The folks at Café Stella have taken up the craft cocktail craze with Bar Stella, a den of exposed brick that feels like a Baja-Californian guesthouse furnished with Caribbean-style furniture. The would-be owners are collectors of exotic bird and tiki art, and it seems they up and left in the midst of a renovation—modern dark paneled wood moldings meet a wall long overdue for a paint job. You might pass right by—the door is a bit concealed along the wall jutting out on the corner—but double-back and grab a seat along the back wall where you can sip away at well-mixed drinks, imaging what inspired the art behind the bar.
Drink this: Try the signature cocktails like the smoky Sophia ($14), made with Del Meguey Vida mescal, Campari, agave and fresh lime juice, or an improvised drink—you name the spirit and the bartender will do the rest. We said gin, which inspired a citrusy twist on what was reminiscent of a Hemingway, topped off with a splash of absinthe over cucumber in a merry coupe for $13.
Good for: Pre-dinner drinks or coming down from your caffeine high from nearby Intelligentsia. The enclosed outdoor patio is great for small groups and locals who drop in, creating the perfect, intimate neighborhood cocktail joint.
The bartender says: The bartenders sport well-fitted, white club jackets straight out of Rick's Casablanca.
The scene: Folks don’t come here to get trashed; they're a lively bunch all about to break into the industry at any moment. Gents do chic T-shirt and jeans casual, ladies sport cocktails dresses and after work bar-goers make for a less-shaggy Eastside crowd.
The playlist: A mix of hip-hop and Al Green fill the room but doesn't overwhelm conversation, making for a good date-spot.