In just a minute, I’ll dish on cafés in Barrio Brasil, Santiago. But first, let me explain the title.
Nosecúanto is what the whaddyacallit of Chilean Spanish. You can use it for a person, Claudio Nosecuánto (Claudio whatshisname), for example. You can also use it for a place that you can’t remember the name of, Café Nosecuánto. Technically it may seem to you that this means “I don’t know how many” rather than “I don’t know what it’s called,” but for some (unknown?) reason, cuánto (how much?) is the word we use to indicate we don’t know the name of something. A friend, upon introducing herself as Sara was asked, “Sara cuánto?” (Lit: Sara how much/many?). And she first thought to say, “just one,” but luckily her host jumped in and saved her. Because here in Chile if someone says your name plus cuánto, they want to know your last name.
And now the aside ends, and I talk to you about cafés. The café culture here in Santiago is catching on. Maybe not quite in full swing, but the idea of going out with friends for a cup of coffee, rather than a beer, drink or ever-loving-sandwich is slowly catching on, and everyone and their cousin is thinking of opening a café. Where hopefully “café de la máquina” (espresso, coffee from the machine) will be served, and little cans of Nescafe will only hide in the back for grandmothers and others whose guatitas (tummies) cannot take the true hit of caffeine that comes only from a thick, rich, caffeinated espresso shot.
I hesitate greatly to do what I am about to do, as Barrio Brasil is not (yet) full of cafés, and my friend Rocío and I have recently had to abandon “el lugar de siempre” (the place we always go) due to crowds, loud music and substandard (even for Chile) pastries.
One day, as we tooled along Avda. Brasil, shunning our usual café, we came across a café, which for a while I thought of as Café Nosecuánto, until I later found out what it was called.
It looks like this (standard explanation, not my real camera, etc, applies)
And inside, it looks like this:
And what I am touting here is maybe not so much the coffee (which is just okay, though it is, thankfully, “from the machine,”) but the atmosphere. The architecture of this place is delicious, almost as amazing as the hot chocolate (for which you practically need a spoon), and the cakes (1800 pesos including coffee, less than 4 dollars even at the most awful possible exchange rates) will make you want to kiss your German grandmother, if you have one. It’s at Brasil 230, and is open from noon to 10:30 PM, most of the time.
I hesitate to tell you this, because “el lugar de siempre,” El Café, on the corner of Brasil and Huerfanos is already so crowded at night, and Café Patagonia (very good café helado, which is sort of a coffee icecream float) is closed at night (this, further down Avda. Brasil), and Café Tales in Plaza Concha y Toro is also not open late (though their merengue frambuesa makes taking a special trip there during the day totally worth it).
So on the one hand, I beg you to please not crowd Café Le Garage with people and chatting and taking up space and OMG the café cellphone talkers. On the other hand, I’m leaving town for a couple of weeks, so if you want to go check it out and support them so that they don’t close in my absence, that’d be nifty, too. And yes, they have WiFi.
Café Le Garage, Brasil 230 Tel. 696 25 31
And if any of you gringa types want to do a meetup at this or any other café after about the 9th of Dec, you know where to find me, and that would be spectacular.
3/23/2012 update: I don’t think this café is still functioning, have not seen it open in a while. If anyone knows anything for sure, please feel free to drop a note.