A neighborhood tradition to close down: Picá del Huaso Carlos

For more than 100 years the Picá del Huaso Carlos has wet the lips and filled the stomachs of neighbors, workers, passersby, and, more recently, students in Barrio Yungay and Estación Central. Unfortunately, the days of this traditional picá (a local spot to eat and drink) are coming to an end, as the bar is due to be torn down in October of this year.

Photo by Jorge Rosales
Photo by Jorge Rosales

Located on the corner of Calle Esperanza and Calle Romero, this picá first opened as a Chichería (a place that sells Chicha, an alcoholic drink made by fermented grapes in Chile and fermented maize in Perú) by its original proprietor Carlos, a native of the south of Chile.

At the age of twenty, Carlos Cárdenas, grandson of the original Huaso Carlos, took over the place, and has been running it for over 52 years.

Don Carlos Cárdenas, grandson of Huaso Carlos. Photo by Jorge Rosales
Don Carlos Cárdenas, grandson of Huaso Carlos. Photo by Jorge Rosales

Don Carlos, now aged 72, remembers that 20 to 30 years ago Cueca singers and musicians would play from night till dawn and couples would dance the night away. Live music can no longer be played as the place doesn't have the now-required municipal permits.

Photo by Jorge Rosales
Photo by Jorge Rosales

Regardless, the bar fills up with patrons who come to drink Chicha, Terremotos, Pipeño and wine, enjoy Chilean homemade fare like Cazuela, Mechada, Porotos con Riendas and Charqui, and share with friends, colleagues and neighbors.

Photo by Jorge Rosales
Photo by Jorge Rosales

Not much has changed inside through the years. Decorated with old styled signs, paintings of Cueca musicians and dancers, and chandeliers hung from its high ceilings, La Picá del Huaso Carlos is not only a local bar in Barrio Yungay, but, in the words of Don Carlos, is a part of Santiago's cultural and bohemian history, akin to El Hoyo and La Piojera.

Photo by Jorge Rosales
Photo by Jorge Rosales

Don Carlos has tried to buy the building on many occasions, but always ran into problems with the owners. He was recently informed that the property had been sold to a Chinese company that plans to raze it and build a warehouse. This is why they have an eviction notice for October 2015, which Don Carlos, optimistically, doesn't think will be put into effect until sometime in 2016.

Photo by Jorge Rosales
Photo by Jorge Rosales

Neighborhood organizations are gathering signatures to present to the National Monument's Council to expand the area that now encompasses the Zona Típica of Barrio Yungay to include the streets the Picá del Huaso Carlos is located on.

So, visit one of Santiago's oldest bars, bring your friends, have a Terremoto or two, or more, enjoy the atmosphere, and don't forget to sign the petition book to keep it open for another 100 years (there is no online petition, the place is old school).

How to get there:
Picá del Huaso Carlos
Esperanza 33, corner of Romero
Metro Line 1, Estación Unión Latinoamericana

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