10 Characteristics of a Hipster Restaurant

10 Characteristics of a Hipster Restaurant

I wrote a post called 10 Things to Look for When Dining Vietnamese and 10 Characteristics of a Hippie Restaurant and this is the hipster version of it. I want to say it was “by popular demand”, but there was no demand. I just felt like doing it and I hope you find it entertaining even if you don’t think it’s true. I know hipsters hate being called “hipsters” and I know I’m stereotyping… but it’s for fun and there is a degree of truth to it, but don’t take this too seriously. I apologize ahead of time if I offend some people… anyway here goes!

Traif in Manhattan, New York

1. No signs.

All signs, and as contradicting as it sounds, no signs, is the first sign that points to hipster. It used to be vintage or restored signs, but now it’s just no sign. It’s no longer cool to be “loud” with big signage, although small signage with tiny and barely visible font seems to be the new way to market. Or it could be just more affordable too.

Narrow Artist Lounge in Vancouver, BC

2. It’s in a random, hidden, or off the beaten track location.

If it’s a posh, hip and trendy area, a hipster restaurant shouldn’t be there, but quite often it is. A “real” hipster restaurant likely settled in a popular area before it got popular, or they have already moved to secluded areas, lofts and basements that are less known and more affordable. Even if it is in a popular area it will keep to itself and away from the “hype”. Being discrete and sometimes shady looking is key.

House Guest in Vancouver, BC

3. The hours are random, the website is broken or ambiguous, and they don’t pick up their phone.

I don’t get it. Apparently it’s no longer cool to pick up your phone and a full inbox is all you’ll get if it’s not an endless ring. Operating a business doesn’t really require set business hours or an informational website either. “Work when you want” is not a far-fetched mentality. Closing hours and “official closing hours” are blurred because they often close when they want, or when things get boring.

Nelson the Seagull in Vancouver, BC

4. The clientele and staff are hard to tell apart, and you kind of feel like you need a membership to eat there.

With vintage second hand clothing, new clothes that are made to look old, and old clothes that can cost more than new clothes, everyone is more or less rocking the same thing. Uniforms? What uniforms? The staff wear what they’re comfortable in. As for the customers, instead of fake eyelashes and purses, it’ll be fake glasses and messenger bags. The guys may sport facial hair that seem professionally styled and groomed, and they too are carrying messenger bags. As intimate as the space may seem, you may feel unwelcome if you’re not part of the culture.

Nelson the Seagull in Vancouver, BC

5. If it’s not a DJ it’s a record player.

There is usually music playing and the tracks are nothing you would hear on the radio… unless you’re listening to AM radio. There may be the occasional Beatles and timeless forgotten classics, but otherwise everything else will be some new “unknown” band, or something off PitchForkMedia. If it’s not vinyl they’re playing then it’s going to be an in house DJ, who plays occasional hip hop, and on special nights they might feature a live independent band that most people (non-hipsters) may not have heard of.

Pine States Biscuits in Portland, Oregon

6. The guy baking has tattoos and is really into the baking.

There is an emphasis on home made and usually baking… and the passion may stem from baking brownies. The cookies should always be homemade and if you’re lucky, the place will make their own biscuits. The kitchen looks like a home style kitchen and the bakers are usually sporting a bandana or some funky hat.

The Fat Radish in Manhattan, New York

7. If the decor isn’t earthy and artsy with a handcrafted wooden table, then it’s retro or funky Japanese.

Are you inside or outside? Long wooden communal tables, memorabilia and random mismatched furniture are common at hipster hangouts. Artwork by unknown artists and a handcrafted communal wooden table in some part of the room is common. It’s either white and minimalistic or dark and gloomy. Most likely there will be some black and white or sepia tone photographs somewhere. If it’s not the nature route or “root” (ha!), then it’s the retro route or funky Japanese route.

Gene Cafe in Vancouver, BC

8. It seems a bit more like a hang out than a restaurant.

There’s free wi-fi and maybe some retro old school boardgames lying around. The food isn’t necessarily secondary, but it’s really about atmosphere and eating together… at the wooden communal table. If you’re alone, then you’re using a lap top, reading a book, scribbling in a notebook, drawing in a sketchbook, playing on your iphone or listening to music on your ipod… or knitting.

Cafe Myriade in Montreal, Quebec

9. They’re proud of their coffee and hand grind/roast their own coffee beans.

Coffee is a huge focus and they take pride in hand roasting their own coffee beans. It should be fair trade and organic too and I wouldn’t say the word “decaf” too loudly.

Apothéke in Manhattan, New York

10. Drinks are either exotic and expensive or really cheap.

When it comes to drinks it’s a bit black and white. Some hipster places will feature the most amazing and original drinks that sound like food made by professional mixologists who are dedicated to their craft. On the other hand hipsters can find these places too pretentious and prefer drinks for really cheap.

Le Bremner in Montreal, Quebec

11. It’s throwback comfort food with a twist.

Okay so I have 11 things, it’s okay to not follow the rules when I’m writing about hipster stuff anyways. The food is almost always homemade and an ode to comfort food. Yes, there are a lot of vegetarian and vegan hipsters, but they’re bordering on “hippie-hipster” (see 10 Characteristics of a Hippie Restaurant). Diets aren’t cool so hipsters will never admit to being on one. The “bad for you food” is eaten in small amounts and it’s how they stay so slim for those tighter fitting pants.

**If you’re restaurant has even half of these characteristics and you deny being a “hipster restaurant”, that almost makes you even more of one! And if you’ve heard or visited all of these restaurants and have said “that restaurant isn’t even that hipster, or hipster anymore”, you are likely one too.


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