Cover The Literary Cafe at St Petersburg (Photo: Instagram@literarycafe/)

From Argentina to Japan, we gather eight popular eateries frequented by some of the greatest writers in history.

Just as athletes need high-quality nourishment to build their bodies and excel at their sports, writers need good food to increase their writing stamina, and get their creative juices flowing. And being creatures of habit, whenever a writer enjoys the food at a particular eatery, he or she tends to become a loyal customer for life. Writers tend to pen stories based on their experiences, and what experience is more satisfying than a fulfilling meal?

Here are eight bars and eateries from all around the world which have been fancied by literary legends, from Hemingway to Rowling. Who knows how much their dining experiences may have ultimately influenced their writing?

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1. Vesuvio Cafe, San Francisco

If you were a young rebel in the 1950s, then San Francisco was definitely the place for you. That city saw the rise of the Beat Generation, a literary movement that greatly shaped America in the post-war era. 

A local cafe, Vesuvio, became a popular spot for beat poets to hang out and drink. It helped that it was next to City Lights Bookstore, a famous gathering spot for activists. Patrons included writers Jack Kerouac, Allan Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Neal Cassady. The bar is still regarded today as a monument to jazz, art, poetry—and, of course, the good life of the Beat Generation.

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2. Les Deux Magots, Paris

In the early 20th century, this was the place to be if you wanted to rub shoulders with the culturally and intellectually elite. Located in the Saint-Germain-des-Pres area, it was frequently visited by Jean-Paul Sartre, Gertrude Stein, Julia Child, Pablo Picasso, Albert Camus, and more.

Les Deux Magots is now a popular tourist attraction, and is also known as one of the best places in Paris for hot chocolate. It is the only café in the world with its own literary prize, The Deux Magots Prize, which has been awarded to a French novel every year since 1933. And if you're curious about its name, the word ‘magots’ means ‘stocky figurines from the Far East’, and refers to two statues which stand against one of the café’s pillars.

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3. Cafe Tortoni, Buenos Aires

This is the oldest coffeehouse in Argentina, established in 1858 by a French immigrant, who named it after a café in Paris. With such a colourful background, it's no wonder Cafe Tortoni started attracting some of the most creative minds in Latin America. Noted visitors included José Ortega y Gasset, Jorge Luis Borges, Molina Campos, and Benito Quinquela Martín. The venue also has a spot featuring wax figures of Borges, singer/songwriter Carlos Gardel and poet Alfonsina Storni, which is very popular for photographs.

Cafe Tortoni offers tango shows and poetry recitals at night, and its coffee and chocolate churros are said to be particularly delightful.

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4. The Literary Cafe, St Petersburg

The site of what would later become The Literary Cafe started as the Wolf and Baranger confectionery in the 19th century. It soon gained a reputation for serving some of the best food in St Petersburg, and wound up attracting some of the grandest names in Russian literature including Alexander Pushkin, Mikhail Lermontov, Taras Shevchenko, and Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

In 1877, the confectionary closed, and the place became an upscale restaurant. Rumour has it that the composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky died after drinking a glass of water contaminated with the cholera bacteria. 

The restaurant was shut down but reopened in the 80s, and renamed The Literary Café as a tribute to its colourful past. Pictures of Russian writers adorn its walls, and evenings are reserved for poetry recitals. It is also especially known for serving dishes mentioned by Alexander Pushkin in his works.

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5. The Elephant House, Edinburgh

The Elephant House is one of the most well-known coffee and tea houses in Edinburgh. It has a collection of about 600 elephant-shaped trinkets and knick-knacks, from where the place gets its name. Amazingly, this is not the most famous thing about the cafe.

It entered the annals of popular culture after it was revealed that author J.K. Rowling wrote part of her Harry Potter series here. Today, it is a pilgrimage point for Potterheads from all around the world. Other prominent personalities who have visited this cafe are authors Ian Rankin and Alexander McCall Smith.

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6. The Eagle And Child, Oxford

This little English pub may seem humble and unassuming, but epic fantasy worlds have been created within its walls. The Eagle and Child was a favourite gathering spot for The Inklings, a group of writers that included J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. The group enjoyed having informal lunches at a private lounge they called ‘The Rabbit Room’, where they would also discuss their work. It was here in June 1950 that Lewis first distributed the finished proofs for The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, the first book in his Chronicles of Narnia series.

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7. The Carousel Bar of Hotel Monteleone, New Orleans

This ritzy watering hole proudly proclaims itself to be the only revolving bar in New Orleans. Built on 2,000 steel rollers, it moves at a rate of one revolution every 15 minutes. This whimsical premise somehow attracted the attention of many famous authors, including Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams and Truman Capote, who were all spotted as guests here. The bar also makes an appearance in two of Williams' plays (Orpheus Descending, The Rose Tattoo) and the Stephen Ambrose's book Band of Brothers, among many other literary works.

It was also the birthplace of two famous cocktails, The Goody and The Vieux Carre Cocktail.

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8. Bar Lupin, Tokyo

Why is a bar named after a thief from a classic French novel so popular with Japanese creatives? No one really knows, but Bar Lupin in Ginza, Tokyo, has been frequented by writers such as Ozamu Dazai, Nagai Kafū and Kawabata Yasunari, painters Fujishima Takeji and Fujita Tsuguharu, and playwrights Furukawa Roppa and Osanai Kaoru. Bar Lupin has even made appearances in famous manga Bartender and Bungo Stray Dogs. Incidentally, its signature cocktail is the Moscow Mule.

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