El Faro of the Unexamined Life

On 73rd Street, just below 11th around the U. Pedagogica is a little old place called El Faro—The Lighthouse. The entrance is unprepossessing, with a glass counter full of empanadas and such and on the other side of the narrow entryway an arepa machine for arepas Boyacenses. Inside it seems narrow, until you pass the bar and find a dingy dining room. It is an ancient greasy spoon with posters of Charlie Chaplin, Cantinflas, some kind of coffee poster from the 80’s—to judge by the girl’s hair—something from the 60’s to judge from the font, a poster advertising Coca-Cola for five cents as the thing to have with your partner after doing the theater—in English—and various other pieces of random interior decoration, besides the soap operas constantly running in the extreme background. The waiters look like this has been a lifetime career for them, and like perhaps it is reaching the end therof; behind a rectangular opening in the wall comes the rattling of the kitchen, and business seems brisk enough, but not frenetic.

I set the last interlude in the place because it deserved it.

I actually meant to order an arepa that last time and said empanada, and had I not, we would not today have the interlude we have. Anyway, we went in because the coffee is so good one is left regretting not ordering a second tinto, and this time I said, “ Y una arepa.”

“Con queso, cuajada o dulce?” she asked.

Huh? “Queso,” is said. Hoping it wouldn’t be a regular arepa with a slice of cheese in it. I wanted one of the dark yellow, sweet, round and oddly cooked arepas Boyacenses. They have the sweet corn meal—though not too sweet—with the sourish, strongish cheese mingled into the dough. We’ve had them elsewhere and they are one of the great things about Colombia and the glorious department of Boyaca. The arepas came to us, and then the tintos.

It was a thin crust of arepa and all cheese within—a good inch thick. Wonderful and awfully cheap—and the excellent coffee is awfully cheap too: made in an espresso machine, essentially an espresso but not quite so strong.

Highly recomended.

Best place in the world. Could spend the rest of my life there writing. Especially with all this rain.

5 thoughts on “El Faro of the Unexamined Life

  1. I just realized an overuse of the word “good”. Perhaps I should revise. “A comfortable writing place with food to savor and coffee suitable to the nose is a proper reason for thankfulness.” Regarding coffee, it seems to me that coffee should be pleasing to the nose as much as it should be favorable to the palate.

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