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The Best Expat Restaurants in Korea

Updated on February 27, 2015

Traveling or working in South Korea? Want to know where to eat? Here are the best restaurants for you.

This site lists my favorite expat restaurants in Korea. You won't be disappointed if you follow my advice and choose one of these places to enjoy foreign food in South Korea. From fried chicken better than you'd eat down south, to decent Mexican and fast food, it all can be found in Korea. I know it might be hard to believe in the land of kimchi, but it really is true!

The Best Hamburgers in Korea can be found at Jacoby's in Seoul

One of my friends said that Jacoby's Burgers in Haebongchon (the neighborhood next to Itaewon) had the best hamburger that he'd ever eaten in his entire life. I couldn't believe that it could be found in Korea, but when I went, it was indeed the best burger I'd ever eaten as well. Home-cooked buns, a choice of toppings, amazing meat, and fabulous onion rings. Everything is cooked fresh to order so don't expect fast service. And you'll probably encounter a line on the weekends. Also a good choice of draft beers.


Directions: Go to Noksapyeong Station, Line 3, Exit 2. Walk straight and go left when the road splits (at the kimchi pots). Walk straight up the hill for a couple blocks, and you will see 'Jacoby's Burger' on your right. (about a 10-minute walk from the Station exit)

Best Mexican in South Korea? Dos Tacos

They have a few locations around Seoul, with the most popular one being in Hongdae. If you need some Mexican-style food, then this is the place for you. Their Margaritas are quite good and the Burritos are delicious. They are big and filling, reasonably priced and come in any combination you could imagination. It's a small place, but you'll get your food fast so you never have to wait too long for a table.

Directions to the one in Hongdae: Go out of exit 6. Take a left at the VIPS and look for it on the left after a few minutes.

Isaac Toast: a quick, delicious snack

There are plenty of these small shops in every neighborhood in Korea. While not strictly "Western Style," Koreans have taken the traditional sandwich and put their own delicious twist on it. The basic sandwich comes with grilled bread, some sweet (and addictive) sauce, and a choice of meat. Options are some shredded cabbage and cheese. So warm and yummy and cheap (around 2000 Won). Try it out!

Isaac delicious!

The Wolfhound Pub: the best place for drinks and atmosphere

This Irish style pub in Itaewon is the best place in Korea for a drink and some traditional pub food. They have a wide array of beers and apple cider on tap. Prices are quite reasonable. And the atmosphere can't be beat. They have a big menu including an all-day hearty breakfast, Shepherd's Pie and Toad in the Hole. However, the best thing there is their cheeseburger. Nice meat, a quality bun and homemade potato wedges, complete with lots of flavor. They rival Jacoby's for the best burger in Korea.


From Itaewon subway station walk down the street ACROSS from the Hamilton Hotel and go down the first alley on your right. They are about 20 meters down on the right on the 2nd and 3rd floors. If you are still confused call 02-749-7971.

And now the Wolfhound has a second branch in Busan, at Haeundae Beach. It's right on the main drag and you can't miss it.


Craftworks Taphouse and Bistro: the Best Beer in Korea

While I was at Craftworks, I took advantage of the homebrew on tap and sampled a few (most!) of them. They have a dark ale, pure pilsner, hefeweizen, golden ale, IPA and Kolsh. I am not really a beer connoisseur in terms of kinds of beer, but I enjoyed all the ones that I had. Certainly better than Cass or Hite, and a decent 5000 Won for a Pint.

I also sampled one of their burgers and fries, and would definitely rank it up in the Top 10 burgers in Korea. The meat was quite delicious, with some nice toppings. The fries were a bit odd, but tasty.

Overall, I give Craftworks 2 thumbs up, and recommend it heartily!

Reader's Choice for the Top Restaurant in Korea

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Amazing Breakfast in South Korea can be found at Butterfinger Pancake

Butterfinger Pancake. The most delicious place to eat in all of Korea. Hands down. There is no contest at all in my book. Especially if you're in the mood for breakfast. Amazing waffles, the best pancakes I've ever eaten and a fried chicken platter that is greasy good. Search online for directions, there are restaurants in a few places: Apgujeong, Gangnam, Bundang, Cheongdam.

The one in Gangnam is really easy to get to. Go out exit 6, walk straight for 1 minute until you get to the Body Shop. Turn left and then walk for 2 minutes. It's on your left, just past the Burger King and across the street from a baseball place.


Beer O'Clock Sinchon: just like Canada!

Located in the heart of Sinchon, the neighborhood next to the famous party area Hongdae, this is an excellent place to go before your big night out on the town. They have Canadian style pizza, burgers, nachos and beer. I've been there numerous times and have tried most of their menu items and have never been disappointed. On tap they have Hoegaarden and Alley Kat.


Kraze Burger

Kraze Burger is a chain of restaurants that are all around Korea. They make a very decent hamburger, that is cooked fresh to order with top quality ingredients. Almost anything on the menu is delicious and comes with no strange sauce or weird topping. I also enjoy their chil-cheese fries and salads. Keep your eyes open for one in your town.

Kraze Burger in Seoul

Mount Fishtail Indian Food in Cheonan

In my opinion, the most delicious Indian Food in Korea can be found in my local town of Cheonan. It's a smaller city about an hour south of Seoul. If you make the trip, you won't be disappointed. The best things on the menu are the samosas and curry. My favorites are the Chicken Sagwala (with spinach) and the Chicken Tikka Masala. The Chai Tea, to finish your meal is also fabulous.

How to get there:

Get yourself to Cheonan Station (by subway or regular train). Go out exit 1. Go to the taxi stand and go under that main street so you're just opposite the taxis. Walk straight up the hill about 10 seconds. Look up, it's on the second floor. It's called Mount Fishtail.


TGI Fridays

This is another one of the big chain family-style restaurants in Korea, with various locations around the country. There are quite similar to Outback, serving a wide range of Western favorites such as burgers, pasta, steaks, and salads. It's expensive, but the food is generally delicious. They have excellent appetizers and desserts as well.

Sortino Italian Restaurant

I found Sortino, an Italian restaurant in Itaewon after cruising the net trying to figure out somewhere new and delicious to eat. It was amazing! I had spaghetti and meatballs, boring but recommended by the netizens. My friend had a shellfish soup and then salmon pasta in an oil kind of sauce. And amazing bread, with oil and vinegar to go along with our meal. The pizza looked amazing and I'd get that next time. I have a feeling anything on the menu would make your mouth happy. The wine list is impressive and the atmosphere was perfect for an Italian restaurant. The service was flawless.

Directions: Go out of Itaewon Station, Exit 3. Walk straight and you'll see it on your right-hand side on the second floor.


Buddha's Belly: the best Thai food in Korea

This is a restaurant with a beautiful, roomy interior. It's located in the heart of Itaewon, on the second floor, on the street behind the Hamilton Hotel. Plan to spend at least a couple hours to enjoy the ambiance. The food is reasonably priced from 10 000-15 000 Won/item. They are able to modify almost any dish on the menu to suit vegans. I highly recommend the curries, but almost anything is delicious.

Don't Forget Korean BBQ - It's on every street corner and it's oh so delicious!

Taco Bell in South Korea

Believe it or not, North-American favorite Taco Bell is just about the best "Mexican food" that you can find in Korea. Most of the Mexican restaurants in Korea are over-priced, not so authentic and not that delicious. While Taco Bell is not authentic Mexican fare either, the price is certainly right and it does taste good.

You can find it in Itaewon, right near the subway station, across the street from the Hamilton Hotel. There are new restaurants opening up too, so check their website for the up to date information.

The top chicken place in Korea: The Fry Pan

Koreans know how to do fried chicken and The Fry Pan is the best of the bunch. There are chains all over the place and you should check for locations near you.

The menu is simple: chicken, either boneless breast of leg style. It comes with homemade chips and optional salad that is quite addictive. Cheap draft beer completes the meal. It truly is the best fried chicken I've ever eaten and my friend from the Southern USA said the same!


The Loving Hut Vegetarian Restaurant: Veggie food in South Korea

Loving Hut is a chain of Vegan Restaurants that can be found all around Korea. They serve a variety of Korean foods, but strictly Vegan style. They also have a range of organic, vegan faux meats and other foods for sale in their stores. Being a strict Vegan can be quite difficult in Korea due to seafood products being added to almost everything, including most kimchi and otherwise vegetarian food. This place will be a refuge!


O'Taco: Delicious Mexican in Seoul

In my never-ending search for decent Mexican food in Korea, I checked out another place this last weekend in Seoul. It's called O' Taco and located in the neighborhood next to Itaewon at Hannam O-Geori (Hannam 5-way intersection).

I ordered a steak Burrito for 8000 Won and it was very enjoyable, perhaps even better than Dos Taco over in Hongdae. Everything was fresh and made to order, and there were no crazy ingredients that shouldn't belong. There was some nice hot sauce on the table for an extra kick. My friend had a couple different tacos and enjoyed them as well. They were quite large for 4000 Won.

Check it out! It's well worth a visit if you're in the neighborhood.


Outback Steakhouse

This American chain restaurant is very popular in Korea. Every medium size town and all the big ones have at least one in the downtown area. Service is excellent and the food is predictably good. The only thing that I've heard complaints about is the steak. For what you pay, it's not as well-cooked as it should be, but everything else on the menu is delicious.


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