An urban oasis

I’m surrounded by soft hues of magenta, tangerine, ochre, lavender and teal. Pillows are piled high. There are candles on every table, and my favorite magazines are within arm’s reach.

The late morning sun is creating a magnificent aura that is only enhanced by the sounds of reggae in the background – I’ve got a giant latte in hand. Ahhh….  The place is as laid back as my own living room. And in true Helsinki style, I’m surfing the net at super high speed (gratis).

Welcome to Moko. An oasis in Helsinki. Part cafe. Part lifestyle boutique. An all around interior showpiece, that today is serving as my home away from home, and my office away from the office.

I’m happy.

Moko Market and Cafe opened its doors in September of 2006 and from day one has drawn a steady crowd from the production companies, ad agencies and creative studios that have cropped up in the neighborhood in recent years. As with most eclectic gems in Helsinki, it’s a bit off the beaten path for mainstream tourists which is part of its magic. It’s truly a neighborhood find.

Lunch time sets the place a buzz. Well clad (in a boho chic kind of way) Finns, Brits, Sweds and a few Americans make up the crowd today. The communal tables add to the suddenly bustling and super friendly atmosphere. The lunch fare is a healthy mix of salads, yummy sandwiches, fruit smoothies, specialty pasta and ‘soup du jour’ – all reasonably priced and made daily with the freshest, organic ingredients.

A full-sized, hand-crafted playhouse for little ones co-exists alongside vintage furniture, travel books, gourmet food products and home accessories. This attracts the fashionable mom/baby crowd for a bit of coffee, conversation and playtime, and keeps the place lively and kind of homey all afternoon.

But, for me the piece de résistance is tucked in a nook in the center of the space. A charming meeting room that I can only describe as ‘rustic cottage meets grandma’s dining room’.  You can reserve it at a moment’s notice. And like the WIFI, it’s gratis. Just order in goodies from the cafe and you’re all set.

As the music shifts from reggae to jazz, and the sunlight’s warmth starts to fade, I realize that I’ve hardly noticed the hours passing by. I’ve cracked through 100 emails, got the majority of a presentation written, bought some needed candles for the home, and got to share with you my experience. What a lovely way to spend a day out of the office.

I think I’ll be back tomorrow.

Moko Market and Cafe, Perhemiehenkatu 10, Helsinki
Map here.
Opening hours: 9-18 weekdays, 10-17 Saturdays

And while you’re in the Moko neighborhood…here are some other favorites.

Cafe Carusel – a great place right on the sea to catch some rays with a beer (or coffee) in hand.  And on those less than perfect days you can cozy around inside by the fireplace.  Free WIFI to boot.  Map here.

Neighborhood of Eira – beautiful old homes, some spectacular sea views and en route by foot to Cafe Carusel.  Map here.

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