For those of you already tired of the D-Hall, there are numerous places in town to grab a modestly-priced meal. One of those places is the Comeback Café.

Located at 804 Commercial Avenue, the Comeback Café is a local coffee and sandwich shop with small-town charm. The shop overlooks a street corner in downtown Grinnell and its independent, local style is a nice contrast to the familiarity of typical coffee chains.

Owner Lisa Stewart founded the Comeback Café seven years ago.

“I actually worked in another coffee shop in town … that didn’t serve as many food items,” she said. “It was just a niche that I thought needed filled.”

Stewart combined her experience in the coffee shop with her other job as an owner of a gift shop, founding the Comeback Café, a unique store/restaurant combo.

“[The gift shop sells] country and rustic home décor, as well as jewelry and purses,” Stewart said.

Comeback Café is more like a Panera than a Starbucks due to its inclusion of both lunch foods and coffee. In addition to typical coffee shop offerings, the store sells various wraps, sandwiches, soups and salads that are perfect for a light meal. Stewart recommends the #16 Mandarin Chicken wrap, which includes grilled chicken, mozzarella, mandarin oranges, maple pecans, lettuce and raspberry cream sauce in a spinach wrap.

There are decent offerings for vegetarians as well; the Comeback Café makes veggie wraps, sandwiches and a garden salad. For dessert, the café sells buttermilk brownies, caramel apple nut pie and warm rice pudding.

The café also serves various coffee and non-caffeine containing drinks, including lattés, hot chocolate, smoothies, Chai tea, iced tea with flavoring and hot tea. In addition, the café sells coffee-based frappes, which come in a variety of flavors, ranging from the standard vanilla, mocha and caramel to the more unusual Heath and Red Velvet flavors.

Janet Ryan of Brooklyn, IA, and Linda Jack-Victor of Grinnell enjoy lunch at Comeback Cafe.
Photo by Jacob Salzman

For less than ten dollars, I bought a veggie sandwich with chips and a soft drink. The sandwich was a mix of cream cheese, Swiss cheese, tomatoes and cucumbers on wheat bread that managed to be tasty and fairly healthy at the same time. However, I noticed that some of the fancier coffee drinks and smoothies cost close to four dollars, which could be pricey for college students on a tight budget.

Nevertheless, the Comeback Café is worth a visit, and has a dedicated following of students, town members and others.

”Today there was a man from Ames in here saying that he eats here every time he comes to Grinnell,” Stewart said.

In addition, “college students that have graduated and moved away come in and always have a number two whenever they’re in town,” Stewart said.

So if the thought of standing in the pizza line makes you feel weary, try the Comeback Café for its light fare and unique beverages—and some of the other local businesses that Grinnell has to offer.