundry items ranging from milk to olive oil. For thirsty bike riders, a cooler filled with single serve cans and bottles offers surprising variety, with specialty sodas including several root beer options, natural energy drinks, vitamin waters, CBD drinks, and sparkling yerba mates.

Eclectic furniture, artwork, and chandeliers make for memorable indoor seating.

But Calypso’s counter restaurant service is what truly makes it worth a stop. The deli counter’s menu highlights sandwiches, burgers, and breakfast fare, as you might expect from any neighborhood café. Just out the back door, shaded deck seating offers a scenic place to eat, overlooking a marina populated by small boats, backed by private homes and palm trees.

And if it’s too cool, the inside’s not so bad either. Eclectic dining furniture, artwork, and crystal chandeliers create a cozy, even romantic atmosphere you might not expect from any neighborhood café.

Mediterranean salmon salad

Thing is, Calypso offers meals to back that up. Because, in addition to breakfast and quick sandwiches, its kitchen produces a slew of Mediterranean and globally inspired dishes worthy of a lingering lunch or dinner outing, away from Coronado’s touristy downtown. You’ll spot a few preprepared items in the glass counter case: maybe baked cod over couscous, grilled sausages, roasted vegetables. Show up at the right time you might find one of the shop’s renowned lamb shanks. For $19, I ordered what turned out to be a fairly large half-chicken, beautifully roasted with herbs including rosemary and parsley, topped with some sort of a chili-spiced aioli.

Things get fancier closer to dinner time, but even sticking to the sandwich and salad menu, you’ll likely get more than you expect. I worried about overpaying for an $18 Mediterranean salad topped with salmon, but the generous portion of well-prepared fish made for a reasonable, inflation-era lunch.

Half roasted chicken

Calypso Café returned us to the bike path, well refreshed, and ready to burn off a more filling than expected meal. We won’t need the bike ride as an excuse to visit Calypso next time; more likely this sweet little eatery will become the excuse we need to go riding on the bikeway.

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A classy grab-and-go market and deli by the boats in Coronado Cays
A classy grab-and-go market and deli by the boats in Coronado Cays

For most of the county, the sun was out and temperatures rising. The predicted heat wave had settled in to cook away our customary June gloom. However, isolated on its narrow strip of land between the South Bay and Pacific Ocean, the Coronado Cays neighborhood remained cool, even breezy.

Place

Calypso Cafe

507 Grand Caribe Causeway, Coronado

It may not have been ideal weather for what most make their way down here to do — that is, splash and tan at Silver Strand State Beach — but proved the perfect climate for a ride Bayshore Bikeway, down the strand from Coronado proper, headed toward Imperial Beach. And the Cays proved the perfect spot to stop for lunch and refreshment.

Not that there are a lot of options. For the most part, Coronado Cays is a residential area, technically a gated community (though an open one) of condos and single-family homes, many of which boast their own boat slips along the small warren of canals characterizing the bayside neighborhood. Fortunately, the community’s lone one-stop shop for food and drink is a winner.

A market and deli counter with coffee, teas, wine, beer, and a host of specialty soft drinks

That would be Calypso Café. It started out as a mere coffee cart, caffeinating visitors to the small professional building at the center of the development. Over the past twelve years, it moved inside, took over dentist and architect offices, and evolved into a café, deli counter, and market serving anyone savvy enough to realize it’s here.

There’s not a convenience store for miles, so the market provides residents a handy spot to grab a coffee or tea, buy snacks, pick up a bottle wine, or find sundry items ranging from milk to olive oil. For thirsty bike riders, a cooler filled with single serve cans and bottles offers surprising variety, with specialty sodas including several root beer options, natural energy drinks, vitamin waters, CBD drinks, and sparkling yerba mates.

Eclectic furniture, artwork, and chandeliers make for memorable indoor seating.

But Calypso’s counter restaurant service is what truly makes it worth a stop. The deli counter’s menu highlights sandwiches, burgers, and breakfast fare, as you might expect from any neighborhood café. Just out the back door, shaded deck seating offers a scenic place to eat, overlooking a marina populated by small boats, backed by private homes and palm trees.

And if it’s too cool, the inside’s not so bad either. Eclectic dining furniture, artwork, and crystal chandeliers create a cozy, even romantic atmosphere you might not expect from any neighborhood café.

Mediterranean salmon salad

Thing is, Calypso offers meals to back that up. Because, in addition to breakfast and quick sandwiches, its kitchen produces a slew of Mediterranean and globally inspired dishes worthy of a lingering lunch or dinner outing, away from Coronado’s touristy downtown. You’ll spot a few preprepared items in the glass counter case: maybe baked cod over couscous, grilled sausages, roasted vegetables. Show up at the right time you might find one of the shop’s renowned lamb shanks. For $19, I ordered what turned out to be a fairly large half-chicken, beautifully roasted with herbs including rosemary and parsley, topped with some sort of a chili-spiced aioli.

Things get fancier closer to dinner time, but even sticking to the sandwich and salad menu, you’ll likely get more than you expect. I worried about overpaying for an $18 Mediterranean salad topped with salmon, but the generous portion of well-prepared fish made for a reasonable, inflation-era lunch.

Half roasted chicken

Calypso Café returned us to the bike path, well refreshed, and ready to burn off a more filling than expected meal. We won’t need the bike ride as an excuse to visit Calypso next time; more likely this sweet little eatery will become the excuse we need to go riding on the bikeway.

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