Cafe Travel Maker – Your Stop for Classic American Breakfast in Seoul 

For Seoul’s expats, breakfast is the hardest meal. What do you do on those mornings when ramen or seaweed soup just won’t do, when you can’t face the prospect of another bowl of cereal or a dismal trip to your nearest GS25? Well, you could wait until 11am for the brunch places to open (yeah, 11am), and enjoy an expensive meal that may or may not come with strawberry dressing on the salad (yeah, strawberry) or you could drag yourself over to Cafe Travel Maker in Hongdae for a filling, affordable, genuine American breakfast in Seoul.

That was not an exaggeration: Cafe Travel Maker gets everything right. It opens at 7am, so you can actually have breakfast at a breakfast hour. It serves the basics and it does them properly – pancakes, sausages, French toast, eggs, waffles, breakfast burritos, and hash browns made from recognizable potatoes. It’s plain and unpretentious fare, and so are the prices. The big combo meals are around 11,500 Korean won and they are very filling, but if you’re just after pancakes or toast and coffee you can probably spend less than 10,000 won – try spending that little in Gangnam and see how far it gets you.

The cafe’s interior is clean, bright, and simple, and just like a proper diner, every table has bottles of maple syrup, mustard, and tomato sauce. Obviously it’s not the sort of place you’d take a date to if you wanted to impress them (unless you’re dating a famished, culture-shocked American visitor who is allergic to rice and cabbage). But this complete lack of a trendy, Gangnamite influence or ‘artisanal’ hipster flair is Cafe Travel Maker’s greatest strength. The coffee is Lavazza, reliable, and cheap, and the condiments and orange juice are similarly simple. It’s just plain old good food.

One odd element does stand out from the menu, though, in name at least. And that’s the Obama Breakfast – two pieces of toast, two sausages, scrambled eggs and hashed browns with coffee or orange juice for 9,700 won. A puzzling name, but surely an Obama Breakfast would taste better than a Lyndon Baines Johnson Breakfast – “LBJ, LBJ, how many eggs have you cracked today?” Sadly there is no Republican option.


Getting There

You’ll find Cafe Travel Maker in a quiet backstreet on the other side of Hongdae (the part where you never usually go), where there are a few backpacker hostels, the cafe’s most obvious clientele. From Hongik University Station take exit 3 and go straight out, following the road that runs parallel with a strip of vacant, grassy land. Cafe Travel Maker is on the left, two or three blocks from the subway. For more info here is Cafe Travel Maker’s Facebook page.

Address: 37, Yanghwa-ro 21-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul, Korea
Phone: 070-8161-3594
Hours: 7:00 AM-5:00 PM

Photo cred: Richard Whitten of Seoulsync

Love pancakes? Try making them yourself with our DIY banana pancake recipe!

About The Author

Richard Whitten

Richard was born in Sydney, Australia, and lived there his whole life until moving to Seoul. Though he's lived here for four years now and is happily married, he hasn't quite lost that 'Wow I'm in Korea!' enthusiasm.