Seoulâ€™s endless procession of concrete apartment blocks and traffic might give a poor impression to first-time visitors, but walk around the right areas and you will discover the cityâ€™s infinite charm. As the weather changes, youâ€™ll want to find a local standby to duck into among the sprawling maze of alleys in the city. Look around and youâ€™ll see Seoulites doing what they like to do bestâ€”lounging around cafes and restaurants throughout the day and into the night.
By Ryan Brooks
Any resident in the Hongdae neighborhood and beyond can tell you a thing or two about Anthracite cafĂ©. This expat haunt serves up the best single-origin coffee in the city along with crumbly scones and fresh bagels. Anthracite also features some of the hippest baristas around town, clad in bow ties and horn-rimmed glasses. The space is housed in an old shoe factory straight out of the countryâ€™s economic transformation of the 1970s. Massive roasting machines, conveyor belts, and equipment and the antiquated factoryâ€™s corrugated steel roof and dark wooden beams give the space a chic post-industrial feel. Random but artfully punched holes in the cafĂ©â€™s wall and tables made from doors add to the artful wares of the shop. Throw in some eclectic jazz for atmosphere and a horde of stylish clientele to boot and you have Hongdaeâ€™s hippest hangout. The prices for coffee and the bomb-shelter trappings arenâ€™t the cheapest, but the ice cream brownie desserts and drinks concocted in beakers are the perfect backdrop for a Sunday spent in Seoul.
357-6 Hapjeong-dong, Mapo-gu; 82-2/763-3142, 82-2/322-0009; Anthracite; starting from US$4.75