Farewell, Babalu: 4th Street burger joint officially closes in St. Petersburg

Yellow facade of a small burger joint in Florida

There are some serious food gems on 4th Street. the exciting sprawl of Central Avenue often makes diners forget of the institution’s outside of downtown. Harvey’s and El Cap are two of my personal favorite spots in the Sunshine City. Listen, one of my all-time favorite indulgences here is a cheeseburger, broccoli cheddar bites, mozzarella sticks and an over-sized coke from El Cap. It’s cheap, it’s tasty, and it fills me up. The same could be said for Babalu, a quaint joint at 9246 4th Street North.

Photo of a large cheeseburger with potato chips

The restaurant officially closed on January 9, much to the sadness of longstanding regulars. My go-to items here were the chicken fingers ($6.50), zucchini fries ($5.75), The Big Guy Cheeseburger ($7.35), The Patty Melt on rye ($7.75), and the hearty jumbo clam strips ($12.50). Babalu featured a pretty extensive wine and beer list, in addition to a full liquor bar.

The space was first developed in 1946 as a drive up food stand, and in 1955 the restaurant’s main dining room was added. The former owner, Chip, played pool at the 4th Street spot back in the ’70s before taking over in 1986.

Photo of a Bloody Mary bar

Babalu offered more than 100 food items on its menu, including the bar and restaurant’s famous chicken wings. No word yet on what will become of the space now that the Babalu has closed. My hope is something similar reemerges. I can’t imagine drive up/down 4th Street without that little yellow building entering my periphery.

Have you dined at the Babalu? Let us know your favorite dish in the comments below.

Need even more of an old school St. Pete fix? Check out our feature on Coney Island Hot Dogs and Skyway Jack’s.

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Written by Andrew Harlan

Andrew Harlan

Andrew Harlan is the Editor of ilovetheburg.com. Follow him on Twitter @harlanyoungII and Instagram @harlanyoung. Send tips and potential stories to info@ilovetheburg.com.