Two St. Pete newcomers mix food and drink with retail under one roof

Annex 400 Beach and Bartique have continued the region's fondness for fusion.

click to enlarge Yellow umbrella-shaded patio furniture beckons passersby to the newly opened Annex 400 Beach. - Meaghan Habuda
Meaghan Habuda
Yellow umbrella-shaded patio furniture beckons passersby to the newly opened Annex 400 Beach.

Tampa Bay, and St. Petersburg especially lately, sure do like their food, drink and retail mashups.

Look no further than downtown St. Pete's Annex 400 Beach, a super-duper stylish cafe that opened its doors to Beach Drive on March 1. Its the latest project for restaurateur Steve Westphal, who's behind Parkshore Grill, 400 Beach Seafood & Tap House, The Hangar and other area dining spots.

As the casual walk-up cafe's name alludes to, Annex is at 400 Beach Drive NE, just a storefront away from its older sibling 400 Beach. But this isn't your ordinary spot for all-day breakfast or a latte. Annex has filed its multipurpose downtown digs with home decor, its own brand of $22 salt scrub, bags of Kahwa Coffee and other gifts, plus colorful local art that seems to decorate every inch of its walls.

Highlights include baked goods like croissants and muffins; bottled beer, wines by the glass and local craft beer on tap; sandwiches, gluten-free waffles and egg souffles for breakfast; soft-serve ice cream, milkshakes and hurricanes that blend your choice of toppings; to-go snacks; daily rotating flavors of iced tea and lemonade; and a cooler of chilled packaged beverages like kombucha, wine and water — the latter of which should prove particularly handy for folks strolling Beach Drive as the weather starts to warm up outside.

There's also a solid selection of sandwiches that are more fit for the lunchtime crowd, including a pressed Cuban, vegetarian option that presses a cup of spinach artichoke dip between Cuban bread, and the Chicago-style Beach Dog served all the way and on a poppy seed bun. Oh, and if you want to camp out and eat under the shade at North Straub Park across the street, Annex serves what it calls "picnic boxes." Yep, you heard that right. Portable items like rice and bean bowls and salads that can be enjoyed takeout-style.

Good luck choosing, y'all. The cafe, which features plenty of indoor and outdoor seating, operates from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

Bartique has similar booze-meets-retail idea on the 600 Block. The new downtown St. Pete "bar-infused boutique" at 648 Central Ave., where Foolish Pride Tattoos used to be, specializes in fashion for women and men, accessories and art alongside adult beverages.

Patrons are invited to bring their pups and sip its small-but-mighty selection of draft wine and beer from Bay area breweries such as Rapp, St. Pete Brewing and Coppertail. Happy hour spotlights $5 pours of both offerings, too.

Bartique is open, but its formal grand opening, where guests can enjoy food and Corrine Oliviia's live tunes while celebrating, is planned for 5 p.m. March 25.