124 Best Restaurants in Seoul, South Korea

Ahn Joon Soo Boribap

$ | Jamsil Fodor's choice

While this old-school eatery advertises itself as a boribap (barely rice) establishment, it's most famous for its bossam (steamed pork) set menu. If you're not in the mood for pork, you can also order courses of duck or kodari (semi-dried pollack), along with sides of ddeokgalbi (beef and onion patties), dotori mook (acorn jelly salad), and much more. When it comes time to order drinks, a bottle or two of the milky Korean rice wine known as makgeolli will do wonders to complement this rustic-style meal in the middle of the capital.

8-2, Baekjegobun-ro, 41 gil, Seoul, 05621, South Korea
02-416–0671
Known For
  • Rustic setting
  • Steamed pork and makgeolli
  • Extensive menu

All Mornings in the World

$ | Yeouido Fodor's choice

Set on the 50th floor of the FKI Tower, this see-and-be-seen restaurant made popular in the 2016 K-Drama series W is all about the views. The airy dining room is a mish-mash of glass, whitewashed steel, hanging plants, and a rustic, almost farm-like vibe, made more prevalent by waitstaff dressed in Little House on the Prairie–style garb. While known as a brunch restaurant with favorites like French toast, full English breakfast, and chicken and waffles, the menu also has a steady lineup of pasta, salads, and desserts. Reservations are taken a month in advance, and without one there can be a long wait—pass the time with a stroll in the building’s rooftop atrium garden.

24 Yeoui-daero, Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul, South Korea
02-2055–4442
Known For
  • Sweeping views of Seoul and the Han River
  • All-day brunch
  • Ample international wine selection
Restaurant Details
Rate Includes: Reservations recommended

Anthracite

$ | Hongdae Fodor's choice

A striking space built from a former shoe factory, this cafe opened its first location in Hapjeong-dong in 2010 and has since developed a reputation for its moody ambiance and aromatic coffees. Today, their signature beans—named after well-known writers Pablo Neruda, Natsume Soseki, and William Blake—can be found at several Anthracites across the city. Nearby is Anthracite’s Mangwon-dong location, a sunny, three-story cafe built into a residential home and furnished with polished wood furniture. Mangwon-dong’s quiet policy (speaking allowed in hushed voices only) makes it perfect for an afternoon with a book while the former is a better fit for an intimate coffee with a close friend. 

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Balwoo Gongyang

$$$$ | Jongno-gu Fodor's choice

The exquisite temple food at Balwoo Gonyang could convert the most diehard carnivore to vegetarianism—for the course of a meal at least. Cooking-monk Master Dae An's creative take on temple cuisine is as enlightening as it is creative. Each course introduces diners to different mountain herbs and Buddhist cooking techniques, reflecting Dae An's belief that food should be delicious, healthy, and fun. Some highlights of the ever-changing menu include ginseng with citron sauce, lotus-leaf rice, and a truffle-like mushroom soup. Not just for vegetarians, Balwoo Gongyang is for anyone wishing to expand their palate.

Berkeley Coffee Social

$ | Yongsan-gu Fodor's choice

A neighborhood institution better known for its friendly staff and welcoming space than its coffee per se, Berkeley Coffee Social offers Americanos, lattes, and a few non-caffeinated options. There is a wide communal table for remote workers looking to get some work done and couch seats for getting in some leisure time. The space is dog-friendly, so you’ll often see local residents stopping by with their pups on their afternoon walk.

Bicena

$$$$ | Jamsil Fodor's choice

On the 81st floor of the Lotte World Tower, this highly lauded fine dining restaurant serves elegantly prepared contemporary Korean fare with sky-high views. Multi-course lunch and dinner menus highlight local ingredients in everything from stuffed abalone to dry-aged striploin, every bite better than the last.

Cheolkil WangGalbissal

$ | Hongdae Fodor's choice

A long-time favorite of Hongdae partygoers, this Korean barbecue joint nestled alongside the long cheolkil (railroad tracks) focuses on galbi (beef ribs). Cuts of beef in your choice of sweetly marinated or lightly seasoned are cooked over wire mesh grills and served alongside their signature pot of bubbling doenjang-jjigae (soybean paste stew). The spacious two-story building accommodates large groups and you’ll often overhear reunions of high school friends or groups of co-workers celebrating with their favorite combination of meats and drinks. Open early and closed late, it’s a choice location to start out the night or grab an early breakfast as the sun comes up.

Coffee Hanyakbang

$ | Jung-gu Fodor's choice

The name of this tucked-away cafe, located in an incredibly narrow alley in Euljiro, means “traditional medicine room.” Visitors are charmed as much by the vintage lamps and traditional Korean furniture inside as by the single-origin coffee and baked goods. Items can be purchased on the first floor and there’s seating available on the first, second, and third floors of the establishment. The coffee itself may not be to everyone’s liking, but it's a must-see for the charming decor alone.

Ddobagi Chicken

$ | Hongdae Fodor's choice

With its consistent taste and reasonable prices, Ddobagi Chicken has the respect of fried chicken fanatics the city over. Its close proximity to the Han River means that many order Ddobagi to go and have chicken and beer picnics in the park during summertime. Plates of chicken are available at 10,000 for a single flavor and an extra 1,000 for half-and-half combinations. One of the most common orders is half regular fried and half yangyum (sweet and spicy) or soy–glazed chicken.

27, Wausan-ro, Seoul, South Korea
02-3142-0991
Known For
  • Sweet and spicy, regular, or soy-glazed fried chicken
  • To-go orders for picnics
  • Half and half flavor combos
Restaurant Details
Rate Includes: Closed Sun.

Eunjujeong

$ | Jung-gu Fodor's choice

In a small alley of Bangsan Market, this beloved and often crowded Korean barbecue and kimchi-jjiggae (kimchi stew) joint has separate menus for lunch and dinner: kimchi-jjiggae with ssam (assorted vegetables) by day and kimchi-jjiggae with samgyeopsal (pork belly) after 5 pm. By night the vibe changes, when the smell of barbecue fills the air and people chase their shots of soju with spoonfuls of kimchi. The lunchtime assortment is served with 10 kinds of vegetables; diners wrap the fatty pork from the stew into their choice of leafy green.

32 Changgyeonggung-ro 8-gil, Seoul, South Korea
02-2265–4669
Known For
  • Kimchi stew
  • Barbecue pork
  • Lively atmosphere at dinner
Restaurant Details
Rate Includes: Closed Sun.

Hakrim Dabang

$ | Jongno-gu Fodor's choice

Opened in 1965, Hakrim Dabang is widely considered the oldest running coffee shop in the area (dabangs are old-school Korean establishments that primarily served coffee and non-alcoholic drinks). Not much has changed since then, including the shelves of vinyl, vintage photographs of Seoul on the walls, and velvet lined seats; walking up the creaky, wooden stairs to the shop almost feels as if you’re traveling into the past. Its name is fitting as Hakrim, meaning “forest of learning,” was once where intellectuals gathered and students secretly organized. The Seoul Metropolitan Government designated Hakrim Dabang as a Seoul Future Heritage site for its role during the Democracy Movement, guaranteeing its preservation for future generations.

119 Daehak-ro, Myeongnyun 4(sa)ga, Seoul, South Korea
02-742–2877
Known For
  • Famous Vienna Coffee, an espresso drink served with dollops of cream
  • Signature crustless cheesecake dessert served with fruit preserves
  • Popular K-drama shooting location

Jeongdon

$ | Gangnam-gu Fodor's choice

This extremely popular restaurant takes donkas (Korea's version of Japanese pork cutlet), to a whole other level. If you think you've had good versions of the dish before, think again, because Jeongdon absolutely knocks it out of the park. Their signature dish is tenderloin donkas, with thick, succulent pieces of prime pork cut into medallions and cooked until still pink in the middle. The panko breading is perfectly crispy and the juicy flavor of each bite is heavenly. The restaurant's decor is Japanese retro with almost an American diner feel. Just make sure to have some time to spare, as there's almost always a line.  

Jungsik

$$$$ Fodor's choice

Chef Yim Jung-sik made waves with this restaurant that takes traditional Korean fare, such as bibimbap and gimbap (Korean sushi rolls) and transforms them into a fine dining experience. Jungsik specializes in course meals that draw from a variety of influences, but are always given a distinctly Korean touch. The service is kind, attentive, and discreet, the atmosphere chic, and the wine list is custom-curated to pair with the current menu. There is a reason why Michelin gave this place two stars.  

11 Seolleung-ro 158-gil, 06014, South Korea
02-5617–4654
Known For
  • Kind, attentive service
  • Multi-course meals with wine pairings
  • Chic atmosphere
Restaurant Details
Rate Includes: Reservations essential; reserve through \"Catch Table\" system: jungsik.kr/visit-2, Business casual (no jeans)

Kobachi

$$ | Jamsil Fodor's choice

The Jamsil branch of this upscale Japanese restaurant features elegant syokudo (a la carte) and teishoku (set menu) dishes including fresh sushi, pork cutlet, tempura, and sashimi rice bowls. Located in the basement of the Sofitel Ambassador hotel, Kobachi's sleek, minimalist interior perfectly complements the delicious, yet understated food. They also serve Japanese beers, highballs, and sakes from a nice list.

Migang Sikdang

$ | Jamsil Fodor's choice

If you're in the mood for some proper Korean barbecue pork, look no further: this highly rated eatery serves grilled samgyeopsal (pork belly) and moksal(pork collar) like nobody's business. The staff will make sure that your meat is grilled to perfection while you can sit back and enjoy the lively atmosphere. Not only are the cuts of meat fresh and thick, but the service is also top notch.

122 Baekjegobun-ro, Jamsilbon-dong, Seoul, 05574, South Korea
050-71470–4624
Known For
  • Great service
  • Fresh vegetable sides
  • Prime cuts of pork
Restaurant Details
Rate Includes: Reservations recommended.

Mijin

$$ | Jongno-gu Fodor's choice

Cold buckwheat noodles are the specialty at this famed Gwangwahmun staple, where there's usually a wait to get inside. Despite its Michelin-star status the restaurant is nothing fancy, but visitors often take their food to-go and eat at the nearby Cheonggyecheon Stream.

Mingles

$$$$ | Gangnam-gu Fodor's choice

Traditional Korean cooking "mingles" flawlessly with new techniques at this fine dining restaurant, where exquisite preparations of quality ingredients make for an extra special lunch or dinner. This is the high-end experience for which Gangnam is known, so it's a must if you're looking for the place to indulge in the luxury of the neighborhood.

Mokmyeonsanbang

$ | Jung-gu Fodor's choice

Although bibimbap (rice with mixed vegetables) is sometimes disregarded as an introductory Korean dish, the iteration served at Mokmyeonsanbang proves that there is an art to crafting this dish. There are six different types of bibimbap on the menu, each made with meticulously sourced ingredients like sesame oil, fresh vegetables, and local rice. While all the restaurant’s dishes are well-executed, the signature bibimbap is a vegetarian classic and the beef tartare bibimbap is likely one of the best in the country. It can take more than two hours to get into this restaurant, so avoid peak lunch times or have your meal to-go.

Mongtan

$$ | Yongsan-gu Fodor's choice

A popular Korean barbecue restaurant near Samgakji Station, sophisticated Mongtan produces their unique flavor by pre-cooking meat over straw before the final finish on a pan grill. There is an in-house butcher of sorts, and visitors can watch as their cuts of meat are pulled from the fridge and scored before cooking. While the restaurant serves a mean samgyeopsal (pork belly), their specialty is the woodae-galbi (aged, bone-in beef ribs) which is a slightly sweet, smoky meat served with charred scallion and a thick rice-cake. Naengmyeon (cold, buckwheat noodles) and doenjang-jjigae (soybean paste stew) are common additions to the meal. While there is little to complain about in terms of taste and service, a table is difficult to come by and waits can take up to two hours.

Namdaemun Gamegol Son Wang Mandu

$ | Jung-gu Fodor's choice

Arguably the best cheap wang mandu (king-size dumplings) in Seoul can be ordered at this restaurant in Namdaemun Market, where customers line up for pink take-out boxes from the front counter. The restaurant has two signature types of dumplings: kimchi with a spicy kick, and plain meat with juiciness in each bite. At first, it may seem like the establishment is take-out only but you can eat-in by entering past the counter. You’ll pass the kitchen of busy dumpling-makers and be led upstairs to either the second or third floor. The restaurant also serves kalguksu (knife-cut noodles), shrimp mandu, and galbi (short-rib) mandu, but you can’t go wrong by sticking to the classics. You might have to make an extra effort to get someone to help you but the prices, at ₩4,000 for a plate of dumplings, truly make up for the lack of service. 

Namusairo

$ | Jongno-gu Fodor's choice

Although Seoul’s love of coffee has now boomed in the past decade, and the city often tops lists of most cafes per capita, Namusairo was a game changer when it first opened its doors in 2002. The cafe (its name means “through the trees”) boasts specialty beans from all over the world and an airy, elegant aesthetic. Built around a hanok, the cafe has a modern storefront that hides a traditional Korean setting. In recent years, the cafe’s owner Bae Jun-sun has become even more involved in the sourcing of his beans, and the cafe’s Instagram outlines each coffee’s origins and the stories of its farmers.

Nanumi Tteokbokki

$ | Jongno-gu Fodor's choice

A local institution since 1989, this bunsik (Korean snack foods) shop is widely considered to serve the best tteokbokki (hot and spicy rice cake) in all of Seoul. Barring pandemic restrictions, they are open 24 hours, but no matter when you go, there will always be a line of people.

9-1 Sungkyunkwan-ro, Myeongnyun 2(i)ga, Seoul, South Korea
02-747–0881
Known For
  • Busan eo-muk (fish cake skewers) served with a brush for soy sauce
  • Bright green bunsik plates
  • Speedy service

Palais de Chine

$$$$ | Jung-gu Fodor's choice

Set in a beautiful dining room that evokes 1930s Shanghai, this elegant Chinese restaurant in L'Escape Hotel is a favorite among Seoulites. Bold and spicy Sichuan flavors punctuate the menu, which is filled with delectable elevated classics and dim sum. The signature 42-day-old, applewood roasted Peking duck has a crispy skin and is prepared tableside.

Parc

$ | Itaewon Fodor's choice

This casual Korean eatery takes the statement “mother’s cooking is best” to a whole other level. Opened in 2013, Parc combines Korean home cooking, inspired by the owner-chef’s mother, with modern aesthetics. Since the restaurant aims to use ingredients in season, the menu changes every few months with a handful of exceptions. The 7 namuls platter, Parc’s take on bibimbap, and the galbi (grilled beef ribs) are two safe bets. The restaurant is known for their banchan (side dishes) and, unlike many Korean home cooking restaurants, always have one or two vegan options on the menu.

Sanchon

$$$ | Jongno-gu Fodor's choice

Sanchon offers guests a chance to experience traditional Korean temple cooking in a beautifully decorated hanok house. Sanchon was one of the first restaurants to expand temple cooking into complex multi-course meals. While the food is quite good, the décor and the traditional Korean performances in the evening take center stage. Although it is open for lunch, visit in the evening to get the full experience.

Tosokchon Samgyetang

$ | Jongno-gu Fodor's choice

Reputed to have Seoul's best samgyetang (Korean chicken soup), this tourist favorite, set in a group of traditional houses, is best recognized by the lines that form outside during lunch. While it is best to go between the lunch and dinner rushes, Tosokchon's signature samgyetang is worth the wait. The chicken used here is not oily in the least and the stuffing of over 30 different herbs and grains as well as ginseng, garlic, and jujube make it a filling and healthy meal. Just keep in mind that this is not the place to go for a selection of Korean food as samgyetang is nearly the only thing on the menu.

5 Jahamun-ro 5-gil, Seoul, South Korea
02-737–7444
Known For
  • Atmospheric, traditional setting
  • Kkakdugi (radish kimchi)
  • Classic chicken soup
Restaurant Details
Rate Includes: Reservations not accepted

Tteuran Tea House

$ | Jongno-gu Fodor's choice

A neighborhood institution, Tteuran—meaning inner garden—opened its doors in 2009 long before Ikseon-dong became the tourist hot spot it is today. The traditional tea house inside in a hanok is owned by Kim Ae-ran, a woman who personally worked on the building's renovation and still runs the cafe’s register on a daily basis. In addition to Korean teas, Tteuran has traditional Korean treats such as danpatjuk (sweet red bean porridge) and patbingsu (shaved ice topped with sweet red beans). While you'll find many variations around the city, few establishments excel in the beloved summertime dessert like Tteuran. Take a seat facing the garden, left of the main entrance, and enjoy its vibrant colors over authentic Korean flavors.

Ver’s Garden

$ | Hongdae Fodor's choice

Both a flower shop and cafe, Ver’s Garden is a green oasis owned and operated by plant-lover Kim Sung-soo. While floral design changes with the seasons, the two-story space is a constantly growing home to monsteras, ivies, and pilea that offers coffee, herbal teas, and desserts. The cafe’s quiet corners are ideal for studying or remote working, but if you’re coming on a warm day just to relax make sure to grab a seat outdoors. Shaded by overhanging white sheets billowing in the wind, the cafe has tables on the second floor terrace looking out onto the Gyeongui Line Railroad Park as well as seats in the garden on the first floor. Don’t forget to wave hello to resident dog, Bandal: the cafe is pet-friendly and you’ll often see one or two furry friends running around.

Yeonhui Gimbap

$ | Hongdae Fodor's choice

Although the humble gimbap (rice and various fillings wrapped in seaweed) is not typically a dish that one would go out of the way for, Yeonhui Gimbap in its Yeonhui-dong headquarters is worth going the extra mile. Known for its creative fillings like the extra-spicy squid and braised beef in soy sauce, the hole-in-the-wall gimbap joint has locations all over the country thanks to its success here. There are several locations in Yeonhui-dong alone and no seating at the original location, but the gimbap here is one of the best cheap meals in the city.

2, Yeonhui-ro 11ga-gil, Seoul, South Korea
02-323–8090
Known For
  • Gimbap
  • Cheap and delicious dishes
  • No seating at this location
Restaurant Details
Rate Includes: Closed Wed.

Yri Cafe

$ | Hongdae Fodor's choice

Though Yri Cafe offers little of the minimalist design and photogenic, colorful drinks that hip, new cafes in the area have begun to specialize in, the venue is one of the few places to encapsulate the independent, down-to-earth spirit of the neighborhood. Offering a simple selection of coffees and teas, the cafe is strewn with hundreds of books and local zines and decorated with portraits of Korean activists and intellectuals. Film directors, novelists, and painters still come here to meet in groups and on weekdays, you can see writers hunched over their laptops until the wee hours of the night. The cafe hosts a wide array of events such as book talks, art exhibitions, and film screenings.