There could not be a better fit for East Nashville than Calypso Café at 301 Gallatin Road across from East Literature Magnet. It looks like an old-fashioned store, complete with raw wood and a corrugated tin porch roof. Inside, the restaurant seems to be run by multigenerational hippies who just happen to know West Indies-style cooking. Customers sit in plastic armchairs at plain tables; for those waiting for a to-go order, there is a re-purposed wooden church bench. You can also find racks of The Nashville Scene and The East Nashvillian.
The food and prices are perfect for sometimes cash-strapped East Nashvillians. Calpyso Café is a popular after-church venue among us. In fact, sometimes it is too popular for its dedicated parking lot, and this is the only complaint I could have.
The main dish is rotisserie chicken, which is served with a variety of sauces. Personally, I prefer the Jamaican curry – a pleasant blend of apples, onions, and spices that has the consistency of applesauce. There is a Jerk variety for those who like it hot. For these hot summer days, the Lite Tropical Chicken Salad with two sides is a real winner. This is a concoction of chopped chicken, pineapple, and raisins in a lite curry mayo on lettuce.
The sides are pure West Indies – Cuban black beans with red onions and sour cream (You can also get a Cuban black bean salad.), St. Lucian rice, orzo and basil salad, and Martinique Callaloo are just some of the choices. The Callaloo is a concoction of mustard greens, tomatoes, and onions, and I was amazed to see my son eating it.
Free drink refills are available – a must for me, and there are even a few desserts. For summer eating, try their Tropical Lime Pie or Blue Mountain Chocolate Mousse. These are frozen treats that slide down smoothly and taste wonderful. They also have some baked goodies that are available with whipped cream or for carry-out.
There are three Calypso Cafés in town, one at 3307 Charlotte and another at 700 Thompson Lane in addition to the East Nashville location. All three provide great food, and we East Nashvillians are very fond of our restaurant.