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Best Restaurants and Bars in Gangnam, Seoul
Gangnam is honestly not the best part of Seoul if you're looking for good dining and drinking establishments. Itaewon has much better food, and Hongdae has better nightlife. However, if you live in the vicinity of Gangnam Station, and you're looking to grab a bite to eat or a cold beer without having to leave the area, here are some of your options, complete with directions.
Since Korean restaurants are everywhere and I personally find Korean food pretty unremarkable, this list does not include any Korean restaurants. If you want samgyeopsal or bulgogi, just go outside and walk into the first building you see. There is about an 80 percent chance it's a Korean barbecue joint.
One last thing: Watch out for outdated reviews and lists (including this one, once it has been around for a while). Seoul's restaurants and bars, even popular ones, frequently close down with little warning. Some of the places you read about online might not exist anymore.
Oktoberfest is my favorite place in Gangnam, and one of my favorite places in all of Seoul. There are other locations throughout the city, though--Jongno, Sinchon, and Mapo--so you don't have to come to Gangnam just for this place. Oktoberfest is a microbrewery that serves four styles of decent beer along with surprisingly good German-style food.
The beers are a pilsner, a weiss, and a dunkel. You can also get a "Radler," which is the weiss mixed with lemonade. I've never tried the Radler, but the three beers themselves are all fairly good. They would be pretty mediocre by American or European standards, but in Korea, this is some of the best beer you can get. The weiss is the most popular, and I rather enjoyed the dunkel. They are all pleasantly drinkable.
The food at Oktoberfest is quite good, too. The bierwurst was one of my favorites, and the grilled pork knuckle was another highlight. It's kind of expensive, but if you have a few people to share with, it's quite tasty.
In October, they have an event where you can get all-you-can-drink beer for ₩10,000. It goes on for the whole month at one location at a time, lasting a week at each location. Get there early, because it will be crowded, but it's a great deal if you like to drink a lot of beer.
Directions: From exit 9, go down the second street on the right. You will see Oktoberfest on your right. It's in the basement.
This is another chain that has various locations throughout Seoul. W Burger makes one of the better burgers in Seoul. They use Australian wagyu beef and good, fresh ingredients. There are all the typical extra toppings to choose from, including bacon, cheese, and chili. I like W Burger quite a bit, but I have seen some very glowing reviews of this place that give it more credit than it deserves. For one thing, the burger patty is pretty small. The burger looks big, but most of it is lettuce. I will say that the lettuce and tomato are very fresh and tasty, however. I also remember a certain review claiming that the sauce is excellent and that they use just the right amount. Actually, the burger is absolutely drenched in sauce, which seems to me like a strange way to present what is supposed to be high quality meat. The flavor of the sauce is very sweet and tangy. Nothing bad, I'd just rather not cover up the taste of the meat.
Don't take all that to mean I don't recommend W Burger. They make a tasty burger, and it's a great lunch option.
Directions: From exit 11, turn right down any of the side streets, then left onto the next road that runs parallel to the Gangnamdaero. W Burger will be on your left, about a block past Johnny Rocket's.
It's tough to find decent Mexican food in Seoul, and Tomatillo is not exactly authentic, but it's a great place to eat nonetheless. Located in Yeoksam Station under the Gangnam Finance Center, this is a Chipotle-type Mexican grill that does tacos, burritos, quesadillas, tostadas, and nachos, along with a few other side dishes. Pick your dish, then choose from chicken, pork, steak, or shrimp (steak and shrimp cost a little extra) and pick your toppings. The tacos are the best thing on the menu: at ₩3,800, they are pretty overpriced, but they are the best tacos in Korea that I know of. They're pretty good-sized for tacos, and they have a good balance of meat, onions, cilantro, and hot sauce. The nachos aren't bad, but don't order a side of salsa. It tastes pathetic, and you will only get a tiny plastic cup of it. The tortilla chips are delicious, though. They also serve bottled beer, including Dos Equis.
Directions: In Yeoksam Station, go up the first escalator towards exits 1 and 2, but instead of going up the next escalator to the exits, keep going and go into the Gangnam Finance Center Mall on the left. Tomatillo is in there. Alternatively, from inside the Gangnam Finance Center building, just take the escalator in the lobby down to get to the mall.
The map marker is not exactly accurate, since there is no way to manually place a marker, and GFC's address is not recognized. The building that Tomatillo is in is directly the left of the marker on the map.
Whiskey Weasel in Gangnam just opened up in 2012 and is a welcome addition to the uninspiring selection of bars around Gangnam Station. Their original location is in Ilsan, and both locations are quite popular among expats. The staff is very friendly and laid-back. They have four or five beers on tap, including the standard Cass (₩3000) as well as Alley Kat (₩6000) and San Miguel, plus several bottled options. They even serve up some pretty tasty (and affordable) grub. I've had the burger and the hot wings, which were both very good, although the wings are tiny (just like they are anywhere in Korea).
I've personally never had any problems with the service, but there have been a few times that I was in there and saw another group complaining about not getting their food an hour or more after ordering it. Just make sure they don't forget about you if you order something.
Directions: From exit 10, walk down the main road and turn left at Giordano. Then, turn right onto the road with all the bars on it. Whiskey Weasel is in a building on your left, just past King's Tap. Look for the Whiskey Weasel sign way up towards the top of the building; it's easy to miss.
Some other decent places
Butcher's Cut: Another solid burger restaurant, this one located in the same building as Dos Tacos, just before Kyobo Tower. It's not my favorite burger in Seoul, but it's pretty good.
King's Tap: One of the better bars in the area. Nothing particularly special. A good expat hangout.
Raw: They do American-style sushi rolls. I've only been here once, but it's not too bad if you want a change of pace. They really skimp on the fish on a lot of their rolls, though.
Frypan: I like to complain about Korean stuff, but this is one franchise that they got right. Fried chicken tenders, thick-cut potato chips, and K-beer are all they do, but they do it well (well, except for the K-beer, but that's not really something that can be done well). The sauces are great, too.
Some places to avoid
Pasha: I've seen both good and bad reviews of this well-known Turkish restaurant. I was not very impressed with it myself. The food is all right, but it's not outstanding; prices are high, and portions are small. The free salad bar is terrible and doesn't make it a better deal.
Dos Tacos: This is one of those places that you either love or hate. A lot of people really like it, so by all means, you should try it if you want, but I'm not a fan. They essentially do Korean-ized tacos. Expect your tacos to have weird stuff like cabbage and olives in them. That's all well and good if you're into that, but in my experience, making a Korean version of something usually just makes it worse.