Brown Bagging It for Lunch, the Island is Your Patio

If you sit down for lunch at a restaurant on the island, most sandwiches will be approaching $20; add a drink and tip, and you get the picture. The price is not a criticism; you should see what these places pay for rent. 

There is the restaurant’s atmosphere, the banter with friendly staff, and a nice view if you’re lucky – these are all part of the draw. I love getting out of the house for lunch, but these prices make doing so prohibitive, bordering on wasteful. What if I told you some of the best sandwiches in town don’t come from a restaurant, and the best seat in the house is always available? 

I am talking about brown bagging your lunch and eating it in one of our ten parks, twelve city blocks of grassy median running down the middle of Orange Avenue, or our world-renowned beach. The best seats in Coronado are free of charge.

Brown bagging it starts with a brown bag.

There are a lot of places to grab a sandwich to go, but for this article, I wanted to kick it old school, take a trip down memory lane and revisit some places I used to grab sandwiches as a kid in high school. The two that came to mind and are still here are Central and Park Place Liquor. These delis are where you would grab a sandwich before heading to the beach or hanging out in the median for lunch, a practice I don’t see much of anymore.

I started at Central Liquor & Deli (corner of Orange and Second), and it didn’t disappoint. It had been a long while since I had been there, so I asked the guy behind the counter what the most popular sandwich was. He said, “The California if you want it cold and the Giant Hot Pastrami if you want a hot one.” I went the cold route and ordered the California and said yes to jalapenos. This is a solid sandwich.

The California sandwich at Central Liquor & Deli.

I posted up at one of the tables out front to eat my sandwich. Within minutes a classmate of mine, Kirk Horvath (CHS ’87), rounded the corner, and we immediately began discussing our friends that had worked in the deli during high school. Kirk swears by the Tuna Melt.

Not five minutes went by before another alum, Kathy “Nichols” Jennings (CHS ’80), yelled at me out of the window of her moving car, “Did you get the Giant Pastrami?” She has since told me that back in the day, the Giant Hot Pastrami and root beer were “the best hangover cure ever.” For those of us that grew up in Coronado the ’80s, it often felt like one big hangover, cures were sacred. Mine was a root beer float from Baskin-Robbins. 

The next stop was Park Place Liquor & Deli (corner of Orange and Park). I have fond memories of this spot from high school. My then-girlfriend, Lindsey Palmer (CHS ’87), used to work for the Flower Lady. I would grab a sandwich at Park Place before I helped her pack up the stand and push it down Inez, where the cart lived during off hours. Years later, Lindsey bought and ran Stretch’s, another beloved sandwich spot that is sadly no longer with us. 

The BLT from Park Place Liquor & Deli, notice the crumbly bacon.

My usual order at Park Place is the BLT. While there are many different styles of bacon for a good BLT, the kind they use at Park Place differs from what you would find in most restaurants or at home. This bacon comes pre-cooked and is heated for service; this is not a bad thing, quite the opposite. These slices are paper thin, and they pack it on this sandwich, it crumbles with every bite.

The Italian Sub at Park Place with maybe the best table on the Island.

I have also tried the Italian Sub, which was another great sandwich. I ordered mine with no mustard or mayo, just Italian dressing. Maybe it’s just me, but in my world mustard and mayo have no place on an Italian Sub.

When ordering a sandwich out, always ask if there is anything else they would suggest on the sandwich you ordered, regardless of where you are. The ladies at Park Place finally asked me if I wanted onions and jalapenos on my BLT; it is now my standard order, so good! Also, be bold and ask what’s popular; at Park Place, El Diablo is the most ordered sandwich.

Whatever you choose, you won’t have to look far for a great seat. A few picnic tables are across the street next to the fountain behind the Coronado Flower Lady.  This spot is truly one of the best seats on the island.

When lunch is over, consider buying some flowers for someone. The best flowers are the ones you give and receive for no particular reason. 

Regarding sandwiches you can eat on the go, these two places have a nice selection but there are many more places that do a great job, Avenue Liquor (corner of Orange and Ninth), Boney’s Bayside Market (100 block of Orange) and many more; shop around and find your favorite. Get out and enjoy all the parks and beaches Coronado has to offer.  Brown bag it for the win; see you out there. 

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Clyde Van Arsdall