By Anna Hider
Question: where’s the best place to read some Jack Kerouac while listening to Bob Dylan? One of these beatnik coffee houses, of course! Don’t be a square- grab a drink and strike up an interesting conversation with a stranger at one of these still-operating beatnik hangouts.
This no-frills North Beach coffee house was one of the first places on the West Coast to serve espresso and cappuccino- and people today still consider it some of the best. Grab a drink and settle in for some crazy conversation or some amazing live music. You’ll be in good company- Kerouac, Ginsberg, Ferlinghetti and other beat authors were regulars, and Coppola wrote most of The Godfather sitting in this little cafe.
There’s a lot going on at this quirky little Civil-War-themed diner! Not only do they have banjo nights and stand-up comedy nights (it is Chicago, after all), they’re also the meeting place of the beatnik organization “The College of Complexes”. Founded in 1951, they meet weekly to discuss social issues and current events (think topics like “Marxism” and “marijuana”).
3. Cafe Wha?
Every night at this Greenwich Village hangout is a party- you never know what will happen or who will show up. It prides itself on being the former stomping grounds of Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Bruce Springsteen, Peter, Paul & Mary, Kool and the Gang, Richard Pryor and Bill Cosby. The live music (in some form every night) ranges from Brazilian dance to funk to modern alt rock, to keep things interesting.
If you’re in Berkeley, be sure to stop into this quirky coffee house (better known as “Caffe Med” or simply “The Med”). They’ve got all of your coffee needs covered- espresso and mochas and they’re one of the first to serve lattes. Former regulars at this cafe include Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Jerry Rubin and Patty Hearst.
Make like Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady (the real-life Dean Moriarty from On the Road) and drink up at Vesuvio! Conveniently located across from the notorious beatnik City Lights Books, this saloon has been open since 1948, attracting a diverse crowd.