Ten years ago, finding a taco in Seoul - no matter the quality, was a big deal. Now with the explosion of Mexican restaurants that have happened over the past few years, we can afford to get a little picky when it comes to la comida. Which places have just the right amount of zest? Where can you get that lime tang? Those tacos where grease will stain your fingers afterwards? Time Out Seoul investigates.
Gusto Taco started out as a four person restaurant right near Hongik University. We still remember the crowds outside and the disappoint of hopeful customers wanting one of Aaron's famous tacos when they sold out at 8pm. Luckily for all of them and for all of us, he started another branch right next to Sangsu station. Aaron is still Aaron, friendly, talkative and always up to recommend you a taco. He runs the place with his wife, Hye Jin. Often for first timers, we hear him say "the pork tacos are our best seller" and with the combination of their perfected shell and spice, they are the sought after menu item. Nowadays, the menu has expanded and we predict the hot item this summer to be the latest addition to the list - the new Gusto Taco grilled steak tacos, quesadillas and fajita platters. The burrito bowls are also fantastic for anyone on a low-cab diet. Currently ranked number 3 out of 13,859 restaurants in Seoul, they certainly deserve their title as one of the best in the city.
There’s a new speakeasy in town, and its name comes straight from the 1920 law that kicked off the Prohibition Era in the U.S. In keeping with its namesake, Volstead recently opened in a basement space at the bottom of an unmarked staircase, though plenty of people are already beating a path to its door—expect crowds on weekends. They come for the relaxed, unpretentious atmosphere, quality cocktails at sensible prices, and a menu that is upping the ante for Mexican food in Seoul. Chef D, who hails from Los Angeles, serves carnitas tacos, chimichangas with green chili sauce, nachos, tamales and more, all inspired by his family’s cooking but with his own twist. As far as ingredients go, he’s liberal with onion, spices and lime (a notoriously difficult fruit to source here). Is it roaring twenties cocktail food? Not quite, but who cares—it’s packed with flavor. The menu is flexible enough for both diners looking for a meal and drinkers looking for a snack. Fans of cocktails will appreciate the rotating drink menu at Volstead—managers Alex and Justin update the menu every night to get creative with seasonal ingredients. The team has clearly put a lot of work into the venue, but you also get the feeling they’ve had a lot of fun doing it—exactly what you want a speakeasy to be.
Craving some of that street vendor taco? The kind you used to get on the streets with your friends when still drunk with your friends at 2am? Paco Loco is the place for you. It's not much of a looker with its blank white wall interior and its view of the busy Noksapyeong streets, but here, you can actually see the grease from inside the pork taco, just the way it's supposed to be. Their menu is quite straightforward. Burritos or tacos? Hard shell or soft shell? Whatcha want inside? However, the explosion of taste when you take your first bite is less simple to explain. We recommend the chorizo burrito. Packed with onions, cilantro and other spices, it has just the right amount of cheese oozing inside that you won't regret it afterwards.Take the nachos with the salsa and add a bit of their hot sauce. Lick the delicious grease off your fingers and wash it down our choice of Mexican beer, Tecate. Muy bien!