Recommended San Telmo Café: La Poesía
I’ve finally found a beer made in Argentina that I could drink all night: The red lager made by La Poesía, an historic and rather bohemian wood-clad café in San Telmo.
I have a vague recollection that the brand name is Balón, literally meaning “balloon.” An appropriate name: Both brews I sampled were thin and light. The rubia was too thin, however, and not very flavorful. My friend and I switched to the roja after the first round.
The red lager, on the other hand, developed into a medium-bodied beer immediately after the first sip, despite an unimpressive beginning. Served icy-cold and with an icy, fast finish, I could have easily drank a few more pints than the 5 I did down. (My reference point is easy-to-drink, yet still full and complex Czech beer. I’ve tasted no beer in Argentina to equal that standard, however.)
Still, La roja was a very welcome change from sour Quilmes Cristal, my beer of no-choice at the hostel, and even more enjoyable than Antares Kölsch, previously my favorite beer to accompany drunken pool and cruising at Gibraltar and La Puerta Roja.
The menu at La Poesía is extensive, but it’s really just variations on standard Argentine fare: sandwiches de lomo, pastas caseras, parrillas, and a very welcome selection of picadas. Una picada is a selection of finger-foods, appetizers, delicatos, and entreés served on a tabla, a wooden tray with carved-out nooks for the tasty bits and pieces, including an Argentine version of ceviche, cured meats, savory cheeses and palmitos.
But really, after the beer, the ambiance is the second most attractive part of this café. Deep, dark, brown, rich, with both history and flavor. Each table bears a brass plaque indicating who expounded there, spoke poetry there, or otherwise held artsy court. Drinking a beer or sipping a coffee in La Poesía, it’s hard not to think of that past, speculate on some other future, but mostly enjoy the vertical moment in the recognition of both.
That is, the essence of poetry.
Expect crowds on Sundays during the Market, as it’s just off the main drag in San Telmo; but this popular, reasonably priced café is busy most days and at most times.