If you’re local, you may have noticed lately that coffee shops have been springing up downtown like mushrooms after a rain. I’m an espresso addict who remembers the dark days when the only thing you could get here was instant hazelnut coffee, so these shops are practically manna from heaven.
The coffee shop that kicked off the trend a few years ago is “Le Tango Du Chat” (just a block down from Dunkin Donuts and two blocks over from McDonald’s). “Le Tango Du Chat” has quality espresso drinks at around 3,000 or 4,000 won, if I recall, and excellent cheese cake. It’s a great spot for people watching too. If the weathers nice, you can grab a table outside on the street. These days you might be better off sitting upstairs, where it’s warm, to watch the hustle and bustle of the shoppers.
Tucked in an unassuming little alley behind the KB Bank is the cozy coffee shop “At 5-ri.” With its chipper and playful decor, At 5-ri makes the list for atmosphere alone. It does help that they do a mean cup of coffee, along with tea, smoothies and shakes. Lately they’ve been on a cup cake kick (sorry, I forgot to bring my camera for that one), and have a wide enough variety of cup cakes to satisfy any sweet tooth (my favorite is the caramel). They’ve also got a brunch special with French toast and coffee I’ve not tried yet, so if anyone’s up for checking it out sometime, give a shout.
If you consider coffee to be more serious business, then you might want to try “Bean Stock Coffee” (just around the corner from the train station and down the block from Pranzo Italian Restaurant). On top of serving a fine cup of joe and excellent deserts, they roast and grind their own beans on the premises. I may not be a coffee expert, buy I’d say the Bean Stock rivals the “Schuman and Clara” coffee shop in Seonggeon-dong (famous for being the home of the Gyeongju Jazz Society and serving an 8,000 won cup of coffee). The Bean Stock also sells bags of their home-roasted beans at reasonable prices, along with all sorts of coffee and tea paraphernalia. If you’re ever in need of an espresso pot, coffee grinder or high-end herbal tea, you know where to go.
There seem to be more coffee shops popping up every day in Gyeongju, so if I’ve missed one worth mentioning, feel free to let me know in the comments section below. Or if you want to write and post your own review of a coffee shop or restaurant downtown, let me know. Next month I hope to start posting articles from other local expats as well, to keep things interesting.
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