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Café by day, bar by night: two-faced venues in Seoul we can't help but love

The difference is night and day.


What are they setting up behind your back? Something boozy, something bitter, something sweet and in-between.

Hell Café Spiritus
  • Bars
  • Yongsan-gu
Unit 208, Building 31, Hangang Mansion, Ichon-dong — even if you had the address, you’d probably wander around, looking up and down the run-down building in which it’s located. While walking up the stairs built in the early 1970’s after vaguely locating this new café and bar, you’d only see a few residents of the apartments around it visiting their family doctor or picking up small bags of groceries. Hell Café Spiritus, however, has been quietly attracting coffee and cocktail aficionados as well as industry professionals from all over Seoul, with its all-star squad of baristas and bartenders.
  • Bars
As soon as you enter this place, you'll notice a quote which reads something along the lines of: “The night has blissfully gotten longer after a cup of coffee; let’s fill the night up with a bit of alcohol.” It pretty much sums up what YunGunDang is about: it’s a café during the day and a bar by night. Formerly a public bathhouse, this 3-story venue has been completely refurbished into a jazzy venue filled with vintage furniture and a fairly "homey" vibe. 
Montauk Café and Highball Bar
  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Bars
  • Gangnam-gu
Sweet and sour highballs at noon — sound like a peaceful time to us. Montauk Café and Highball Bar located in Sinsa-dong is a good place for that. Although the space itself doesn't exude any particular vibe reminiscent of the land's-end beach town, it surely is chill enough for a casual weekday afternoon with friends — as the parts of its name suggest, you can call up a friend to meet up for a drink and/or coffee.
Don't Panic
  • Bars
  • Jongno-gu
Don’t Panic is a café during the day and a bar during the night. In practice, though, its identity seemed a little murky when I visited — even though it was already set up as a bar by the evening, the lighting was much too strong... Would we come back here? Probably, only for coffee, during the day. For drinks, you might want to head up to Big Blue (which is just upstairs) instead — or, to Ox located in Hannam-dong, which is latest venture of the bar owner.
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