Whether it's because you're hungover, or missing a taste of home, there are just those days when you wake up and say "damn, I really want a burger". But where to go that will best satisfy those cravings? These are the places in Seoul where the burgers don't come with bulgogi sauce (although that can be good from time to time), where the beef is juicy and just the right amount of cheese oozes out. And the fries? They're unforgettable, too.
You can tell by the makeshift wooden bench placed in front, that this place is pretty hipster. Can it mean a good thing? We’d say “hell, yeah,” in the case of Yankees Burger, a pretty colorful restaurant, busily and nonchalantly decorated with empty beer boxes and cans of jalapeños. Everything honestly seems makeshift, including the barely cushion-y cushions placed on each chair. Something about the rather chic-looking chefs here, quietly grilling patties and toasting the buns behind the kitchen counter, make us look forward to the quality. And, “yes,” we said to ourselves. The signature menu, the Mullae Burger exudes a beautiful aroma from the mix of freshly toasted oatmeal ciabatta buns and sautéed mushrooms with truffle oil. The buns are incredibly soft while the juicy patty, aromatic mushrooms and the savory spice from the salami create an intense combination of flavors that is hard to come across at other burger joints in the city. Upon asking the chef what makes him use all those costly ingredients in one burger, he shrugged his shoulders and simply said: “Well, they create good flavors.” Well, yes, you can’t deny it — it really does taste wonderful.
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.
At I am A Burger, you get to choose every aspect of your burger. You select the burger size (140g or 210g), type (eight different burgers) and bun (original, oatmeal and black). All three types of buns are baked fresh in-house every morning. When all the buns are gone, that's exactly when I am A Burger is done for the day. We're a big fan of the cheddar cheeseburger on an original bun. Topped with just cheese and grilled onions, satisfaction is found in its simplicity. The Maccicco burger with chili, jalapeños, onions, cheese and fried egg on an oatmeal bun is also fantastic when you want something a bit messier. Plain fries and cajun fries are available as are cheese and chili fries. It’s everything you expect to find at a proper burger joint.
Having only opened two years ago, this little burger joint in Daechi-dong has quickly gained a cult-like following. Their burgers are meaty, cooked to the ideal medium and are expertly seasoned. There are some unique burgers here, like the M.A.C. (mac ‘n’ cheese, cayenne pepper), as well as classic combos, like the Chili King (chili, cheese). Our personal favorite here is the Habana (jalapenos, mayo, cheese). It’s a simple, juicy burger with superb spicy mayo. The bun holds up well, and the toppings don't splat onto your plate right away. Their fries are light and crispy, and though the regular fries are good, we think the wedge fries are the winner. Cheese, chili and cheese, ranch sauce and bacon can be added for an additional charge. Best of all, Firebell makes great shakes. The flavors are uncomplicated, delicious, thick and creamy—the way shakes should be. All in all, this spot is well worth the trip for arguably Seoul's best burger.
Brooklyn the Burger joint, already famed for their succulent patties and rich milkshakes has recently started their fourth branch in Garosu-gil – this time making it a 24-hour, 7-days a week venture. Walk inside and you’ll immediately be struck with the retro American ‘50s style interior, fully furnished with plush mint green booth seats and chairs by the bar. Bite into a steak fry even before your burger comes out and the perfectly cooked, golden color will have you realizing that the actual food is itself more impressive than the interior. Burgers come available in five or seven ounce servings. While our personal favorite’s the classic “Brooklyn Works” (a classic offering of American cheese, bacon, lettuce, onion, tomato, pickles and homemade sauce), the restaurant does offer a variety of more creative burgers. Two talked about burgers are the cheese-oozing C.R.E.A.M (Cheddar Rules Everything Around Meat) and a crispy fish fillet burger called the Big Fish. However, perhaps the most important piece of advice we might be able to offer today is: save room for dessert. Brooklyn the Burger joint may be a burger joint, but they have 43 different milkshakes and ice cream variations that will definitely make you regret not having a sweet to top off the meal. The aroma of the Nutella and Burnt Marshmallow makes it one of the most popular dessert options but those eating to start out the night, several drinks like the Pepsi Vodka Float offer alcoholic variations on your favorite all
Only a few months old, Downtowner in Hannam-dong has already made quite a splash. Five burgers are listed on the menu, but there are really only three (cheese, bacon cheese and avocado) as two of them are double versions of the original. But what this place lacks in variety, it makes up for in price and a tasty selection of sides. Prices start at 6,800 won for a 120g patty cheeseburger, going up to 11,800 won for a double cheeseburger with double bacon. Downtowner also offers variations of fries, ranging from original to guacamole. The chicken strips, though, are perhaps the most interesting side on the menu. Purists will appreciate the buffalo chicken, but for something different, try the General Tso. Unfortunately, Downtowner doesn't serve shakes, but they do make up for it with an extensive selection of craft beers.
For a while, handmade burger joints seemed to be popping up everywhere. At some point during this fluorishing trend, Brooklyn the Burger Joint emerged to claim its place at the front of the pack. Amid fierce competition, only the fittest survive, and Brooklyn the Burger Joint is the fittest of the fittest. Located in a quiet residential alley, this snug little place can accommodate about 15-20 burger lovers. That being said, visiting at chow time can easily require some queing time. The patty, the burger’s very core, is made of 100% freshly minced beef every day. You can choose between a 140g smashed patty and a 200g hand formed patty. For a meaty and tender, not-too-thick burger that can be managed with one hand, opt for the smashed 140g. For those of you looking for something a little heftier, get the 200g patty for thick, juicy bites of beef. Our favorite burgers are the Brooklyn Works, an irresistible beauty with American cheese melting decadently on its beef, and the Cheese Skirt, with a gorgeous skirt of nutty, toasted cheddar cheese jutting out over the edges of the bun. As for drinks, you could always go with a classic coke, but we suggest taking advantage of their well-stocked beer menu or ordering one of their many delicious milkshakes.
Established in 2008, Gilbert Burger is one of the OG's of gourmet burgers in Seoul. It started with a small shop in Seocho-dong and expanded into several other locations in Seoul, including Itaewon, Gwanghwamun, Sinsa-dong and Samseong-dong. Gilbert Burger offers two patty sizes (140g and 200g) and 10 kinds of burgers to choose from. Notable burgers include the Juicy Cheesy (stuffed with cheese), the Green Light (pepperjack cheese, jalapeños, green chili and chipotle mayo) and the Rocket (blue cheese, gruyere, caramelized onions, arugula and bacon). The Gilbert Burger comes with sweet potato fries. In addition to their regular fries, you’ll also find onion rings, corn salad and chili on the menu. And a nice surprise? Root beer and Dr. Pepper floats.
It used to be that you could find a whole lotta Californians in Seoul, but not a single California burrito. All that’s changed now with the arrival of Cali Kitchen, opened by native Californian Chuck Chun. A businessman by trade but a chef at heart, Chuck was known for hosting small pop-ups in Seoul, cooking whichever hard-to-get foods he had a hankering for, be it Chipotle-style Mexican or Argentinian-style steak with chimichurri. Chuck decided to open CALI Kitchen this year to fill that Californian-Mexican hole in our hearts, and we couldn’t be happier about it. The menu is divided into two sides: on the left, you have the Cali Burger (which Chuck describes as “the love child of a Shake Shack burger and an In-n-Out burger”) and chili fries; on the right you have the burritos, including that famous California Burrito. Loaded with your typical beef burrito fixings plus fries, it’s a hefty meal that’s more filling than flavorful, but it has its fans (San Diego surfers chow down on these after a long day out on the waves). If you like your salsa with a lot of kick, Chuck sometimes has an extra spicy batch on hand that you can ask for. The chili is well worth noting: we couldn’t stop eating it off the fries (we’ll order the chili separately next time). It’s a mildly spiced recipe that’s full of meat, including a lot of steak. “Our butcher looks at us like we’re crazy when we ask him to grind up that quality meat,” Chuck laughs. But it’s this commitment to high quality ingredie
Opened four years ago by clothing designer Evan Seo, Two Broz was named after Seo's "brotherly" relationship with the hamburger. The restaurant, redolent of a 1950s diner, is often overlooked by passersby and is on the small side, but manages to consistently pack in crowds of loyal diners. The restaurant's medium sized burgers are grilled using special charcoal that cuts down on harmful chemicals and their ingredients are fresh and local, with the exception of the beef, which is imported from Australia. This attention to detail makes for a tasty burger, and while all are tasty, the Bacon Egg and the Mushroom Cheese are among the most popular items. Two Broz's menu and atmosphere may not be as creative as some of its craftier neighbors but the value of their food can't be matched when it comes to quality, taste and consistency.