Ecole Cafe (學校咖啡館) near Shida is one of my favorite places in Taipei. It is furnished with vintage school furniture from Germany, some still decorated with childish graffiti — and it has back issues of Monocle! I love Monocle and its advocacy of soft power and international diplomacy through the use of stunning, sexy, yet utterly practical modern design. My last few visits to Ecole have been with my laptop to work on articles, but hopefully I’ll be able to go back and just relax soon. It’s at 6, Ln 1, Qingtian St, Taipei City (台北市青田街1巷6號), tel: (02) 2322-2725 ext. 8206. Ecole Cafe hosts music performances and art shows in its basement; for a schedule, check out their blog.
Ecole has a large collection of CDs, which they keep out for customers to browse. A lot of cafes near Shida and Taida play really great music. I’ve discovered some awesome bands just by hanging out with a cup of tea. On the flip side, if a cafe plays John Mayer on repeat, run. (I’m sorry John Mayer fans, but I had to listen to him sing about how he’s invincible and wants to run around screaming at the top of his lungs when I had a summer job in a smoothie and wrap restaurant that played nothing but this stupid top 40s station and I truly believe there is a correlation between John Mayer songs, nasty food made using “generic beef product” and disgruntled employees. UGH! But I digress.)