My kids spend their time after school at the Bean School of Dance, next door to Café Karibo on North 3rd Street, which is where I met my daughter, Abigail, for dinner recently. While Abigail finished up at dance, I decided to enjoy a nice grown-up beverage. Behind the bar at Karibrew, the brew pub attached to Café Karibo, was my old friend Michael—Kirky to everyone else in town—and, boy, can he make an Old Fashioned. The bourbon tasted like a big hug, with the vanilla notes coupled with the essence of orange and cherry making for a lovely break between shifts on daddy duty.
After moving to a table with my daughter, we got down to business. Abigail’s list of approved foods is only a couple of lines long. She’s a born vegetarian, which is fine except that there are only four vegetables she will eat. To my amazement, she agreed to try Karibo’s famous Veggie Burger. A serious compliment to the restaurant, she managed to eat half of it, sauce on the side of course. The burger is truly delicious all by itself, but I spread the guacamole and basil mayo on the remaining half and made short work of it. The richness of the mayo and avocado elevated the homemade veggie patty, taking it to a whole new level.
I started my meal with an order of Bam Bam Shrimp. These shrimp were lightly breaded, deep fried, tossed with homemade Bam Bam sauce, and served over shredded romaine with cranberries in a light vinaigrette. I enjoyed this appetizer so much a few weeks earlier that I couldn’t wait to try it again. I offered Abbie a bite, but was met with her signature eye roll. I mistakenly figured that since she was going out on a limb with the veggie burger, perhaps we could stretch her culinary boundaries a little further.
After thoroughly enjoying my appetizer, I opted to stay with shrimp for dinner and ordered the Chili Prawns. When I was in recently, I sat at the bar and a friend next to me ordered them and they looked like a hit. The Chili Prawns are indeed a hit, in fact a homerun with the bases loaded. Served with coconut rice and sautéed vegetables, the shrimp were large and sweet, tossed in a chili sauce that was delicious and not overly spicy, which paired well with the rice. I encouraged Abigail to try the rice, which she did with only a bit of reluctance: she shrugged her shoulders and looked at her phone. Chef, take a bow, that is high praise! I of course cleaned my plate without even a grain of the shoulder-shrugging rice left behind.
When our server, Joy, offered dessert, Abigail came to life. This child loves strawberry cake, and Café Karibo’s offering checked all of her boxes: it was beautiful, it had strawberries, and it was a large slice. It was truly delicious, and only one of the many homemade desserts available that night.
Café Karibo is a favorite spot for locals and is open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Saturday, Sunday for brunch, and lunch only on Mondays. It is located at 27 N. 3rd Street in downtown Fernandina Beach.