Americans take their coffee with milk and sugar,
Europeans might add some chocolate, and the Irish have been known to add a healthy dose of whiskey to their morning.
Photo courtesy of Adam Fuller
In Chile, you can get your coffee with legs. Known as “café con piernas” (literally, coffee with legs), this country's special coffee bars have an atmosphere that is just as important as the coffee.
Although the environment may appear a little sketchy from the outside, a slight detour into one of these cafés could just make your day. Ask any Chilean about these cafés and you are sure to get a wide range of responses.
The first thing you should know about these cafés is that they are neither bars nor strip clubs. They are usually open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and serve only coffee and juice, no alcohol.
As you pass the quintessential blacked-out windows, you may wonder what lies beyond the door. The moment you enter this coffee sanctuary, you will realize that you are not in Kansas anymore. Like in any niche, it’s important to know your etiquette.
While Chile usually operates on the one-cheek kiss, the lovely ladies serving the coffee prefer the two-cheek combination. Once you find a nice nook, either on a stool or standing at the bar, take a few moments to enjoy (or detest) the scantily clad waitresses that provide both the coffee and the legs.
Although prices range, it is usually cheaper to have a café (or juice) with legs than to have a coffee at your traditional café. Here is your average selection of drinks: Café Express (espresso), Café Cortado (coffee with milk), jugo (juice) and bedidas (soda/pop). If the legs don’t satisfy your condiment needs, kick your coffee up a notch with some chocolate or cinnamon sugar.
While you’re enjoying your coffee, don’t hesitate to engage in a conversation with the friendly staff; you may enjoy some of their local knowledge.
To shine some light on the subject, we will be providing a weekly review of Café con Piernas establishments throughout Santiago. The assessment will be based on two main categories: Café – which includes cleanliness, comfort, music, theme, location, price and quality of coffee – and Piernas, which will focus on the ladies – service, personality and overall waitressing excellence.
Sit back and let us do all the leg work in removing the cloud of mystery associated with one of Chile’s most tantalizing peculiarities.
-Quality of Coffee: 7
We lucked out with this place.The girls were
not as scantily clad as in some other cafés, but it didn’t matter. The hottest
waitress in the café was assigned to our section. She was quick wth the
coffee, flirtatious, and one hell of a suggestive seller. My only major gripe
was with the music selection. Usually it’s all reggaeton, which keeps the mood
upbeat and the girls dancing. At this café, they had some slower songs
sprinkled into the playlist that brought things to a halt at times. Other than
that, Café Romeo's was great and an excellent way to kick things off.
-Quality of Coffee: 7
Located next to the Plaza de Armas Metro stop,
Café Romeo's is a welcoming establishment with tons of natural light compared to
some other cafés. The mellow atmosphere and great staff really stand out, and
the confident, personable waitresses keep you buying cup after cup while giving
you the lowdown on all Santiago
has to offer. For CP$1,000 (approximately US$2), you get some great coffee and
a great conversation. If you feel generous, you can also buy the nice lady a
coffee for CP$2,000 (approximately US$4). Such a move is sure to get you on her
By Jason Snyder and Adam Fuller (email@example.com)