Make us your home page

Cafe Del Mar brings Ibiza cool to St. Petersburg's Central Avenue

Cafe Del Mar is situated in an open-air walkway between Mastry’s and the former Central Cafe & Organics on Central Avenue in St. Pete.
Luis Santana/tbt*

Cafe Del Mar is situated in an open-air walkway between Mastry’s and the former Central Cafe & Organics on Central Avenue in St. Pete. Luis Santana/tbt*

Although I can't be sure, I suspect that one of St. Pete's newer cocktail lounges, Café Del Mar, was named after the café of the same name in Ibiza, Spain. That bar, opened in 1980, is famous for its music compilations of "chillout" m usic — mirroring the tunes heard at the café itself — and its panoramic sunset views. The name alone evokes images of relaxing at a beachside café, sipping cocktails and listening to a hip, loungy soundtrack.

The St. Pete Café Del Mar is a bit different, though I feel the name is more than coincidental. Opened last year in the spot formerly occupied by the quirky beer and wine bar Green, Café Del Mar is also a laid-back kind of lounge, where you might indeed sip a nice cocktail and listen to some chilledout music. But this is St. Pete, so it's just as likely that your trip to the local Café Del Mar will consist of craft beer drafts and live music, or DJs spinning club music.

Café Del Mar also has a look and feel tailored more for a nighttime crowd, with hours to match (on weekdays, it opens at 7 p.m.). In contrast to its verdant-hued predecessor, everything at Café Del Mar is a seductive red, from the light glowing behind the flat-screen TVs embedded into a long wooden panel on the wall opposite the bar, to the backlit bottles of liquor behind it, doubly illuminated by a large, red lantern.

The bar is situated in an open-air walkway between Mastry's and the mysteriously shuttered Central Café & Organics, which up until a few months ago was providing tapas and other light fare to customers at Café Del Mar. The interior is small and intimate, with brick floors and brick walls, a short bar and a few tables opposite. Ceiling fans overhead keep it breezy even on warm nights.

Most of the seating at Café Del Mar is on the sidewalk out front, in what I think is the largest outdoor patio on Central. This area is filled with café tables, wicker sofas and lounge chairs with plush orange cushions, and low tables situated between them. In my opinion, this is Café Del Mar's strongest asset — an area to chill out and watch the people go by that wouldn't seem out of place in Ibiza.

Of course, Café Del Mar does open early on the weekends — at 11 a.m. We've been having some awfully pleasant weather lately, and it almost seems criminal not to spend at least a portion of it sipping cocktails in an outdoor lounge on Central Avenue. Whereas Green only served beer and wine, Café Del Mar stocks a full liquor bar, so your afternoon bloody mary, mimosa or Americano requests can easily be fulfilled.

Speaking of cocktails, Café Del Mar also has another strong asset in bartender Jamie Lachenal, formerly of The Garden, two doors down on Central. Jamie works evenings three or four nights a week on average, but he's one of the more knowledgeable and experienced bartenders in downtown St. Pete. While you can easily get a nice cocktail any night of the week (or day, on weekends), it's worth stopping by to have Jamie recommend a drink for you.

The bar also stocks several good beers, including a rotating draft list of six beers that currently features Sweetwater 420 Extra Pale Ale, Pensacola Bay Lighthouse Porter, Kona Coco Brown, Goose Island Honker's Ale and Woodchuck Amber Cider.

Whether you'd prefer a cool, hip place to hang out and listen to music on a weekday night or an afternoon chillout spot where you can chat with friends and sip a cool cocktail, Café Del Mar is worth a look. And while the sunsets may be obscured by downtown office buildings, I think this Café Del Mar shares some of the appeal of the Ibiza café and bar of the same name. —

Café Del Mar

243 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg; (727) 824-0881

The vibe: A small walkway beer and cocktail lounge with a large Central Avenue patio.

Booze: Beer, wine and liquor. Beer, $3-$5; wine, $6; liquor, $5-$14. There are different specials each night of the week, such as "Two's-days," featuring $2 select domestic bottles, $2 whiskey cocktails and 2-for-1 calls; or $4 Absolut flavors and $3 Fireball whiskey shots on Mondays.

Specialty: There's no specialty cocktail list, and the beer and wine menu is not especially extensive, but there are several interesting spirits that you won't find at most other area bars. For example, the bar stocks gin, vodka and white whiskey from Death's Door, a Wisconsin distillery that sources nearly all of its ingredients from nearby Washington Island; Asbach Uralt, a full-bodied, robust, and fruit-forward German brandy; and a couple of highly rated Canadian whiskies, such as Pendleton and Caribou Crossing Single Barrel. All of the above will do quite well for afternoon sidewalk sipping and late-night lounging alike. When in doubt, just ask your bartender what's good.

Hours: 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. Monday through Friday; 11 a.m. to 3 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Cafe Del Mar brings Ibiza cool to St. Petersburg's Central Avenue 03/14/13 [Last modified: Sunday, March 17, 2013 12:37pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Glen Campbell's wife Kim discusses challenges, guilt caregivers of Alzheimer's patients, others face

    Life Times

    If there's one thing Kim Campbell would change about caregiving for Alzheimer's patients, it's the attitude so many of us have toward transferring a loved one from home to a long-term care facility. According to Campbell, it's often the most kind, loving decision you can make. It's not a sign of failure, but one of …

    Kim Campbell, wife of country music legend Glen Campbell, is acknowledged by those attending the free event where she shared the story of her personal journey with Alzheimer???‚??„?s disease and the struggles she faced caring for her husband on Friday (5/26/17) at the Suncoast Hospice's Empath Health Service Center in Clearwater. Empath Choices for Care, a member of Empath Health, and Arden Courts Memory Care hosted the free event where Kim shared her story to help others understand the early stages, how the disease changes lives, the challenges families face and the role of caregiver.
  2. What happened when I took my dad to a Pitbull concert

    Music & Concerts

    TAMPA — "So, you know how you like Pitbull?" I asked my dad. "We can see him."

    Selfie of Divya Kumar and Anand Kumar at Pitbull/Enrique Iglesias concert.
  3. Tampa City Council votes to accept travel invitation from Cuban ambassador


    The invitation came to Tampa City Council chairwoman Yvonne Yolie Capin in a June 9 letter from Cuban ambassador to the United States José Ramón Cabañas Rodriguez.

    The Tampa City Council voted 6-0, with Frank Reddick out of the room, to respond to a travel invitation from Cuban ambassador to the United States José Ramón Cabañas Rodriguez.
  4. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for June 25


    St. Pete Pride Festival: The daytime festival covers Central Avenue's Grand Central District with more than 350 vendors, multiple stages, live music, art and food. 9 a.m., Grand Central District, 2429 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. Free. (727) 342-0084.

    Kristen Whalen poses for a photo before the start of the St. Pete Pride Parade in St. Petersburg last year. It's that time of year again, so check with us for your planning purposes. [LUIS SANTANA  |   Times (2016)]
  5. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for June 24


    St. Pete Pride Block Party and Night Parade: St. Pete Pride's popular parade moves to downtown St. Petersburg's scenic waterfront. The block party brings DJs, food and drinks starting at 2 p.m. The parade steps off at Fifth Ave NE and Bayshore at 7 p.m. with fireworks at 9:45 p.m. 2 p.m., North Straub Park, Fifth …

    Thousands line the streets of Central Ave. during the St. Pete Pride Parade in St. Petersburg.  [Saturday, June 25, 2016] [Photo Luis Santana | Times]