The best local restaurants in Seoul have stood the test of time, consistently delivering homemade and inexpensive Korean dishes for decades. Utilising traditional recipes and cooking methods, these often family-owned restaurants are places to savour must-try local delicacies such as kimchi, samgyetang (chicken ginseng soup), blood stew, and galbi-jjim (braised beef ribs), to name a few.
Located mostly within Gangnam and Myeongdong, visitors can get around Seoul’s popular central districts with ease thanks to its efficient subway systems and bus services. Best of all, diners can enjoy a hearty and nutritious meal plus a drink at these restaurants for about 10,000 won (less than USD10). Our list of Seoul’s top restaurants for local dishes comprises of iconic landmarks that have won rave reviews from Seoulites, seasoned expats, and food critics from all over the world.
Tosokchon is known for its signature samgyetang (chicken ginseng soup), a popular Korean dish best eaten during the summertime. Set within a ten-minute stroll from Gyeongbokgung Station, it was a favourite spot of South Korea’s late president, Noh Muh-hyun, making it as an iconic landmark in Seoul. Tosokchon’s samgyetang is slow-cooked for hours for a sweet and nutty flavour, consisting of a spring chicken (that’s no more than 49 days old) stuffed with chestnuts, garlic, dried jujubes, ginseng, glutinous rice, and gingko nuts. Aside from its signature dish, Tosokchon also offers tongdak (roasted chicken), haemul pajeon (green onion pancake with seafood), and agu-jjim (braised spicy monkfish).
- Opening Hours: Daily 10:00 – 22:00
- Address: 85-1 Chaebu-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul
- Tel: +822 737 7444
Just a two-minute stroll from City Hall subway station (Exit 10) is Goryeo Samgyetang, a popular local restaurant in Seoul has been serving quality samgyetang (chicken ginseng soup) since 1960. The eatery only uses ginseng that’s grown in Geumsan and seven week-old chickens raised in local farms which are then boiled with a mix of dates, garlic, glutinous rice, and various Korean medicinal herbs to make a flavourful and energising soup. Diners can also enjoy an array of substantial and traditional Korean dishes such as goryeo tongdak (roasted chicken) and jeonbok-juk (abalone rice porridge).
- Opening Hours: Daily 10:00 – 22:00
- Address: 55-3 Seosomun-dong Jongno-gu, Seoul
- Tel: +822 737 1888
Hadongkwan Myeongdong is a popular lunch time spot for savoury gomtang (beef bone soup with rice) and suyuk (boiled beef slices) in Seoul. First opened in the early 1930s, Hadongkwan relocated from a quiet back alley near Cheonggye Stream to the popular Myeongdong district. For only 10,000 won, diners can enjoy Korean beef slices and excellent kimchi, as well as free refills of soup and kimchi brine. Due to its popularity, Hadongkwan Myeongdong close once it’s out of ingredients, so do stop by early get your fill of this savoury and nutritious dish.
- Opening Hours: Monday - Saturday 07:00 – 16:30
- Address: 12, Myeongdong 9-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul
- Tel: +822 776 5656
Set along a quiet alleyway in Jugyo-dong, Seoulites have been flocking to Wooraeok for its flavourful Pyeongyang-style naengmyeon (noodles in cold broth) since 1946. The traditional Korean dish consists of thin handmade noodles made from buckwheat, potatoes, or sweet potatoes served in a cold tangy broth, julienned cucumbers, Korean pear slices, boiled egg, and slices of cold boiled beef. Aside from its signature dish, Wooraeok also serves an array of delicacies such as yukgaejang (hot spicy meat stew), bulgogi, and galbi (grilled short ribs). To get to Wooraeok, take the subway to Euljiro 4-ga Station (Subway Line 2 or 5), Exit 4.
- Opening Hours: Daily 11:30 – 22:00
- Address: 118-1 Jugyo-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul
- Tel: +822 2265 0151 2
Cheongjinok is well-frequented by hungover locals for its signature haejangguk; a hearty beef broth made by stewing the ox blood with generous chunks of radish, dried Napa cabbage, beef innards, bean sprouts, and doenjang (soybean paste). Also known as a hangover stew, this rich and flavourful dish is priced at only 7,000 won and served with a side of rice and kimchi. Cheongjinok also serves suyuk (boiled beef slices), various jeon (Korean pancake dishes), donggeurang-ttaeng (pan-fried beef and vegetable patties,) as well as a selection of Korean alcoholic beverages such as soju, beer, rice wine, baekseju (glutinous rice-based wine), and bokbunjaju (black raspberry wine).
- Opening Hours: Daily
- Address: 19, Jong-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
- Tel: +822 375 1690
Andongjang has been around since 1948, serving affordable Korean-Chinese delicacies such as juljjamppong (spicy noodle soup) and jajangmyeon (handmade wheat noodles topped with raw cucumber slices, black soybean paste, diced pork, and vegetables). Priced at 8,000 won for a bowl of juljjamppong, diners can enjoy delicate hand-pulled noodles, generous amounts of vegetables, mushrooms, oysters, and pork simmered in a rich spicy broth. Accessible within a five-minute walk from Euljiro 3ga Station (Subway Line 2, Exit 10), Andongjang is also a great place to enjoy tangsuyuk (18,000 won), which consists crispy fried pork strips in a sweet, apple, and vinegar-based sauce.
- Opening Hours: Daily 11:00 – 22:00
- Location: 42648249
- Address: 315-18 Euljiro-3-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul
- Tel: +822 2266 3814
If you’re looking for delicious galbi-jjim (braised beef ribs) in Seoul, then make your way to Gangnam, where Masizzim is located. Unlike many Korean restaurants in the city, this restaurant has a stylish dining ambience with sleek wooden furnishing, warm lighting, and minimal decor – great for those who want to enjoy traditional Korean food in a modern setting. Other signature dishes include the beef short ribs stew and pork short ribs stew with vegetables, both of which are priced below 10,000 won during lunch hours. Masizzim also serves an array of side dishes to complement its braised beef ribs, such as spicy noodles, rice soup, potato pancake, fried rice, and steamed eggs.
- Opening Hours: Daily 11:00 - 13:30 & 17:00 - 23:00
- Address: 29, Bongeunsa-ro 2-1gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
- Tel: +822 743 4508
Goraebul is an authentic Korean restaurant in Seoul’s popular Gangnam district that specialises in raw seafood. Sourcing only the freshest ingredients from a tranquil coastal area (of the same name) in Gyeongsang Province, this eatery, Goraebul serves raw dishes including whale, abalone, red snapper, flounder, oyster, sea urchin, octopus, flatfish, and gwamegi (half-dried Pacific herring). The ambience here is very quiet and cosy, with several private rooms specially catering to couples. While the food and service here are excellent, do note that the menu here is in Korean and staff aren’t very fluent in other languages. Nevertheless, this is just about as authentic as you can get in Seoul.
- Opening Hours: Daily 11:30 – 22:30
- Address: 828-53 Yeoksam-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
- Tel: +822 556 3677
Norang Jeogori is a prominent family-owned restaurant in Gangnam, serving an extensive array of folk-style side dishes in a traditional setting. At Norang Jeogori, diners can enjoy the diverse cooking styles of Seoul’s traditional delicacies at one sitting. For about 20,000 won, diners can enjoy a delicious traditional Korean set menu, which comprises of iced ginger tea, banchan (pickled vegetables), Korean pancake, porridge, stir-fried glass noodles, raw fish, salad with pineapple dressing, suyuk (boiled beef slices), stew, bulgogi), rice, doenjang jigae (soybean stew), mackerel stew, and fruits for dessert.
- Opening Hours: Daily 10:00 – 20:00
- Address: 1316-29 Seocho-dong, Seocho-gu, Seoul
- Tel: +822 534 5300
Located in Insadong, Busan Sikdang is well-frequented by locals for its inexpensive and nutritious baekban, which is a set menu of freshly-cooked rice, soup or stew, and side dishes). Standout dishes include the cold steamed cabbage with fermented soybeans (Korean miso), cucumbers mixed with hot pepper flakes, soy sauce crabs, mung bean sprouts, and kimchi made with ponytail radish. Do note that the rice is only cooked upon ordering, so be prepared to wait for about 20 minutes for your meal. Busan Sikdang is also famed for its spicy pollock maeuntang (peppery fish soup) or Pacific cod maeuntang. Due to its strong flavour, it is claimed that this delicacy makes for an excellent cure for a hangover as well as a companion for Korean soju.
- Opening Hours: Monday – Saturday 11:30 – 20:00
- Address: 12, Insadong 11-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
- Tel: +822 733 5761