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Best bars in Hongdae

These are the best bars in the Hongdae area.

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L’impasse 81
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Bars
  • Tapas bars
  • Mapo-gu

There’s a new charcuterie place where you can wine and dine. Though you might think of this place as a bar, because they make their own French ham and sausages here, it would be better to consider it as a professional charcuterie. The word l’impasse is French for “dead-end alleyway,” and the number 81 stands for the year that the duo from Studio Food Lab, chef Gregorie Michot and chef Jio, were born. These two searched the meat shops of Majang-dong to make their own ham and sausages, and finally found the perfect one (they use Australian lamb). Studying the culinary arts at the age of 16 and having worked as the sous chef for La Tour d’Agent and Plaza Athenee, chef Greg’s handmade charcuterie is close to flawless with all that experience under his belt. Chef Jio also makes things easier when he brings over the menu and breaks it down so that we can understand it. Currently at L’impasse 81, there are six types of handmade sausages, six different hams, four kinds of pâté and rillettes. It’s the kind of meat you can’t get anywhere else in Korea. The spicy lamb sausage, merguez, was superb, and the Andouille sausage, where they put the meat inside the stomach of a pig, was a menu item that would cause even the French to go home smacking their lips. The sausages come with several sides, including creamed spinach and potato gratin. (Our point being: it’s big enough of a portion to be your meal.) The cassoulet (traditional French dish made by boiling beans and meat in tomato sauce)

Le Salon du Lapin(Ttoggigul)
  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Bars
  • Hapjeong-dong
  • price 3 of 4

Jam sessions among musicians don’t happen only in New York City. It can also be easily seen at Le Salon du Lapin, located in Hapjeong. Although it’s not a live club, you’ll see random performances by musicians who come to just hang out with the owner. Performance genres vary between blues, jazz and rock. There are a variety of drinks, including whiskey, cocktails, beer at relatively affordable prices while the bar also offers non-alcoholic cocktails and coffee for those who are not drinkers.

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Krämerlee
  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Bars
  • Hapjeong-dong
  • price 2 of 4

Combining modern aesthetic with a German countryside feeling, you’ll first notice Krämerlee on summer nights by the jovial drinkers seated outside. As indicated by their German name, the bar offers a simple menu of six craft beers and four food dishes. Although the classic Weissbier is a local favorite, manager and German native Christian recommends the Helene, which has undertones of the pear juice from which it’s made. Popular dishes include Christian’s favorite flammkuchen which he describes as “German pizza” (made predominately with white cheese and onions) and the potato and sausage platter. 

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Bars
  • Mapo-gu
  • price 2 of 4

If the best of Hongdae could be encompassed in one bar, it would look a lot like Bar Da. Accessible by one of Hongdae’s backstreets; a table on the rooftop requires a climb up some questionable stairs. Cheap beers and cocktails are served with dried anchovies here where musicians and artists flock before or after shows. Their conversations are well offset with the dim lighting hanging from the low ceilings and the postcards and drawings on the walls. Bar Da is a play on the Korean word for ocean and with its blue overtones, the bar’s breezy feel suits both the large crowds and intimate couples that frequent the place.

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Bali Superstore
  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Bars
  • Beer bars
  • Mapo-gu
  • price 2 of 4

Bali is well-known as a hotspot of surfing culture and beach lovers, having stolen the hearts of surfers and adventurers alike. It was only a matter of time before someone in Seoul took Bali beach culture as a theme for their venue—which is exactly what gastropub Bali Superstore has done. Stepping through the doors feels almost like stepping onto Kuta Beach, or at least like walking into a Balinese beachside eatery. Furnished with antiques and decor brought straight from the island, the shop is also decorated with fascinating pieces of art from Ubud, an art community in the center of the island known for its traditional culture. As for the menu, Bali Superstore sells satay skewers along with other local foods to go with their well-stocked beer selection.

Turtle Union
  • Bars
  • Yeonnam-dong

It's not just the name. This interesting bar is indeed a union of 3 different but equally unique bars: Agami which offers well aged sashimi, a pojangmacha style pub Yudeokhwa and bar Mindeulle (Dandelion). As collective as the bar itself is, Turtle Union is usually filled with patrons who came in as a group. But there are great hidden spots for solo drinking here: the cozy corner seats at each of the bars. Start with some cocktail from Mindeaulle, accompany it with some assorted sashimi from Agami, and if you feel hungry, fill your stomach with the thinly sliced brisket salad from Yudeokhwa. As you go through each bar’s menu, you'll notice that the noise at this place serves an interestingly soothing element for your solo drinking session. Solo drinking tip: the moment you step into this place, know that you've already got 3 buddies by your side.

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It’s here: the “Time Out Cocktail” for Seoul
  • Bars

When we asked Robin's Square to whip up an original cocktail that best represents both Time Out and Seoul, we knew we were asking a huge favor. So when Robin oppa sent us a text saying “It’s good! It’s delicious!” we couldn’t help but cheer. “I think I am a genius,” were his exact words as he set out not only one, but three Cobblers made with three different kinds of wine—white, red and port.     Before you take a sip, the lemon verbena first hits the nose with a refreshing, mint-like scent. The taste of vanilla gives it a deep, comfortable feeling. "People living in Seoul are always busy. As cobblers would make cocktails for themselves on their breaks, this is the kind of drink that could give Seoulites a moment of respite and comfort.” says Robin. Ah, a Time Out philosophy in a drink at last! And with available variations to boot. The white wine and rum cobbler is the perfect way to start off the night, and to follow through, the red wine cobbler with a splash of dark rum will definitely lift your spirits. Save the port wine cobbler for last, as the aged rum (“deep like a doenjang fermented for five years” is how Robin describes it), will add some depth to bring out the best of the sweet port wine—exactly what a good, dessert-like cocktail should be.    Once you ask for a Time Out Cocktail from Robin (or any of the bartenders at Robin Square), he’ll give you three options. Ask according to your mood at the moment. We ordered the most classic Time Out Cocktail today, but Rob

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Ddobagi Chicken
  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Bars
  • Mapo-gu
  • price 1 of 4

Every so often, one outpost of a national chain will somehow gain a cult following, and it’s not always clear why. Is it the air? A secret ingredient? We’re not entirely sure, but Ddobagi Chicken’s Sangsu location is its best known, and is always full of Hongdae art students, giggling couples, and elderly drinking buddies. The attention is not undeserved—Ddobagi’s signature boneless chicken is fried with a thin layer of seasoned batter crisped over tender flesh, and a deal at 9,000 won. The interior is nothing fancy, which only adds to its 90s Korean drama charm. Wash your chicken down with a stein of cheap beer for the full Korean “hof” experience.

Craft One
  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Bars
  • Mapo-gu
  • price 2 of 4

Craft One… Located in Yeonnam-dong, this bar opened last June combining good craft beer with a local flavors. Made by locals, they exemplify the next stage in Korea’s beer evolution. The vibe… While the bar feels young and vibrant, it’s quite devoid of decoration or daintiness. It’s not Itaewon and the crowd here has considerably many more Koreans, and more males than females. Trek out here for the Mingle (the beer), but not necessarily to mingle.   

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