A Seoul food tour means you’ll get to experience an amazing mix of old and new in this modern city that also takes the time to honor the past with its cuisine. In Seoul, not only can you experience some of the best food in South Korea, but you can also visit some of the best restaurants in the world. So, get ready for a culinary adventure as you make your way through many of the best foods and restaurants in Seoul with this guide!
Seoul Food: The Best Korean Restaurants in Seoul
While you’ve probably heard of Korean barbeque, it’s unfortunate that many people don’t have much knowledge of how to eat it. But you’ve decided to take a trip to Seoul, which is lucky for you! Buckle in and get ready to experience some amazing food, people, and places in this great city. Between street foods, traditional restaurants, western dining options, and fine dining as well, dining Korean style may just be one of the highlights of your trip to Seoul. If you’re new to Seoul or maybe aren’t very adventurous with your food choices, this is a great opportunity to get out of your comfort zone and enjoy some of the best Seoul food!
Seoul Food – The Best Korean Food Districts in Seoul
South Korea has a rich culinary history and amazing food to offer, so while some may be tempted to stick to western-style restaurants while in Seoul, resist the urge to go with what is familiar and discover some truly magnificent dishes while in Seoul. The following districts will set you up with information on their style and the kind of food they feature, so you can decide which area would work best for you. While these are only a few of the neighborhoods that Seoul has to offer, it is also recommended that you explore a little and find your own secret, foodie spots. Seoul is a big city with great food and lots of opportunities to eat!
Experience the Best Seoul Food in Insa-dong
Culture and history are the main attraction in Insa-dong, which means great food choices for you as this area is popular with both locals and tourists. The main pedestrian street is lined with Korean restaurants and tea houses, meaning you can experience the best in traditional Korean food all in this area.
But if you are looking for street food in South Korea, then you have to make your way to Insa-dong as the variety and quantity of street food available to eat in this area is staggering. If you’re looking for a nice café to relax in, Insa-dong also has you covered as there are plenty of cute places to choose from. Get on the subway and head over to Insa-dong and be sure to go hungry!
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Food Stands Galore in Myeong-dong
Shopping, casual food, and street food abound in Myeong-dong. If you want to experience a district with lots of food, and lots of fun, then the Myeong-dong may be the right area for your stay in Seoul.
While small restaurants offer favorites like Korean dumplings, street vendors offer a variety of snacks to choose from (often Japanese and Thai style foods), allowing you to munch on some delicious foods as you make your way through the bustling area. Step out to get some shopping done in Myeong-dong before heading to the street vendors. With foods ranging from kimbap (Korean rice balls), twigim (Korean fried food), mandu (Korean dumplings), and more all available to choose from, the only hard part will be deciding which food to eat next. Head out in Myeong-dong, get exploring, and get eating while you’re in-Korea!
Check In to Moons Hostel, Step Out to Myeong-dong
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Seoul Food, Fashion & Fun Meet in Gangnam
You may have heard of Gangnam because of PSY’s viral hit, “Gangnam Style,” but this world-famous district has been popular for a while with travelers. Known for being an upscale area with modern high rises, designer fashion shops, and trendy entertainment options, this is a neighborhood where the rich come to play. But you don’t have to be a millionaire to have fun in Gangnam (though, it definitely helps). Gangnam has an amazing assortment of food available in the area, everthing from haute cuisine to fried chicken, Korean BBQ, and lots more, so you don’t have to spend a ton in the area unless you want to.
Check In to the Shilla Stay Yeoksam, Step Out to the Gangnam Finance Center
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Seoul Food – Best Places to Eat Korean BBQ in Seoul
Korean BBQ, known as gogigui or gogi-gui, is a popular type of dining experience where people gather around and grill meats together (chicken, pork, beef). Whether you’re visiting a Korean restaurant that features Korean BBQ, or you’re lucky enough to be invited into a Korean’s home, gogigui is a Korean favorite, and sure to please almost anyone. Sometimes, the meat is marinated, and sometimes it is not.
You can choose meats depending on whether you enjoy the cut and marinade, or opt for meat that hasn’t been marinated. Generally, the marinade consists of soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, garlic, and pepper (it’s very tasty), but it can also be enjoyable to just experience the taste of the meat (whichever cut you choose), or choose a different marinated meat (either the popular galbi or beef bulgogi). Korean BBQ is normally served with a variety of side plates, called banchan, that range from kimchi to soup, rice, and other dishes. So, eat-and enjoy!
Palsaik Samgyeopsal features grilled pork belly, which is absolutely delicious and should be tried if you are in Seoul and enjoy pork. This restaurant is considered to be tourist-friendly, so you don’t have to worry too much if you’re not sure of what to order or what to do. The meat is set on a platter with the 8 varieties presented to you (ginseng, wine, pine leaves, garlic, herb, curry, miso paste, and hot), and you can take each individual slice and put it on your grill to cook it right before your eyes. If you’d like more than just pork, there are other items that can be grilled as well, so don’t worry. If this is your first time enjoying Korean BBQ, then sit back and let the server guide you through the grilling process so that your meat is cooked the way it is meant to be. If you’re interested in trying Korean BBQ while you’re in Seoul, then Palsaik Samgyeopsal should be on your list!
Address: 18 Baekbeom-ro, Daeheung-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Transportation nearby Palsaik Samgyeopsal
Check In to Shinchon Ever8 Serviced Residence, Step Out to Seogang University
With amazing cuts of meat and an exceptional ambiance, Samgeori Pujukan is a great choice for Korean BBQ in Seoul. This restaurant is a joint collaboration with the famous performer and producer, YG, and the Korean screenwriter, Noh Hee Young. With high-concept art decorating the restaurant, an open kitchen, and an upbeat vibe, this restaurant is a great choice if you’re looking for Korean BBQ with a more contemporary feel. Choose from delicious cuts of meat to grill, or grab one of their stews if you need something to warm you up. While the grilling menu primarily features pork, there are beef options as well and the restaurant offers three dipping sauces for you to enjoy with your meal. If you’re looking for a delicious restaurant where there’s a chance you might bump into some Korean celebrities, then check out Samgeori Pujukan the next time you’re in Seoul.
Address: 361-10 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Transportation nearby Samgeori Pujukan:
Check In to the L7 Hongdae by LOTTE, Step Out to the Dongbang Sauna.
Cozy and delicious, Piggy Bank should be on your go-to list if you’re in Seoul. This restaurant cooks its Korean BBQ on hot stones that are placed in your table, which makes for a fun time if you’ve never experienced it before. Located near the Hongik University, Piggy Bank is a great fit for people who are looking for a delicious, locally popular dining experience while they’re visiting Seoul.
Though it may be a little out of the way, Piggy Bank is situated right next to a subway station, so it’s not too much of an inconvenience to make the trip, plus this area is always interesting and full of students and tourists who are looking to have a great time. The banchan keeps coming as long as you keep eating, and the restaurant has been known to give a dish or two out for free, depending on the size of your order. With friendly service, great portions, and a fun ambiance be sure to check out Piggy Bank when you’re visiting Seoul!
Address: 146-1 Eoulmadang-ro, Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Transportation nearby Piggy Bank
Check In to the Amanti Hotel Seoul, Step Out to Hongik University Street
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Seoul Food & Restaurants: Where to Eat Sweets in Seoul
While some people may not be aware of the delicious treats available in Seoul, there are plenty of restaurants in the city that feature desserts and other sweet foods to snack on. Maybe you’ve heard of bingsu, which is a shaved ice treat that originally was served with red bean paste? Recently bingsu has gained popularity in western countries as a dessert food – best bring a friend to help you finish this one as the portions are large! In addition, Seoul has its own unique twist on certain classic dishes, including French pastries, ice creams, in addition to fun, quirky dishes like Banana Tree’s flower pot dessert! If you’re into sweets, make sure to save room for dessert in Seoul, you won’t be disappointed!
If you are looking for more traditional bingsu to try while you’re in Seoul, then make a stop at Dongbing-Go. Offering bingsu with the traditional red bean paste on top, this dessert restaurant is great for a stop if you’re trying to beat the heat, or if you’re just want to eat some traditional bingsu. This restaurant is frequented by locals, so it might be a good idea to have a translation app along with you for the ride, as the staff might not speak English, though they do have signage with pictures on it, so you can always indicate your preference by pointing at one of the pictures. Dongbing-Go also serves a variety of other desserts, including pies and tarts, so there’s plenty of great foods to choose from at this restaurant!
Address: Yongsan-gu, Ichon-dong, 301-162, Seoul, South Korea
Transportation nearby Dongbing-Go
Check In to Imperial Palace Boutique Hotel, Step Out to Itaewon
A beautiful atmosphere, great staff, and delicious desserts combine for a one of a kind experience at Café Coin. Located in the popular Myeongdong area, this restaurant is just a short walk away from the subway station. Offering everything from tasty frozen dishes to elaborate and sweet waffles, to coffee drinks, and more, Café Coin is worth a stop if you are a dessert lover who’s looking for a cozy café to enjoy. When you’re in Seoul, be sure to come and sample a dessert at Café Coin and, remember, this is a food best shared with friends!
Address: 54-20 Myeongdong 2(i)-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul soul, South Korea Transportation nearby Café Coin:
Transportation nearby Café Coin
Check In to Hotel 28 Myeongdong, Step Out to Myeongdong Art Center
Quirky desserts are all the rage at Banana Tree! With lovingly hand-crafted “flower pot” desserts, you’re in for a real treat when you stop by Banana Tree. Unbelievably Instagramable, this restaurant serves pudding in flower pots that’s been decorated to look like you’re eating out of a flower pot, but don’t eat the decorative flowers! Served with mini “shovels,” guests can enjoy eating from their flower pot while sipping on a cotton candy topped latte or other various desserts.
Address: 10 Apgujeong-ro 4-gil, Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul Korea
Transportation nearby Banana Tree
Check In to La Casa Hotel Seoul, Step Out to Garosu Street
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Seoul Food: Best Dining Options For Every Budget
Street eats, haute dining, traditional, and everything in between, restaurants in Seoul have some of the best of what South Korea has to offer, but they also have a great assortment of foods that range in price. Whether you’re visiting Seoul on a shoestring budget, or you’re ready to go out for a night on the town that you’ll never forget, you’re going to love Seoul’s food. Best of the best is where we’re at, and this list outlines some of the top options for cheap eating, mid-priced, and fine dining. Take a look through these restaurants and choose a place that fits your budget – or try all three for an experience like no other in Seoul!
Budget Dining in Seoul – Isaac Toast & Coffee
Isaac Toast is a multinational chain that started in South Korea and is known for their delicious toast options. Isaac Toast is a popular location for breakfast, but it’s also an inexpensive way to get some delicious food in Seoul. Popular with tourists and locals, expect a line at this restaurant, but the wait is worth it! Choose from 7 varieties of toast, including hot chicken, bulgalbi, ham special, and more (some locations offer their own toast varieties as well). These toast sandwiches are very affordable and can be a great way to start your day in Seoul, or a great snack when you’re out on the town. If cheap and delicious is what you’re looking for, stop at Isaac Toast during your visit to Seoul!
Address: 105 Toegye-ro, Chungmuro 1(il)-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Transportation nearby Isaac Toast & Coffee
Mid-Priced Eaterie in Seoul – Maple Tree House
At Maple Tree House, stylish and quality are the name of the game. Serving only high-end cuts of meat at this restaurant, enjoy a Korean BBQ experience that is second to none. Choose from delicious cuts of pork, beef, or select offerings from Maple Tree House’s special menu, including vegetable platters and jumbo prawns. Sample their exceptional bibimbap while you grill, order one of their stew offerings, or enjoy their cold noodle soups. With daily lunch specials, reasonable prices, and great service, Maple Tree House is worth a stop or two when you’re in Seoul. And fortunately, Maple Tree House is a chain, which means it’s available at locations all over the city. Choose your favorite area and then get grilling at Maple Tree House.
Address: 26 Itaewon-ro 27ga-gil, Itaewon 1(il)-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Transportation nearby Maple Tree House
Fine Dining in Seoul – La Yeon
Located at the top of the Hotel Shilla, La Yeon was listed as one of the top 50 restaurants in Asia for 2019, and boasts an experience like no other when you dine with them. If you’re looking to enjoy some exquisite, eat-in-Korea-Korean food, then La Yeon should be at the top of your list. With traditional Korean food recipes that have been filtered through a modern lens, sit and enjoy as Chef Sung-Il Kim takes you on a culinary journey through haute Korean cuisine. Enjoy the view of the beautiful Namsan Park as you dine on galbi jjim (Korean braised beef short ribs), hotpot, and more. With its mix of traditional and modern, La Yeon is sure to wow you, so stop by for this fine dining experience when you’re visiting Seoul.
Address: 249 Dongho-ro, Jangchung-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Transportation nearby La Yeon
Check In to Hotel Doma Myeongdong, Step Out to Namsangol Hanok Villiage
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Handy Budgeting Tips for Eating Out in Seoul
Seoul is a great city to visit with an exceptional food culture. Whether you’ve experienced some of the quirkier products out of Seoul on websites like “Foodbeast” or you enjoy watching Korean cooking and eating shows online, there’s nothing quite like the first-hand experience of eating food in Seoul.
But eating out can get expensive, even in a city like Seoul where there are many affordable options to choose from. Here are some tips that you can use during your visit to Seoul to save yourself some money and still enjoy good Seoul food.
- Don’t forget to do some shopping at convenience stores! Convenience stores in South Korea aren’t the same as they are in western countries. At a convenience store in Seoul, you can grab good food that’s fresh and tasty. If you’re looking to save some cash, then shopping at conveniences stores in Seoul is a great way to go!
- Eat lots of street food while you’re in Seoul. A great way to eat some local, Korean foods is to eat at the many street food vendors that are around the city. Ranging from snacks on sticks, like sausage and chicken skewers to dumplings, to egg bread, and French-fry corn dogs, there are so many different, delicious street foods to choose from.
- In Korea stick with Korean food. While you can eat at western-style restaurants in Seoul, they’re likely to be more expensive than local, Korean restaurants. While in Seoul, try to limit yourself to Korean food. Why travel all the way to Seoul to only eat foods that you can already get at home? Eat Seoul food and enjoy some of the best Korean food in the country while you visit!
- Ask your hotel for a recommendation! One of the best ways to explore Seoul is to eat at locations that are frequented by locals. These are the restaurants that locals love the most but aren’t typically frequented by tourists. Ask your hotel’s guest services or concierge for their recommendations on great places to eat in Seoul before you head out.
Check In to Riviera Hotel, Step Out to Cheongdam Fashion Street
Tips regarding dining out in Seoul
- Make sure you know how to eat rice in South Korea. It’s considered impolite to lift the rice bowl to your mouth in South Korea, so be sure to leave it on the table while you’re eating and bend over the bowl if you need to. Additionally, it’s not expected that you will eat every grain of rice (though you can if you’d like to). Sauces can also be mixed with rice in South Korea, unlike some other places in Asia where the practice is considered rude.
- You don’t need to tip in Seoul. The price listed in the menu is the price you pay (so there aren’t any hidden fees or taxes). In some places, leaving a tip can even be taken as a rude gesture, so be certain to follow local customs in this regard. If you are in a western-style restaurant that primarily caters to tourists, then leaving a tip should not give offense. But if you are in a more traditional restaurant, a tip will likely be refused.
- If you are eating at some restaurants, you may have to sit at a communal table. If you are seated at a communal table, you don’t have to make conversation with the people next to you. Act as you would if you were sitting at a private table and enjoy your meal.
- Picky eaters, resist the urge to pick through your food. While you are in Seoul, it’s most polite to eat everything that’s given to you. If you have allergies or aren’t interested in eating everything that’s served to you, it’s best to research the restaurant you are going to beforehand, otherwise, you may give offense with your pickiness. Try to remember that you’re in Seoul to experience the food and culture, so eat up!
- Never pour your own drink! In South Korea, it is considered rude to refill your own drink, so keep your eyes open for when your neighbor’s drink needs refilling and refill it! They will likely do the same for you. If you wish to have your glass refilled (and your neighbor doesn’t notice), pour a little bit into their glass (or fill it, if needed), so they get the hint.
- Make sure you know how to use chopsticks properly! Most places in South Korea will give you chopsticks to use with your meal. Be sure to practice how to use chopsticks prior to your departure, if you’re not used to using chopsticks with your meals. Never stick chopsticks either vertically or horizontally over the top of the rice bowl (this is considered incredibly rude), and also don’t use the rice bowl for bits of food that you don’t want to eat (also considered rude).
- Don’t worry too much, however. Most people will make allowances for tourists who aren’t used to eating in South Korea. Just do your best to be polite and follow the lead of your host (eat at the pace that they do, and follow their eating habits), and you should be fine.
Consider a Seoul Food Tour with a Local Foodie Pro
Whether you’re only eating street food, or you’re looking to experience the best Seoul food at restaurants or fine dining establishments, these tips can help you navigate through eating while you’re visiting Seoul. And, remember, if you’re looking to eat a whole bunch of different foods in one go, taking a food tour in Seoul is always an option as well! With so much to eat in the city, sometimes it’s best to let a professional take you around to all the best spots to make sure that you don’t miss anything. Additionally, you can always opt for a tour after you’ve had a chance to explore the city a little as, this way, a tour will cover anything you’ve missed, or help highlight smaller establishments that you may have never noticed. Whichever way you decide to enjoy the food in Seoul, you’re in for a real treat with this exceptional city!
How to Get Around in Seoul, South Korea
Fortunately for visitors, Seoul has plenty of great transportation options that are available to choose from. While taxis are available in Seoul, the city also has amazing public transportation options, including the Seoul Subway, bus, and train systems. If you aren’t familiar with using public transit, it might be a good idea to familiarize yourself with the transportation options in Seoul. Seoul has a reputation for having one of the world’s best public transit systems as it is clean, efficient, inexpensive, and can take you almost anywhere in the city. However, the subway is extensive and, with crossing routes and terminal switches, you may find yourself getting a little confused if this is your first time navigating through a massive subway system. But don’t sweat it! Here are some tips that can help you navigate through the Seoul Subway system with ease.
- Signage is in both Korean and English. While it’s a good idea to learn some basic Korean for your trip, if you’re not familiar with their alphabet, you don’t have to worry too much because the subway stations are marked with color-coded signs that are written in both English and Korean.
- Basic fares are inexpensive on the subway. Basic fare for a trip on the subway costs between 1,250 won and 2,000 won (about @1.10 to $1.80 USD). Make sure to hold onto your validated ticket for your entire ride as you will need that ticket to exit the station (to allow access through the turnstile at the stations).
- Purchase a T-money card to save time. For public transit in Seoul, it is most convenient to purchase a T-money card, which is a reusable card that you can load with money and use to pay for your transit rides. Cards are available at vending machines inside of the subway stations and can also be loaded in the same stations. If you plan on taking public transit during your stay in Seoul, this is a great way to pay for your fares without having to worry about keeping change on you.
- Get a refund when you leave the city! If you have 20,000 KRW (about $18 USD) on your T-money card, you can get a refund at any loading terminal – so don’t forget to grab that extra cash before you leave. Alternatively, the T-money cards are good for 5 years, so if you’re going to be back in Seoul, you can always keep your card for next time.
- Download Seoul’s Subway App. Because Seoul has one of the largest subway systems in the world, it’s a good idea to download their subway app ahead of time and then plan your route out. Knowing which station you need to get off and on at, and whether you need to switch trains along the way, will help keep you from getting lost as you travel. Get familiar with the app and your route ahead of time to make you’re your journey on the subway goes smoothly.
- Watch out for rush hour on public transit! If you have a hard time with extreme crowding or being jostled a little bit by others, try to avoid taking the subway during rush hour (generally after 4 pm until about 8 pm).
The bus system in Seoul is also a great way to get around the city. Sometimes, you may find that it’s more convenient to take the bus than the subway as you will have to navigate through fewer stops on the bus than if you’d taken the subway. Plan out your route and see which option would be best for where you want to go. The bus system in Seoul is also color-coded, making it easy to tell which buses go where (yellow, green, blue, and red). The fare for buses in Seoul ranges from about 1,050 won ($0.95 USD) and up, as the cost rises depending on the length of your journey.
- Yellow buses are designated for the Central Business District (the downtown Seoul area, which allows access to many tourist attractions).
- Green buses connect to residential areas outside of Seoul and also take bus riders to transit transfer points.
- Blue buses are used to connect Seoul’s suburbs to the downtown area.
- Red buses are used for commuters.
If you are interested in exploring the rest of South Korea, then you’ll be glad to know that there’s an excellent railway system in place that allows you to travel all over the country with ease. Korail is the largest train operator running in the country and offers a “KR Pass” for foreign visitors (which means you get discounted rates on their trains). Whether you’re using a regional train service, or want to give the high-speed railways a go, you can get almost anywhere by train in South Korea.
Additionally, if you want to get to and from your destination without having to do any navigating yourself, you can also opt to take a taxi. Rates are quite affordable, especially when compared to other major cities, so taking a taxi won’t be too hard on your pocketbook. If you are ever unsure about which transportation method would be best, you can always ask your hotel’s concierge or guest services, as locals should be able to give advice on how to get to and from the attractions in Seoul.