Most of the décor dates to 1930, the year Café Los Galgos first opened. Antiques give the place much of its character. There is a taxi meter from 1930 that has been turned in to a lamp sitting atop the bar. The ceilings are high, if in need of new paint, and the floor is tiled in tan and mauve. The bevelled mirrors that break up the wood paneling around the room give it the impression of being more spacious than it is while double swinging doors at its three entrances keep the modern world out. Two statues of galgos (greyhounds) flank the ends of the bar. The menu is a laminated sheet that looks like it has been hammered out on a typewriter by Martin, the bespectacled waiter who informs me he has worked here for the past 32 years. He is clad in black trousers, a crisp white jacket, and he is attentive while also knowing when to leave clients alone. After ordering a café con leche, he first pours in as much coffee as I like, then pours the milk. It costs $7.50 and is twice the size of most $12 ones. This place has such a simple grace.The menu consists mostly of coffees, sandwiches, and alcoholic beverages, but the prices are reasonable. The clientele is mostly older, and another white-haired, bespectacled man keeps post behind the bar. He is Horacio Ramos, one of the three sons of Jose Ramos, who acquired this building in 1948. It had previously been the residence of the Lezama family, but was sold to Singer, the sewing machine company, in 1920. Later a Spaniard transformed it in to a bar and grocery store called Café Los Galgos. The name came from the fact that the owner was a fan of greyhound races, which were popular in his hometown in Spain. Porcelain greyhounds filled the place as adornments, which Jose Ramos took a liking to. So the name remained.
Jose Ramos remains here also, in a black-and-white framed photo next to the bar, but it is his sons who run the place now. It must keep them young; Horacio Ramos informs me that he is 89 years old. He remembers the days of the 1950s-70s when the bar was open 24 hours a day, when politicians and artists such as Oscar Alende, Enrique Santos Discepolo, and Arturo Frondizi were regulars. The current clients at Café Los Galgos may not be celebrities, but Horacio and Martin still call me by name when they say goodbye and it is difficult not to smile while walking away from this near miss.
Café Los Galgos is open from 8am to 9pm Mondays through Saturdays. For more information, call 4371-3561.