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Travel Report: Dongseongno Cafe Alley, Daegu.

Dongseongno Cafe Alley.

Dongseongno Cafe Alley, Daegu.

April 2019. Anyone who knows me understands only too well that I’m all about the coffee! It gets me going in the morning and motivates me in my endless quest to be as productive as possible.

Moreover, coffee reminds me that sometimes I need to take a break, put my feet up and appreciate the little details in the environment around me. South Korea is very kind to coffee lovers. In fact, it often feels like every third building is a trendy café of some sort.

Peppermint Latte.

Peppermint Latte, baby!

You may be surprised to read that the nation’s so-called coffee capital is actually Daegu and not Seoul. Yup, they say Daegu has the greatest number of coffee shops per capita.

Wonderboy and I dipped into countless cafes during my week exploring the city. However, it wasn’t until my final day that I decided to pay a visit to Dongseongno Café Alley, a 180 metre street home to a cluster of specialty coffee shops.

My Coffeecal Romance Daegu.

Dongseongno Cafe Alley, Daegu.

This cosy street dates back to 2010 when Da Vinci Coffee, now sadly departed, became the first coffeeshop to open here. On the day of my visit the alley was incredibly sleepy, not much happening on a grey, weekday April morning.

The first joint I came across was the wittily named My Coffeecal Romance. It tickled me so much, I decided to head in and have my first coffee of the day.

Dongseongno Cafe Alley, Daegu.

Dongseongno Cafe Alley Daegu.

My Coffeecal Romance.

I was the only customer at My Coffeecal Romance that morning, thus I had the pick of the seats. Having grabbed a window table overlooking the alley, I presented myself to the largely disinterested girl behind the counter. Ordering a Vanilla Latte, I figured on doing an hour’s work and then moving to another place.

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE a quiet café. But this place was DEAD and eerily silent, not even a touch of background music. Moreover, the latte itself was staggeringly average. Not exactly what I’d had in mind, hence I cut my stay short and took a stroll to see if I could do any better.

Cafe Lucid Daegu.

Cafe Lucid.

The next disappointment came in the form of Café Lucid, one of Dongseongno Café Alley’s most recommended drinkeries. Famous for their cozy, vintage vibe and heavenly Binsgu desserts, I arrived to find the place closed.

Not an “it’s too early” or “we don’t do Mondays” kinda shut. Rather, this was a special brand of unavailable that involved a workman drilling away in the darkness at the back. Oh dear.

Ryu Coffee Roasters Daegu.

Ryu Coffee Roasters.

Just as I was starting to feel hugely underwhelmed by the Dongseongno Café Alley experience, I chanced upon Ryu Coffee Roasters. As soon as I walked in, I instinctively knew that I’d struck gold. Third time lucky and all that.

Coffee in Daegu.

Ryu Coffee Roasters Dongseongno Cafe Alley.

Ryu Coffee Roasters.

Beautifully designed, Ryu Coffee Roasters channels a trendy vibe with brass fittings, classical paintings and smartly dressed baristas. In addition to the standard array of coffees, they offer rare, high-end, ethically sourced beans from across Africa, Asia and South America.

Guatemala Black Honey Coffee.

Dongseongno Cafe Alley, Daegu.

Settling down in a quiet corner, I looked over the menu and grimaced at the prices. Finally, after changing my mind several times, I thought screw it, let’s go for the Guatemala el Recuerdo Black Honey roast.

Dongseongno Cafe Alley Daegu.

A seriously good (and pricy) cup of coffee.

Amusingly, I had to make a special request for milk and sugar. The waiter looked quite bemused and clearly had me down as some kind of coffee philistine.

Nevertheless, he trudged off to fetch my luxuriant additions. The coffee was, needless to say, excellent and it felt like the morning had been salvaged!

Into Restaurant Daegu.

Into Restaurant.

In recent years the alley has branched out with the opening of several boutique stores and a handful of fancy eateries. One of these, Into Restaurant, is a tiny, four table place that some say serves the best Italian food in the city.

The menu, which changes weekly, often features pizza, pasta and bulky, overflowing sandwiches. The owners used to manage Dijon, a high end Mediterranean restaurant in the city.

Dongseongno Cafe Alley, Daegu.

Kiss The Cook Restaurant Daegu.

Kiss The Cook Restaurant.

Kiss The Cook gets similarly rave reviews. While they also do pizzas and pasta, these guys are best known for their steak and seafood dishes. Antique decor and fresh flowers on each table maintain the alley’s well-to-do vibe.

Bow the Rice Restaurant Daegu.

Bow The Rice Restaurant.

Completing a trio of oddly named restaurants, Bow the Rice is Dongseongno’s choice spot for fusion fried rice and noodle soup concoctions. They also have a decent range of barbecue dishes.

With a lively restaurant scene complimenting the street’s reputation as a coffee Mecca, Dongseongno Cafe Alley is a great Daegu neighbourhood for food and drink.

Leighton Travels travel reports short stories.

For more on what to see and do in this hugely underrated city, check out my travel reports from Daegu.

Like this? Take a look at more of my articles from around South Korea.

I’ve been living, working and traveling all over the world since 2001. So why not check out my huge library of travel reports from over 30 countries.

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  • wanderlustig

    Being a great coffee lover I was pleased surprised about the variety of coffee shops in South Korea. But as far as pastry and cakes go they could still offer more 😉.

    October 27, 2020 - 9:19 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Agree on the cakes and pastries! Not their strong point… Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.

      October 27, 2020 - 9:22 am Reply
  • Memo

    How ironic that on the morning that you visited, the street was sleepy. Sounds like they could have used a shot of caffeine. Glad you finally found a suitable place.

    October 27, 2020 - 5:06 pm Reply
  • Rebecca

    That peppermint latte looks really good; I LOVE peppermint lattes, and I try to get them every time it’s the holiday season. I’ve heard of Korea’s burgeoning café scene, and I’m curious in giving it a try when I venture to the country some day. Hope you didn’t get all of those coffees in one day; that would be very intense haha!

    October 28, 2020 - 3:55 am Reply
    • Leighton

      I did get those coffees in one day! Whooooohoooo. Etc.

      October 28, 2020 - 9:16 am Reply
      • Rebecca

        You must’ve been bouncing off the walls at the end of the day haha!

        October 29, 2020 - 2:46 am
  • Lyssy In The City

    I am with you on the coffee, it is so fun to explore new coffee shops while traveling! Perfect way to get out of the hotel and explore too.

    October 28, 2020 - 2:46 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Hey Lyssy, thanks for reading. Somehow I knew you’d be on the same page!

      October 28, 2020 - 2:47 pm Reply

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