Restaurants

The best places to eat in Seoul—restaurants and cafés reviewed by our local experts

Varieties, varieties, varieties — discover your favorite Hong Kong dish in Seoul
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Varieties, varieties, varieties — discover your favorite Hong Kong dish in Seoul

Hong Kong cuisine has been bridging the east and west in its delicate and justifiably famous world of flavors. Incorporating an impressive variety of fresh ingredients and cooking methods it is certainly one that offers something for everyone, remaining the favorite of millions of people. Check out our list of places in Seoul offering delicious Hong Kong eats and discover your favorite dish.

"Eat often and eat well" at these Taiwanese restaurants in Seoul
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"Eat often and eat well" at these Taiwanese restaurants in Seoul

Who'd say 'no' to Taiwanese food? Although it's not possible to get all the varieties and depths of the rich and delicious national cuisine, there are a few locations now in Seoul to find some comforting dishes that the beautiful island nation has to offer. 

Best home-cooked Korean restaurants in Seoul
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Best home-cooked Korean restaurants in Seoul

On a wooden tray, banchan, soup and rice are presented to you in neat separate dishes, reminiscent of home.

JOSEPHS Korea Modern Korean Pop-up
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JOSEPHS Korea Modern Korean Pop-up

Joseph Lidgerwood has been a deeper-than-expected culinary journey in Korea — finding rare, quality ingredients, throwing incredible pop-ups in his own brand and presenting collaborative projects with other skilled chefs based in Seoul. Soon, this young chef with over a decade's experience from around the world is headed to Napa’s The French Laundry. The series of modern Korean pop-up starting on March 25 will be Lidgerwood’s last events before he embarks on the new career. Each seating is limited to 16 guests. In an intimate and emotive setting, guests will experience a radical and serendipitous balance created with locally-sourced ingredients, including native rabbits and Aralia elata shoots (dureup). Also delicately plated will be the stories and techniques which Lidgerwood has explored by traveling all over the peninsula, this time traditional Korean Buddhist cuisine which he experimented with Ven. Wonhae at Gounsa temple of Uiseong County. There are total 8 seatings, every Saturday and Sunday, from March 25 until April 26th. Each ticket is priced at 120,000 won.

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Seoul's hottest cafés on social media right now
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Seoul's hottest cafés on social media right now

The most important thing for a café in Seoul these days is that the coffee needs to be of the best quality – afterall, Seoulites have acquired a taste for the drink. But in order to stay in business, a whole culture and story needs to be wrapped around the coffee. It’s a mixture of great coffee and a great ambience that people are looking for, which is why some of Seoul’s creative cafés have developed industrial and minimal interiors to continue attracting their clientele. From Bonanaza Coffee that made its way from Berlin to the always crowded Daelim Changgo (Daelim Warehouse) in the area that’s referred to as Seoul’s Brooklyn, these places serve some of Seoul’s best coffee and have a vibe that stays in your memory.

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Our Bakery
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Our Bakery

Our Bakery, located near Dosan Park, is without a doubt one of the hottest coffee and bread places on social media right now. The bakery began as a collaborative project of stylist Seo Hanyoung (known for her high-fashion styling work with several K-pop stars including Boa and 2NE1) and food culture brand CNP Food. Hence, it's no surprise that it first gained its fame through the many celebrities that came to check out and hang out at the place — after a while, however, it's become a hot spot among all types of Seoulites looking for great bread and coffee. Its selection of bread is quite wide — among which, the pastries may remind you of Le Alaska's, while some other types of bread are similar to what Hongdae's Paul & Paulina makes. The most popular items here are the Tiramisu with a great balance between fresh cream and pastry, the well-layered Dirty Chocolate and the Butter Pretzels made with gourmet butter. Our Bakery is also well known for their specialty coffees, which go perfectly with all the scrumptious pastry options, making the place stand out in the huge competition in the Dosan Park district (it’s still not easy to find a place with decently-priced coffee made from quality ingredients, especially in an area known to be quite ritzy). The coffee machine used here is of the Netherlands' Kees Van Der Westen (a brand known to take pride in its excellent design and functionality), while the grinder is from Compak. Different beans are selected during each season, with t

El Pino 323
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El Pino 323

There is a reason why El Pino 323 isn’t located in a bustling, up-and-coming part of the city — only a couple of months since its opening, this restaurant is offering up hearty, unpretentious creations with a dash of self-confidence which is well supported and proven by a constant flow of a serious fan base.

Time Out says
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Felt Coffee
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Felt Coffee

Think of yourself as a trendy and up to date coffee enthusiast? If so, you’ll probably know about the ‘Eunpa Piano’ sign in Changcheon-dong. It’s where Felt Coffee is located - inside a former piano training school. Although the two baristas (Kim Young-hyun and Song Dae-woong) opened this place equipped with various equipment, they kept the small space modest and simple. More emphasis on its coffee and less on the looks, you’ll know what this means once you pay a visit to Felt Coffee. The main drinks served at Felt Coffe are the espresso, Americano, and brewed (hand dripped) coffee. The 3,000 won Americano is not just affordable but of high quality as Felt Coffee only uses authentic specialty coffee beans, all of which are roasted in house. The Coffee beans vary depending on season but regardless, they are all harmonized in flavor, acidity, viscosity, and sweetness. The brewed hand dripped coffee made with the Alto Air dripper is strongly recommended as you will be able to smell and taste the aromatic sweetness with each sip. Fo the beans that are being used, the sl28 beans (brought directly from the Herbazu coffee farm in Costa Rica) leave a lasting impression. These beans are the result of Kenya’s beans and Costa Rica’s rich soil, bringing a whole new tropical flavor and sweetness of juicy fruit. The Costa Rica-Kenya coffee is a fairly experimental one, run only in a few coffee farms around the world. Thanks to the trust earned by Felt Coffee through its direct coffee impo

Itaewon The Burger
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Itaewon The Burger

A relatively new comer to the growing burger scene in Seoul, Itaewon the Burger has been on full throttle since its start, receiving high praise from many. There isn’t anything fancy about the restaurant, and you might even have some difficulty if you're looking to take an Instagram-worthy shot here. Nonetheless, Itaewon the Burger makes nice and fatty burgers, which for some of us is all we need. Using Australian beef (7:3 ratio of chuck and brisket, respectively), they make their own patties twice a day, then charcoal-grill them. The restaurant began with 6 types of burgers on their menu, and recently has added 4 creative new flavors for the more adventurous ones. The Grilled Shrimp Burger, which was recommended by the staff, had a good amount of spice which balanced out its grease (in all fairness, the burger wasn’t overly greasy and was perfectly juicy). The shrimp had great flavors that pop in your mouth, although it was a little covered up by the rest of the amazing flavors going on. The Cherry Cream Cheese Burger, as you can suspect, had interesting flavors. The burger had a thick layer of cream cheese that added a rich texture, while the cherry, thankfully, wasn’t too sweet. Both burgers at Itaewon the Burger were flavorful enough that they didn't require ketchup or mustard in them. If you know that one burger isn’t going to be enough to fill your stomach, try pairing it with a side of freshly fried Chili Cajun Fries.

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars

Take your pick: restaurants by theme

5 Seoul restaurants for all your fish & chips need
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5 Seoul restaurants for all your fish & chips need

When it comes to this classic comfort food, it's often a matter of needs rather than wants. Here are 5 restaurants where you can find the crispy, juicy and fluffy goodness in the city.

Yummy avocado dishes and where to get them in Seoul
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Yummy avocado dishes and where to get them in Seoul

It's too easy to love avocados, and we just can’t get enough of them. Check out our list of restaurants in Seoul offering up these green fruits with a tangy and savory twist.

The best cheap eats in Seoul
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The best cheap eats in Seoul

Here at Time Out Seoul, we love to eat well (obviously) and we love to eat out. But as much as we appreciate wining and dining, we’re beyond grateful for the vast array of cheap eats available in Seoul. From kimbaps that keep us satiated and satisfied when it’s been too long since our last paycheck to some of the best bánh mi and Moroccan in the country, these cheap eats keep us eating (while allowing us to pay our rent at the same time).  

Where to eat the best bagels in Seoul
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Where to eat the best bagels in Seoul

New york-style bagels and where to get em'

Seoul's Korean style pork cutlet joints worth travelling for
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Seoul's Korean style pork cutlet joints worth travelling for

Deep-fried pork cutlet, that brown sauce and shredded cabbage with dressing — it's nothing fancy but certainly what we miss at times.

7 Japanese ramen joints you should visit in Seoul
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7 Japanese ramen joints you should visit in Seoul

The slurps and chirps of a big, steaming bowl of ramen will help you get through this winter, for sure. We’ve compiled a list of the major players in Seoul as well as the minors that are worth a try.

Best places for Korean BBQ

Tuppul Deungshim
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Tuppul Deungshim

You’ll find Korean barbecue in every neighborhood of Seoul—but places that serve the highest quality of hanwoo (Korean beef) are harder to find. Tuppul, from the same parent company that brought us Samwon Garden, Blooming Garden and Butcher’s Cut, is Korean barbecue taken to the next level. Service is on par with decent hotel dining, and the wine list is extensive. But most importantly, the meat is top-notch, and contrary to all expectation, the prices are not painful, considering that it’s hanwoo. The aged sirloin is a specialty here, and not to be missed. For those of you with less time (and tighter budgets), a lunch set of hanwoo bulgogi is just 10,000 won.With locations on Garosugil and in Nonhyeon-dong, the Itaewon location is their fourth in Seoul.

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
Maple Tree House, Itaewon
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Maple Tree House, Itaewon

When you walk along the street behind Itaewon Hamilton Hotel, you’ll see a row of windows that are wide open and through which there’ll be groups of foreigners grilling meat. It might be the unlikely geographical location of Maple Tree House in Itaewon, or the modern interior that doesn’t look like your typical Korean BBQ place. Whatever the reason may be, one thing that’s for sure is that it has captivated the hearts of Koreans and foreigners alike. There’s always a 50:50 ratio among customers. It’s also a popular spot for workers to go for their company get-togethers. The signature Maple Tree House dish is the aged hanwoo (Korean premium beef) sirloin. The thinly sliced beef loin that comes with a savory sauce is also a favorite house dish. When they open up all their windows in the evening, a cool breeze blows through, making it the perfect setting to enjoy your Korean BBQ and Heineken beer.

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
Byeokje Galbi
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Byeokje Galbi

This hanwoo (Korean beef) specialty restaurant that uses high-quality domestic beef and has a diverse range of sidedishes. While the prices are a bit steep, they have the best cuts and are known for their quality service as well. Visiting once will make you a returning visitor. 

Gaehwaok
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Gaehwaok

There was recently a time when Korean restaurants fell out of favor with the fickle Korean youth. In that respect, Gaehwaok was a Korean restaurant that was ahead of its time. In 2004, when young people frequented Italian restaurants and Illy coffee shops, it opened on a corner of a run-down alley with a completely different atmosphere from traditional Korean restaurants. It was sophisticated yet restrained, and simple but finely presented. Thankfully, their foresight was rewarded and they've become quite successful, relocating to a new venue in Sinsa-dong in 2010. This place is more spacious than the previous restaurant, with a more modern interior. The spaciousness has robbed a bit of the more comfy atmosphere, but the food presented in finely crafted in brass tableware, the steamed corn and baked garlic amuse-bouches are still as welcoming as ever. Beef tartare, roast brisket with seasoned vegetables, and bulgogi are some of their more popular menus. We also can't get enough of the doenjang noodles. It's just a simple broth made from anchovies and doenjang, with some rough noodles thrown in—it honestly isn't much to look at, but somehow they get the flavors just right. Gaehwaok is the kind of place where you could pair Korean food with wine and no one would bat an eye (take that as you will). It's also great for special gatherings.

Best restaurants by cuisine

The best Korean restaurants in Seoul
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The best Korean restaurants in Seoul

Trust us, this is not your chain kimbap store. From hot bubbling stews served with steaming, sticky rice to the best cold noodles to more traditional Korean dishes like samgaetyang (Korean-style chicken soup), these Korean restaurants are the ones that make ahjusshis confess their mothers aren't the best cooks in town. Bring your Korean friends and their parents, even! 

The best Italian restaurants in Seoul

The best Italian restaurants in Seoul

Expats that have lived in Seoul for a few years know the real struggle to find authentic Italian food here. For too long, the carbonara has been drenched in cream, the bolognese coated in sugar and cheese limited to American. Finally, we have a few restaurants where we can actually take our Italian friends and proudly say buon appetito! 

Craving Japanese food?
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Craving Japanese food?

With Japanese food & drink in Seoul being as common as Korean in Los Angeles, good restaurants of our neighbor aren't that hard to find. Filled with good sake, chewy, soothing noodles and Japanese-style skewers, even the the average isn't bad. However, start becoming a stickler for authencity and quality and the list of best drops down to a few names. And the names are as follows.  

Where to eat Thai food in Seoul
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Where to eat Thai food in Seoul

What can account for the boom in Seoul's Thai food restaurants? Of course, their sweet and savory dishes are delicious, but how has that discovery landed upon Korea's capital? Perhaps one main reason is the growing number of Koreans traveling to Thailand and finding the cuisine simply irresistable. Seoulites are crazier now for authentic Thai food than they've ever been in the past. With the quantity of Thai restaurants growing, it's inevitable that the competition amongst these restaurants will grow stiffer. Who has the best pad thai? Which places offer green curry that's made with the freshest coconut milk and chili peppers? Time Out Seoul finds out. 

The best Chinese restaurants in Seoul
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The best Chinese restaurants in Seoul

You probably already know all about Chinese-Korean fast food: jjajangmyeon, those thick noodles slathered in unctuous black bean sauce, and fiery jjambbong noodles. They're a go-to quick meal found on any street corner or even delivered right to your door. But Chinese cuisine has so much more to offer, whether it's Peking duck, red pork belly, a dozen ways to cook scallops, or a plethora of dim sum options (don't get us started on the dumplings). So skip the noodles for now and dig into these delicious mainland dishes—and hey, most of these places also serve jjajangmyeon if you're really craving it.

Where to get good French food in Seoul
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Where to get good French food in Seoul

Some say that once you study abroad in Paris, it destroys you for life. Part of that reason is the country's culinary artistry which often tops lists when we talk about must-have cuisines. The growing number of exchange students and travelers to the country get glossy eyed just talking baguettes, cheeses and charcuterie. To meet those needs are these praised French restaurants which offer some authentically French food to French inspired to French with a Korean twist. French food in Seoul's not limited to Seorae Village anymore. Bon appetit! 

Best cafés by neighborhood

The best cafés in Itaewon
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The best cafés in Itaewon

The best cafés in Jongno and Myeongdong
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The best cafés in Jongno and Myeongdong

The best cafés in Hongdae
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The best cafés in Hongdae

The best cafés in Gangnam
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The best cafés in Gangnam

Best restaurants by neighborhood

The best restaurants in Itaewon
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The best restaurants in Itaewon

Long reputed to be one of the most delicious neighborhoods in Seoul, Itaewon is particularly known for foreign food. Expats and travelers can come here to get a taste of home while Koreans might come seeking something from their travels. Here's the inside scoop on which places are authentic and just plain delicious. 

The best restaurants in Gangnam
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The best restaurants in Gangnam

Gangnam is chock full of delicious places to eat. However, this area south of the river doesn't have as many "food alleys" and designated areas for specific cuisines. Since Gangnam spreads out further, it may involve driving or taking cabs out of the way. Here are the restaurants that we can guarantee to be good and worth the price. 

The best restaurants in Jongno and Myeongdong
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The best restaurants in Jongno and Myeongdong

With so many good restaurants in the Jongno and Myeongdong neighborhood, it's often overwhelming to have to pick just one. How do you narrow it down? How can you stop from getting caught in a tourist trap? We have our list of authentic Korean eats as well as delicious international cuisines of these neighborhoods.   

The best restaurants in Hongdae
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The best restaurants in Hongdae

There are so many things to do in the Hongdae area. Everything from live music to cat cafes, but where to eat after or before? Time Out Seoul has the inside scoop.