In a society where sitting down to chat seems passé, there's an oasis between the Bellas Artes and Lastarria neighborhoods where the focus is simply to chat.
Photo by Maria Paz Castillo
Dubbed a "conversería," the theme of Café Julio is just that: to converse. Of the four tables in this Turkish cafe (though the owner Julio is not in fact Turkish), the biggest is where Julio’s closest friends sit. While there are clearly many of those, since they go in and out at different hours, no one is ever left out.
At the table you'll also find Julio, a real character who says that the café's motto is “this is where the customer is WRONG.” With that, you get the picture.
But that’s not all. If you're adaptable, you can easily jump in on the current topic of conversation. You don’t need to be an erudite or even a great listener here, because it isn’t a show where you merely watch what’s happening or just listen to what others are saying. Here the idea is to talk.
There are always instigations, sarcasm or a story that can oftentimes be a lie. If mythical tall-tale folklorist Pedro Urdemales gave out degrees in folklore, Julio would have received a doctorate with honors. There’s always a joke, a tale (perhaps invented), a memory of something that doesn’t exist, or simply Julio’s constant flirtation.
If you’re sensitive, thin-skinned or take things seriously, I don’t recommend going, because you’ll likely have a bad time. However, if you’re looking for a place to relax, laugh, lose track of time or just enjoy yourself without any alcohol, then this is the place. Or, if you want a nice coffee, empanadas made “with love,” or even to play the guitar and talk about anything that’ll allow others to interact with you, you’re also set.
Aside from the coffee, you might even get addicted to chatting itself, a pastime in danger of going extinct. Take a deep breath, because while the place is also more than cheap, you don’t win anything by running in. Forget your watch and cell phone and bring your best attitude to this cool conversational spot.
And take note: whatever you're told, the stairs do lead somewhere (actually, the bathroom). It’s a lie that they have no end, lead you to man-eating dogs, or who knows what else.
Merced 372 (between Jose Miguel de la Barra and Lastarria)
Phone: 832 0310
Translation by Revolver Staff