Cafe Guide: Rabbit Hole, Fleeflee, Lessismore
One of the coolest – and sometimes most overwhelming – things about Seoul is how many cafes there are. Even ignoring the major chains, it sometimes seems like there’s an independent café for every resident of the city, with each having its own style and flair. Every week we take a look at 3 independent cafés in different neighborhoods, to help you out next time you need a place to get some work done, take a date, or just grab a cup of coffee.
레빅홀 – 서래마을
Soraemaeul is often thought of as one of Seoul’s more upscale, bougier areas, in large part due to the French population that gives the neighborhood a distinctly European vibe. While there’s no shortage of fancy French cafes to grab an impressively authentic pastry, the side streets are quieter and feel more like a return back to Korea. Tucked away on one of these side streets is Rabbit Hole, a café that sells coffee, teas, juices, and fresh pastries, as well as locally made crafts and jewelry. The entrance is a wide open door frame that gives the main room of the café an airy, light feel. Walking past the counter, the space branches out into smaller, cozier rooms with homey decorations and softer lighting, making it feel like you’ve stumbled into a rabbit hole (get it). Though it doesn’t seem like it at first, it’s a pretty large spot, meaning seating isn’t hard to find. There are plenty of tables with outlets for doing work, and a pretty cute interior makes for a good date or hangout environment. The coffee is solid, the pastries hold their own in the French neighborhood, and the juices are made with fresh fruit instead of syrups or powders. Definitely a nice quiet spot to escape from the hectic streets of Banpo.
플리플리 – 한남동
Hannamdong, the quieter area next to Itaewon, is one of the low-key hippest (or hippest low-key) neighborhoods in Seoul, so naturally there’s an abundance of dope cafes. Fleeflee is one of the dopest – it sits on a kind of raised portion at the top of a small but bustling street, and with huge windows in front, you can enjoy the view looking over Hannam. Inside, the vibe is edgier and clearly hip-hop influenced. The walls, ceiling and floor are dark concrete, while chairs and tables are industrial metal. In the back is a sofa draped in a white sheet and some tables and chairs for lounging. Music, art, and skate culture are the theme, with local zines laying around and underground hip-hop usually bumping on a turntable. There are moody but really impressive sketches and paintings hanging throughout, which I think they rotate out weekly or monthly. The baristas and most of the people who chill here look like the type that were at BrandNu or Hens every night a few years ago, but they grew up and got tired of that scene, retreating to Hannam (who can blame them?). The coffee is solid and they sell cheesecake and a really big chocolate chip cookie, which a girl I went with once got, and I said I wouldn’t eat it but we all know I did. It was delicious. I also went one time and got a cup of coffee that started leaking when I got outside, so I went back in and tried to explain what happened but used the wrong word for “broke” in the sentence “the cup broke.” The barista gave me a new one anyway and was apologetic. So A+ for service I guess.
레스이즈모어 – 안암동
Lessismore is unique for a Seoul café in that, in addition to having a dope interior, the focus is 100% on the coffee. The staff is expertly trained at making the drinks on their minimalist menu, which has featured five (five!) types of cold brew since before cold brew was even a thing in Seoul. During the day, you can see the coffee dripping down massive beakers, which have been integrated into the overall design of the spot. The space is large and very open, basically a giant square, with a raw concrete floor and minimalist tables, chairs, and several sofas all aligned in an orderly grid. Two of the walls are entirely glass windows, so that during the day the café practically feels like it’s outdoors. There is also a beautiful, long driftwood table where people can sit together if they don’t feel like taking up a lot of space. A block away from Korea University, Lessismore is naturally a hub for studying, though surprisingly you can almost always find a spot. The clean, open interior makes it a great space for getting work done, and all of the coffee drinks are truly amazing. I’m partial to the light cold brew, because the dark one is so unbelievably strong it’s practically viscous, and probably contains a dangerous amount of caffeine (and I drink a shit ton of coffee, so). Their coco cold brew is a sweet, coconut-flavored variation that’s crazy refreshing. It also happens to be across the street from Goreun Haetsal, a banging kimbap spot we wrote about in our neighborhoods section this week.
If you’ve been to any of the spots we listed this week, or think we fucked something up, let us know. For more Seoul cafes, check out next week’s list.
Photo credits: Author, @sseo_kee, @z1n.tonic, @spicemint