Cafe Guide: Cafe Rosso, Tuhbangnae, Monday to Sunday
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. Each 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.
카페로쏘 – 삼청동
Samchungdong, the area next to the historic Bukchon hanok village [북촌한옥마을], is one of Seoul’s quieter, prettier areas. That being said, due to its location and its charm, it’s usually teeming with tourists and couples on dates. If you’re in the area and get sick of what can sometimes be a hectic main street, hit the little side alleyways, where lots of cafes, restaurants and boutiques quietly operate. One of the more down-to-earth cafes up here is Café Rosso, which is in an older building and has the rustic feel of a classic Korean dabang [다방]. They have a picture-book menu full of coffee and tea drinks. Even as someone who drinks almost exclusively black coffee, I’m partial to their shakeratto, and unlike most Korean cafes their teas and juices aren’t excessively sweet (don’t tell me you haven’t noticed it too). This probably isn’t the best spot to get work done, if only because of how charming and cozy the wood interior is. Instead, this is the spot to hit when you’re meeting up with friends or just need to duck in somewhere after a long day or walking up hills and dodging tourists.
터방내 – 흑석
Look, I don’t know what you’re doing around Heuksuk. Unless you go to Chungang University [충앙대], live here, work here, or need to pick a kid up from school here, there isn’t really a reason to be here. That is, unless you’re just interested in exploring the real areas of Seoul that haven’t been intentionally developed, aren’t set up for tourists, and basically just exist on their own (we’re major proponents of this). Regardless of why you’re here, if you’re like us you’ll need a coffee break at some point. Though not as much a place to grab a drink and dip, Tuhbangnae is vibe-y with a capital V. It’s been in Heuksuk since 1983, and clearly hasn’t changed since. The dark, moody downstairs spot is meant to emulate an old-fashioned music café, and it does this very well. All the seats are recessed booths, with a heavy lounge-y atmosphere and people’s names carved into seats, walls, tables, basically everything. They do a lot of old-school coffee preparations, like a siphon drip, as well as pretty creative variations like a “tropical coffee,” where espresso is topped with a rum-soaked lemon and lit on fire. Pretty cool. This spot is genuinely like stepping back in time and is a perfect spot to chill with friends, relax, or take a date if he/she is down with something different.
먼데이투선데이 – 압구정로데오 / 청담동
Monday to Sunday is one of the few cafes left in the Apgujeong Rodeo area after everyone upped and moved over to Garosugil. Nonetheless, their beverages and food options make it a place to hit if you need a cup of coffee or a western-style brunch in Apgujeong. The first story spot has a concrete patio in front with open seating, backed by massive windows that fold back to open the entire façade. The space is pretty large, with very design-conscious furniture arranged in quartets around oval coffee tables, as well as a few longer communal tables. During the day, the spot is airy and open; at night, it gets a little cozier. The coffee is all solid, and the brunch options – ranging from waffles, to pancakes, to omelets and more – are all pretty good, and definitely hit the spot if you’re looking for western-style breakfast food.
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 last week’s list.
Photo credits: @3265sunny @caferosso40_1, @yoolim.ee, @hxgyoon_