Seoul’s Best-Kept Secrets: Gyeongnidan – Foodie Heaven
Gyeongnidan is a neighborhood, just one station from Itaewon, that is quickly becoming an epicenter of trendy restaurants, cafes, and shops, as well as a number of stylish, cozy bars.
Always on the hunt for her next meal, Amanda’s search for great food and atmosphere have taken her into the nooks and crannies of Seoul. She enjoys a wide variety of cuisine, from Greek to Japanese, though she is nagged by a constant craving for her favorite Korean food: dalk galbi with cheesy rice.
You’ve probably already heard of Itaewon, Seoul’s famous (and somewhat notorious) foreigner district. Among other things, it’s known for its vast selection of quality international cuisine. However, many people don’t realize that another prime foodie destination, Gyeongnidan, is just around the corner.
To reach the following bars and restaurants, take Line 6 to Noksapyeong Station (as shown in the map below). Ascend to the street through Exit 2 and walk straight for 3 minutes until you reach an underpass. Use the underpass to cross the street, where you will be met with a difficult choice to make: where to eat first.
To get to my first set of neighborhood favorites you’ll exit left out of the underpass and walk straight towards the intersection. If you’re looking for a drink without a meal you can just cross the street and turn right. Block after block, you’ll find an eclectic array of small bars to check out.
Seoul Salon and Monster Cupcakes
The most interesting bar I’ve found in Gyeongnidan so far is Seoul Salon, about a block and a half up the street, right after Big Mug Café (with the round sign). It’s easy to miss during the day time with its muted wood entrance, but once you step inside, the sleek narrow bar and all-black interior have a grungy-meets-trendy vibe that will make you feel like you’ve been let in on a secret.
The bar only serves high-end vodka and gin-based drinks, so if you’ve been on the hunt for a quality gin and tonic this is your spot, though they are a bit pricey at about 13,000-14,000 won. Even if a gin and tonic or a martini isn’t your usual drink of choice, you should still go to check out the bar’s rooftop, where you’ll find camping chairs, lanterns, and blankets to cozy up outside with your drink.
This street is also home to the well-known Monster Cupcakes (you’ll see it less than a block before Seoul Salon). Monster Cupcakes keeps Halloween alive all year round with its creepy treats. In all honesty, I’m not a huge fan of their cupcakes because I find them a little dry, but it does makes for a fun visit.
The Baker’s Table and Craftworks Taphouse
To get to my absolute favorite restaurant, The Baker’s Table (it’s mine too! – editor), make a left out of the underpass and keep walking straight past the intersection for about 5-8 minutes until you reach a large overpass. Walking this way you’ll also pass the original location of Craftworks Taphouse, which is famous for its craft beers. As a fan of wheat beer, I really enjoy their Hefeweizen. They make great burgers too.
Located at the foot of a large overpass, about two blocks after Craftworks, the Baker’s Table is an authentic Italian bakery and restaurant with a fantastic brunch and lunch menu. Once you enter, the smell of fresh baked bread will make your mouth water. For curing pre-Monday blues and soju hangovers, I like to order the Italian sausage, egg, and home fries platter. They also sell imported olive oils, spreads, and homemade hummus! The only downside is you’ll probably never find satisfaction at Paris Baguette or Tour Les Jour again.
Trevia and the Southside Parlor
If you make a right out of the underpass in Gyeongnidan and walk straight for about 3 minutes (heading towards Itaewon) you’ll be met with a ton of additional great food options. It’s always hard to pass up the restaurants I see to my left as I cross the street, but I tend to head straight to Trevia, another great Italian restaurant. It’s known for its delicious homemade focaccia bread and homemade pizzas. If you’re planning to eat dinner there on a Friday or Saturday night try to come early, as there is usually a wait.
Now, if you’re looking for an after-dinner drink or any drink for that matter, absolutely do not miss the Southside Parlor! A few stores down from Trevia, it’s easy to miss since it’s up on the fourth floor of the Happy Building. Go up, however, and you will not be disappointed.
Their unique, southern-inspired, signature cocktails are so good they made it into the Wall Street Journal Blog. Like Seoul Salon, the cocktails are a little pricey, but definitely worth it! I hear the food is amazing also: pulled-pork and smoked brisket sliders, with Sriracha mayo and miso mustard should settle any food cravings.
You can see the Southside Parlor sign clearly from across the street. The restaurant Thunder Burger on the first floor is apparently also a local favorite. If you’re in need of some intellectual stimulation after all the food and drinks, the Brick Lane Foreign Bookstore just up the street before the Lexus dealer is a great place to find and sell used books!
As an up and coming area, there are always plenty of new spots to try in Gyeongnidan. For more recommendations you can also check out the Seoulist and Seoul Eats articles on Noksapyeong and the Gyeongnidan neighborhood.
Let us know your favorites in the comments below!