Located in a small turn of the 19th century building, La Poesia San Telmo is known as a bona fide literary venue or a “cafe de arte” where artistic souls have met for decades to toast the writers of Buenos Aires. The cafe was founded in 1982 by a journalist and poet, Ruben Derlia, and La Poesía quickly became “la esquina de encuentro” where the artists and thinkers of San Telmo would regularly meet to discuss and critique the various topics of the week.
 
Since its inception that cafe endured quite the tumultuous history. In 1988 it was closed and nearly forgotten up until the 1990s when numerous entrepreneurs tried and failed to successfully occupy the local. The cafe was then forever immortalized in the 1992 song, Lulú, written by the Uruguayan poet and lyricist, Horacio Ferrer. Horacio met his wife at the cafe, impelling him to write a song about the encounter. La Poesía permanently reopened in 2008.
 
f567e64941b8dc2358a3c5047882786a
 
My friends and I were introduced to the bar by a gringa who we had met on the street. We had been shopping for hours in the famous San Telmo district and were craving for a good “non-touristy” meal. The gringa, who was studying in Buenos Aires for the year, suggested La Poesía for its relaxed atmosphere and interesting historical background.
 
ee4759825b204ea98b78c5aab2f5dbf5 
As we entered the cafe, we noticed that La Poesía has certainly remained faithful to its roots. The locale has preserved its traditional tiled floor and dark wood bar while the shelves are filled with books and artifacts. The walls of the second floor are also adorned with black and white portraits of some of Buenos Aire’s notable artists and literary figures. As we sat down, we noticed the groups of young people huddled around each table sharing a beer and talking intently amongst themselves. It seems that even after more than 30 years, La Poesía was the ideal meeting place the various artists and students of the barrio.
 
The bar is about literature, art and conversation; unfortunately the food does not match the vivid history and decor of the bar. It is indeed comprehensive but lacks creativity; I would recommend the cheese and meat platters as they also come with a pint of handcrafted beer that is brewed on the premises. I had the croque monsieur type sandwich and it was quite ho-hum. It was good but not delectable – in the end you don’t come to the bar for it’s food! One more tip: bring cash! 
 
1a7f07c183056e2c3a8817ef93f8ccc9
 
The vegetarian platter – it was great and came with a pint of beer
 
802fdd0c793365d4d71b49ab45090b77
 
In reality, travelers do not go to La Poesía for the food. During the weekdays the bar is full of couples sipping wine, writers anxiously scribbling notes and groups of friends in the midst of a thrilling debate. During warm weekends the bar also has tables lined alongthe sidewalk that allow for perfect people watching as you sip a coffee or take a sip of a beer that has been brewed on site.
 
It is certainly a place where travelers can experience the culture of Buenos Aires and maybe even meet some of the original Argentine writers and artists that frequented the bar over 30 years ago.

 

La Poesía
Chile 502 (corner of Bolívar)
San Telmo
Tel: 4300-7340
• Hours: Sun — Thur: 
8 a.m. – 2 a.m.
—Fri & Sat: 
8 a.m. – 4 a.m.
• cash only
• wifi