10 hidden café gems worth seeking out in Seoul

Instagram-worthy and with top-notch coffee and desserts to boot.

10 hidden café gems worth seeking out in Seoul
10 hidden café gems worth seeking out in Seoul
30 Nov 2018

10 hidden café gems worth seeking out in Seoul

Seoul is definitely not lacking in the number of cafés where you can enjoy a cup of coffee and perhaps a delectable dessert or two. And instead of heading to the been-there-done-that places like Daerim Warehouse, Café Onion or even Zapangi, here is our list of cafes to check out on your next trip whether you’re in the mood for a coffee-break or people-watching. Plus, every café on the list is also perfect for the ‘gram.

Café El Cielo
Café El Cielo
30 Nov 2018

Café El Cielo

Instagram: @cafe_el_cielo

Meaning “sky” in Spanish, it is no wonder that the first thing that catches your eye in this cafe is the fluffy clouds hanging from the ceiling. While trendy Garuso-gil is just a few streets away, this tiny café is actually situated amidst quaint old-school shops and eateries. Feeling peckish? Try the Nube Blanca, a frozen cheesecake generously topped with fresh cream, which looks just like the clouds above, or the chocolatey-rich brownies and cookies for an instant pick-me-up. Oh, and did we mention that a visit to the café is also aesthetically pleasing in a different way? We hear that the staff are all models or models-in-training, which definitely lends new meaning to people-watching.

Address: 31 Gangnam-daero 156-gil, Gangnam-gu Seoul

Opening hours: 11am – 10pm (Monday-Thursday); 11am – 11pm (Friday); 12pm – 11pm (Saturday); 12pm – 10pm (Sunday)

Nearest subway station: Sinsa (Exit 8)

Photos: Instagram/@bobkkslh22, @iolo_mina, @cafe_el_cielo

Cookie Walk
Cookie Walk
30 Nov 2018

Cookie Walk

Instagram: @cookiewalk__

Located on the second floor, stepping into this café makes you feel like you could be visiting your granny for tea with its vintage-inspired décor. The café prides itself in using seasonal ingredients, which makes each trip special because you won’t know what’s on offer. The cakes are light and moist and are filled with homemade jam bases, while the savoury pies fill the tummy without being too much if you’re in the mood for a light bite.

PS. The café is also dog-friendly, so don’t be surprised if you spot a pup or two while you’re there.

Address: 78 Poeun-ro Mangwon 1(il)-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul 

Opening hours: 2pm – 9pm (Wednesday-Friday); 1pm – 8pm (Saturday-Sunday); Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays

Nearest subway station: Mangwon (Exit 2)

Photos: Instagram/@cho_cho_90, @breads_eater

Clarte Coffee
Clarte Coffee
30 Nov 2018

Clarte Coffee

Instagram: @clarte_coffee

It’s easy to pass by this café without realising as it’s situated on the second floor, but this is definitely one that should not be missed. The café boasts two floors (levels two and three) as well as outdoor seating, which is great when the weather is good. The upper floor is like a greenhouse with floor to ceiling glass doors and windows that let in natural daylight. Besides the gorgeous setting, the desserts and drinks - our faves are the Tiramisus that come generously topped with fruits like strawberry and grapefruit, as well as the Tripled Baked Cheesecake, are particularly worth having, which makes this café more than just a pretty spot for photos.

Address: 59 Yeonhui-ro 1-gil Mapo-gu, Seoul

Opening hours: 12pm – 10:30pm (Daily; closed every first Monday of the month)

Nearest subway station: Hongik University (Exit 4)

Photos: Instagram/@seoul.spot, @clarte_coffee

Quartet
Quartet
30 Nov 2018

Quartet

Instagram: @quartet.official

The scent of freshly baked bread is what allures people here. Located in Sounds Hannam, Quartet is the ideal spot to meet up with friends for a light meal or simply for a cup of coffee. Fortunately, there is ample space outside at the terrace. When it comes to baked goods, there is so many choices to choose from the fruity Stollen to the Chocolate Cream Brioche and Hazelnut Chocolate Madeleines. We’re also fans of the soft and chewy chocolate chip cookies. Besides baked goods, the place also sells a variety of cheeses, salads and sandwiches. Our fave spot? The red and pink bench just outside the café against the concrete walls that makes for an ideal OOTD spot.

PS. We also hear that BigBang’s G-Dragon has an apartment in the building, so who knows, you just might spot the star on his off day from serving the nation.

Address: 657-128 Hannam-dong Yongsan-gu, Seoul

Opening Hours: 9am – 10pm (Daily)

Nearest subway station: Hangangjin (Exit 3)

Photos: Instagram/ @john.able, @quartet.official

Dear Blossom Coffee
Dear Blossom Coffee
30 Nov 2018

Dear Blossom Coffee

Instagram: @dearblossom_coffee

A somewhat unassuming café from the outside, its eclectic yet cosy interior makes you feel like you’ve arrived at your favourite aunt’s home with its floral and lace décor. And while you can always opt for the usual cappuccino and lattes, why not try something different, like the sinful but oh-so-delicious Dirty Chocolate, which is a rich chocolate-y drink topped with whipped cream and chocolate bits. In addition, besides the variety of fresh fruit and cream toasts, you can also try the An Butter - a small loaf-like bread that contains slabs of butter together with red bean paste.

Address: 205-1 Jamsil-dong, Songpa-gu, Seoul

Opening hours: 12pm – 10pm (Sunday-Thursday); 12pm – 11pm (Friday-Saturday); Closed every 2nd and 4th Sunday of the month

Photos: Instagram/@dearblossom_coffee, @seulisamy, @barni.salad

Flour Artisan Bakery & Café
Flour Artisan Bakery & Café
30 Nov 2018

Flour Artisan Bakery & Café

Instagram: @flourbakerycafe

It was actually our noses that led us to this bakery. Opened by a brother and sister team, the breads, pastries and cakes are baked fresh every day. There are interesting combinations of squid ink and honey gorgonzola croissant, red wine and fig bread and cream filled croissants — choose from plain, caramel or chocolate. But our favourite is the café’s signature Rustic bread. Affectionately known as “An Butter”, consists of generous slabs of butter together with red bean paste on a sough dough bread. The combination is a surprisingly delicious treat that isn’t too sweet nor cloying. Consider it an upgraded version of our local Anpan bread.

We also spotted a few customers spending quiet time on their laptops or with their books amidst the art deco inspired interior.

Address: 45 Apgujeong-ro 2-gil Sinsa-dong, Seoul

Opening hours: 10am-10pm (Daily)

Nearest subway station: Sinsa (Exit 8)

Photos: Instagram/@jini434, @huhdong_, @flourbakerycafe

Kafe Piknic
Kafe Piknic
30 Nov 2018

Kafe Piknic

Instagram: @piknic.kr

Kafe Piknic is located on the ground floor of Piknic in a four-storey gallery near Namdaemun Market. A café by day and a tapas bar that serves natural wine by night, this is the IT place to be amongst the fashionista crowd. The coffee is always robust thanks to a collaboration between Hell Café, a popular coffee joint in Yongsan, while the food is always delicious as it is prepared by the same team that takes care of Zero Complex on the third floor - a fine dining restaurant that boasts two Michelin-starred chefs. But what we fell in love with was the long dining table that runs across the entire length of the café and the brilliant chandeliers that hang above it. It makes you feel like you’re the queen of the manor thanks to the luxurious vibe it gives. Word of caution: Because the place does not accept reservations so be prepared to wait for a seat, especially on Saturdays.

PS. If you prefer somewhere with a bit more natural light for your OOTDs, head upstairs to the rooftop where you can chill with a drink comfortably on a bean bag and take in the view.

Address: 205-100 Hoehyeon-dong Jung-gu, Seoul

Opening hours: 11am – 6pm (Monday-Saturday)

Nearest subway station: Heohyeon (Exit 4)

Photos: Instagram/@xximelin, @_bohyun

Dong Baek Yanggwa-jeom
Dong Baek Yanggwa-jeom
30 Nov 2018

Dong Baek Yanggwa-jeom

Instagram: @dongbaek_official

Affectionately known as Soufflé Pancakes, this woody interior reminds us of a traditional English tea shop, complete with its staff decked out in an adorable ensemble of shirt, pants and suspenders. With a name like Soufflé Pancake, you know you have to their signature Strawberry Soufflé Pancake. Everything is freshly made, so you will have to wait a while before you get to have your treat. But it’s worth it as the pancakes are light and fluffy, and come with a generous serving of cream and strawberries.

Address: 17-24, Supyo-ro 28-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul

Opening hours: 10am – 11pm (Daily)

Nearest subway station: Jongno 3-ga (Exit 4)

Photos: Instagram/@capri_cieux, @analog_pic99, @ga__ni

Ver’s Garden
Ver’s Garden
30 Nov 2018

Ver’s Garden

Instagram: @vers_house

If you love greenery, this is definitely a place to visit. Its previous café location was closer towards Hongdae, but that has since closed. Thankfully the people behind Ver’s Garden have opened a second outlet that is just as lush. The café is filled with plants and its rustic interior makes you feel like you’re outdoors or at least in a greenhouse filled with flora. And instead of a coffee, we highly recommend the flower teas to try, like the refreshing Hibiscus Lemonade, with your cake to revive the senses. Fun Fact: You can even put together a bouquet at the basement flower shop for your other half before you leave.

Address: 44 Seongmisan-ro 23-gil, Yeonnam-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul

Opening hours: 12pm – 8pm (Monday); 12pm – 10pm (Tuesday-Sunday)

Nearest subway station: Gajwa (Exit 1)

Photos: Instagram/@ahnssol, @vers_house

Coffee Hanyakbang
Coffee Hanyakbang
30 Nov 2018

Coffee Hanyakbang

Instagram: @커피한약방

Not the newest on the list, but it’s one that ranks high with the people in the know. This hidden (and we mean it in every sense of the word as the café is tucked in the narrowest of alleyways) gem instantly transports you onto a Wong Kar Wai movie set, complete with classical and jazz soundtracks playing in the background. The interior is furnished with lacquered furniture with mother-of-pearl finishes alongside antique coffee roasting tools giving it an authentic vintage feel. We dare you to suppress the urge to channel your best In The Mood For Love pose as you sip on your freshly brewed coffee.

PS. If you need to satisfy your sweet tooth, why not pop over to the dessert shop, Hyemindang, just across. Both are owned by the same owners.

Address: 16-6 Samil-daero 12-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul

Opening hours: 8am – 10:30pm (Weekdays); 11am – 10pm (Saturday); 12pm – 8pm (Sunday)

Nearest subway station: Eujilro 3-ga (Exit 1)

Photos: Instagram/@bonbonw0204, @dredota

Related:
11 popular Korean snacks to buy in Seoul

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