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A Visual Tour of 35 Literary Bars and Cafés from Around the World

Drink Where Your Favorite Writers Once Drank

By Emily Temple, February 9, 2018. In lithub.com

In our habitual fantasies, writers do nothing but sit at small café tables, sometimes meeting with their friends, other times gazing wistfully into a pint or swirling an espresso before they scribble down their latest brilliant thought. It may have worked for Hemingway, but I’m here to tell you: that’s not usually what writing looks like. But hey, it’s Friday. So what better time to indulge our daydreams and salivate over a few of the bars and cafés that famous writers frequented in days of yore? I mean, writerly fantasies aside, I wouldn’t mind reading for a while in any one of these. Of course, this is nowhere near a complete list of every place a famous writer ever drank—not least because in the interest of avoiding the New York/Paris/Dublin trap, I’ve limited the choices to one per city—so feel free to add on to the list. Now, without any further ado: 35 literary watering holes in 35 cities. Which one would you visit?

Café Tortoni

Café Tortoni

Café Tortoni

Ramon Corvera

Café Tortoni, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Address: Av. de Mayo 825, 1084 CABA, Argentina

Literary Pedigree: Jorge Luís Borges and modernist poet Alfonsina Storni were frequent visitors in the ’70s, and they’re still there, in wax figure form, at Borges’s regular table, hanging out with Carlos Gardel.

The George Inn
National Trust/Michael Caldwell

The George Inn, London, England

Address: Borough High Street, London, SE1, United Kingdom.

Literary Pedigree: Charles Dickens drank here (and he refers to it in Little Dorrit); so did William Shakespeare (although the actual building he frequented was burned down).

vesuvio

Justin Goldman

vesuvio

Konrad Glogowski

vesuvio

SF Weekly

Vesuvio Café, San Francisco, California, USA

Address: 255 Columbus @ Jack Kerouac Alley, North Beach, San Francisco, California

Literary Pedigree: Just across the alley from Lawrence Ferlinghetti‘s City Lights bookstore (said alley was renamed “Jack Kerouac Alley” in 1988), Vesuvio was a Beat hotspot, the favorite haunt of Jack Kerouac (obviously), Neal Cassady, and Allen Ginsberg.

El Floridita

Amy Goodman

El Floridita

Tzooka | Dreamstime

El Floridita, Havana, Cuba

Address: Obispo 557 esq a Monserrate Habana Vieja, Havana 10100, Cuba

Literary Pedigree: The first of many places on this list that Ernest Hemingway frequented—it was just down the street from the hotel where he kept a room for years, but even afterwards, he’d take Martha Gellhorn there. A life-size bronze statue of Papa still sits at the bar, listening for good dialogue. Ezra PoundJohn dos Passos, and Graham Greenewere also patrons.

Romanisches Café
Romanisches Café

Bildarchiv Foto Marburg

Romanisches Café, Berlin, Germany

Address: Budapester Str. 47, 10787 Berlin, Germany

Literary Pedigree: After opening in 1916, this café-bar quickly became a regular meeting place for Berlin’s intelligentsia, including Bertolt BrechtJoseph Roth, and Erich Maria Remarque. The whole building was destroyed in a 1943 air raid.

Café Haiti

David Block

Café Haiti, Lima, Peru

Address: Diagonal 160, Miraflores Lima 18, Peru

Literary PedigreeJulio Ramón Ribeyro was a regular here.

The Barley Mow

The Barley Mow, Dorset, England

Address: Long Ln, Wimborne BH21 7AH, UK

Literary PedigreeEvelyn Waugh took rooms here while he worked on his first novel, Decline and Fall—and spent no little time in the pub downstairs.

Caffé Pedrocchi

Sailko

Caffé Pedrocchi

Telegraph

Caffé Pedrocchi, Padua, Italy

Address: Via VIII Febbraio, 15, 35122 Padova PD, Italy

Literary Pedigree: The café’s proximity to the University of Padua made it a frequent haunt of students and intellectuals, including Lord ByronStendhal, and Dario Fo.

Donzoko

Donzoko, Tokyo, Japan

Address: 3-45-3 Yushima, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo

Literary Pedigree: Takes its name from the Japanese title for Maxim Gorky’s play The Lower Depths, and was also a favored watering hole of Yukio Mishima (though it sounds like Mishima drank in quite a number of bars).

deux magots

Parisianist

deux magots

Parisianist

Les Deux Magots, Paris, France

Address: 6 Place Saint-Germain des Prés, 75006 Paris, France

Literary Pedigree: Paris is filled with literary cafés (La Rotonde, Dingo Bar, Le Procope, Café de Flore, etc. etc. etc.) but since I can only choose one, it will have to be Les Deux Magots, arguably the most famous, and as far as I know the only café with its own literary prize. Famous for being frequented by Verlaine and RimbaudSimone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre, as well as Ernest HemingwayJames JoyceAlbert CamusBertolt BrechtJames BaldwinChester HimesRichard Wright, and even Julia Child.

woody creek tavern

Rob K/Gone Adventuring

woody creek tavern

Rob K/Gone Adventuring

woody creek tavern

Rob K/Gone Adventuring

The Woody Creek Tavern, Aspen, Colorado, USA

Address: 2858 Upper River Rd, Woody Creek, CO, 81656

Literary Pedigree: The favorite bar of Hunter S. Thompson, who lived nearby. The bar’s regulars report frequent appearances by “Hunter hunters” on a pilgrimage—and that they like to give them the wrong directions.

sloppy joe's

Duval Street

sloppy joe's

Duval Street

Sloppy Joe’s, Key West, Florida, USA

Address: 201 Duval Street, Key West, FL 33040

Literary Pedigree: This is the site of the annual Ernest Hemingway look-alike contest—though the Sloppy Joe’s the author actually visited is down the street, and renamed Captain Tony’s Saloon. Still, tourist dollars are tourist dollars.

Literaturnoe Kafe
Literaturnoe Kafe
Literaturnoe Kafe

Ninaras

Literaturnoe Kafe (Wolff et Beranget Confectionery), St. Petersburg, Russia

Address: 18, Nevsky Prospekt, St. Petersburg

Literary Pedigree: Another restaurant with a wax effigy of a literary legend: this time it’s Aleksander Pushkin, sitting at a table by the window. It’s fitting: this spot, then a candy shop-cum-Chinese café (whatever that means), was where Pushkin met his second and had his last meal on the way to the duel that would kill him. Mikhail Lermontov and Taras Shevchenko were regulars. It’s also where Fyodor Dostoyevsky met Mikhail Petrashevsky for the first time, ultimately joining his utopian socialist circle.

Liguanea Club

Trip Advisor

Liguanea Club

Trip Advisor

Liguanea Club, Kingston, Jamaica

Address: Knutsford Boulevard, New Kingston, Kingston 5, Jamaica, W.I

Literary Pedigree: Ian Fleming spent a lot of time here after establishing his estate in Jamaica, and it just so happens to be the inspiration behind the Queen’s Club in Dr. No.

Cervecería Alemana

Alice Silver

Cervecería Alemana

Alice Silver

Cervecería Alemana, Madrid, Spain

Address: Plaza Santa Ana, 6 28012, Madrid, Spain

Literary Pedigree: You have to drink somewhere after the running of the bulls. In a piece in a 1960 issue of LIFE magazine, Ernest Hemingway called it “a good café and beer place on the Piaza Santa Ana in Madrid which I had frequented for many years.”

Caffé Giubbe Rosse

Sailko

Caffé Giubbe Rosse

Caffé Giubbe Rosse, Florence, Italy

Address: Piazza della Repubblica, 13/14r, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy

Literary Pedigree: Where all the Futurist poets used to hang out. See also.

Café Bräunerhof

Andreas Praefcke

Café Bräunerhof, Vienna Austria

Address: 01, Stallburggasse 2, Vienna, Austria

Literary Pedigree: The favored drinking hole of Thomas Bernhard.

the frolic room

Urban Adventures

the frolic room

Spectra

The Frolic Room, Los Angeles, California, USA

Address: 6245 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028

Literary Pedigree: Reportedly one of the many places in L.A. that Charles Bukowskiliked to get drunk.

Centrál, Budapest
Centrál, Budapest

Hartyányi Norbert / We Love Budapest

Centrál, Budapest, Hungary

Address: Karolyi utca 9., Budapest 1053, Hungary

Literary Pedigree: The favored café for the staff of Nyugat, Budapest’s most influential literary magazine, as well as a watering hole for Hungarian authors Géza Gárdonyi and Ferenc Molnár.

Antico Caffé Greco

Travel + Leisure

Antico Caffé Greco

George Terezakis

Antico Caffé Greco, Rome, Italy

Address: Via dei Condotti, 86, 00187 Roma RM, Italy

Literary Pedigree: Famous for serving coffee to a slew of artists, philosophers, and other luminaries, the literary of which included: Johann Wolfgang von GoetheLord ByronPercy and Mary ShelleyJohn KeatsNikolai Gogol, Nathaniel HawthorneMark TwainHans Christian Andersen, and Stendhal.

Café A Brasileira

Tiffany Devoy

Café A Brasileira

DIMSFIKAS

Café A Brasileira

Nol Aders

Café A Brasileira, Lisbon, Portugal

Address: R. Garrett 122, 1200-273 Lisboa, Portugal

Literary Pedigree: Another hotspot for intellectuals of all stripes, including the novelist Aquilino Ribeiro and the poet Alfredo Pimenta, but the most famous denizen must beFernando Pessoa, who still sits outside, forever in bronze. (Apparently the secret is that his favorite café was actually somewhere else.)

Zonars, Athens

Zonars Archive

Zonars, Athens

Yiorgos Kordakis

Zonars, Athens

Zonars Archive

Zonars, Athens, Greece

Address: Voukourestiou 9, Athina 106 71, Greece

Literary Pedigree: In the 1930s, many writers and other intellectuals stopped here while traveling through Greece, including Jorge Luis BorgesHenry MillerLawrence Durrell and Evelyn Waugh.

Pasticceria Caffe Pirona

Betta27

Pasticceria Caffe Pirona

MissClaire

Pasticceria Caffe Pirona, Trieste, Italy

Address: Largo della Barriera Vecchia, 12, 34129 Trieste TS, Italy

Literary Pedigree: Rumor has it that James Joyce worked on Ulysses in this café—rumor has it he wrote the opening pages there, standing up—but either way, he definitely frequented the place, as he lived across the street for two years. Italo Svevo and Umberto Saba were also patrons.

The Eagle and Child
The Eagle and Child

Tom Murphy VII

The Eagle and Child, Oxford, England

Address: 49 St Giles’, Oxford OX1 3LU, UK

Literary Pedigree: Where J.R.R. TolkienC.S. Lewis and the rest of their writers’ group, the Inklings (who knew they could be so corny), had weekly lunches for many years—in the private lounge they called the Rabbit Room.

Café a Porta

Christian Bickel

Café a Porta, Copenhagen, Denmark

Address: Kongens Nytorv 17, 1050 København K, Denmark

Literary Pedigree: Hans Christen Andersen lived above the café for three years, and was a regular; after he’d moved out, Karen Blixen frequented the spot as well.

The Elephant House
The Elephant House

Joannna Travelling

The Elephant House, Edinburgh, Scotland

Address: 21 George IV Bridge, Edinburgh EH1 1EN, UK

Literary Pedigree: This café is famous for being the place where J.K. Rowling started writing the first Harry Potter book—but as it opened in 1995, but that fact seems rather up for debate. The fans have accepted it as a place of pilgrimage, however, something the management does nothing to dissuade. Ian Rankin and Alexander McCall-Smith have also had their tea there.

cafe louvre

Prague Stay

cafe louvre

Jan Prerovsky

Café Louvre, Prague, Czech Republic (or Café Monmarte)

Address: Národní 22, 110 00 Nové Město, Czechia

Literary Pedigree: Franz Kafka (and his BFF Max Brod) used to eat here. See also: Café Monmarte.

Carousel Bar at Hotel Monteleone
Carousel Bar at Hotel Monteleone

Carousel Bar at Hotel Monteleone, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA

Address: 214 Royal St, New Orleans, LA 70130

Literary PedigreeAccording to the Monteleone’s websiteWilliam FaulknerTennessee WilliamsTruman Capote, Ernest HemingwayEudora WeltyAnne Rice and Rebecca Wells all stayed at the hotel and drank at the bar—and Capote even used to claim, over drinks, that he had been born there. “He wasn’t,” the hotel assures us. “Though his mother lived at the historic hotel during her pregnancy, she safely made it to the hospital in time for Truman’s debut.”

Mellqvist Kaffebar

My Nordic Food Tales

Mellqvist Kaffebar, Stockholm, Sweden

Address: Rörstrandsgatan 4, 113 40 Stockholm, Sweden

Literary PedigreeIn his Millennium trilogy, Stieg Larsson gave Mikael Blomkvist his own favorite coffee shop. It’s located just below the offices of Expo, the magazine where Larsson was editor from 2004 until his death (another detail he gave his characters).

Nowa Prowincja

Kawiarniany

Nowa Prowincja

Kawiarniany

Nowa Prowincja, Kraków, Poland

Address: Bracka 3-5, 31-005 Kraków, Poland

Literary PedigreeReportedly a favorite spot of Nobel Prize-winning poet Wisława Szymborska and a revolving cast of other Polish writers, including Czesław Miłosz.

Ritz-Carlton, Boston

Boston Literary District

Ritz-Carlton, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Address: 15 Arlington St, Boston, MA 02116 United States

Literary PedigreeSylvia Plath and Anne Sexton used to meet at the hotel bar for martinis (usually at least three) after their poetry seminar with Robert Lowell. Tennessee Williams is also rumored to have written parts of A Streetcar Named Desire at the bar. (It is now the Taj Boston.)

Grand Café, Oslo

Bjørn Erik Pedersen

Grand Café, Oslo

Grand Café, Oslo, Norway

Address: Karl Johans gate 31, 0159 Oslo, Norway

Literary PedigreeAccording to the restaurant’s website, this was once Henrik Ibsen‘s daily lunch spot. Also, not for nothing, they say that “Edvard Munch once offered to swap the painting “Sick Girl” in return for 100 steak dinners.” I hope they took that deal.

Grogan's Castle Lounge

Irish Times

Grogan’s Castle Lounge, Dublin, Ireland

Address: 15 William St S, Dublin 2, D02 H336, Ireland

Literary PedigreeAlmost every bar in Dublin is a literary bar. But I’ve heard that this bar, in addition to being a favorite of Flann O’Brien‘s, is where the literary dudes still hang out, so that pushed it over the edge. See also: Kennedy’s, Davy Byrnes, Brazen Head, The Palace Bar, etc.

The White Horse Tavern
The White Horse Tavern

Ephemeral New York

The White Horse Tavern, New York, New York, USA

Address: 567 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014

Literary PedigreeThere are a zillion literary bars and cafés in New York City to choose from—but we can only put one here, and for my money, the White Horse is the most famous. After all, it’s where Dylan Thomas drank himself to death. On the other hand, James BaldwinNorman MailerAnaïs NinHunter S. ThompsonJack KerouacJohn Ashbery, and Frank O’Hara all made it out more or less alive. See also: Elaine’s, Cedar Tavern, Algonquin, Chumley’s, Pete’s, etc. etc. etc.!

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