Seoul’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 city’s infinite charm. As the weather changes, you’ll want to find a local standby to duck into among the sprawling maze of alleys in the city. Look around and you’ll see Seoulites doing what they like to do best—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 café. 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 country’s economic transformation of the 1970s. Massive roasting machines, conveyor belts, and equipment and the antiquated factory’s corrugated steel roof and dark wooden beams give the space a chic post-industrial feel. Random but artfully punched holes in the café’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 Hongdae’s hippest hangout. The prices for coffee and the bomb-shelter trappings aren’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