The Best Restaurants and Bars in Gangneung

The PyeongChang 2018 Olympics are officially upon us!

While the Games are no doubt going to be action packed, offering plenty of excitement for both locals and the 150,000 athletes, reporters and die-hard sports fans that are expected to travel to Korea for the event, there’s also plenty to do and see outside of the main venues.

Most of the action will be going down in Gangneung, a small city on the east coast of South Korea. While beautiful, the destination is a bit off the tourist trail, at least for international guests, so English information about the city is lacking, to say the least.

Fortunately enough, a number of in-the-know expats in the Peeps in Gangneung Facebook group have helped me put together a list of all the best restaurants, cafes and bars in the area so you will know exactly where to eat, drink and party during your visit. Without further ado, here’s the list. (Scroll to the bottom of the page for a map of the restaurants and bars in relation to the Olympic venues.)

La Cocina by Lee Seong Young (라꼬시나 by 이성용

Transport yourself to the Mediterranean at La Cocina, an adorable eatery that serves up fantastic Spanish cuisine. What makes La Cocina a favorite among locals is its tapas menu, which is made up of Spanish classics such as Spanish octopus, Spanish tortilla, Spanish croquettes and the mouthwatering Jamon iberico, as well as prawns, mushroom salad and stewed mussels.

Wash down your tapas with your choice of Spanish beer, wine, sangria or cava… or maybe a few glasses of each! If the weather permits, enjoy your meal outside under the beautiful canopy that really comes to life in the evenings when it is illuminated by lanterns that hang from above.

Type of Food: Spanish
Address: 228-13 Nanseolheon-ro, Chodang-dong, Gangneung-si, Gangwon-do, South Korea
Phone: +82-33-652-1006
Hours: Daily 11:45am-3pm; 6-10pm
Website: Click Here

Marunouchi Ramen (마루노우치 라멘)

With only a few tables, Marunouchi Ramen can only accommodate a few couples or small groups. But what it lacks in size, it makes up for in delicious Japanese goodness.

Unlike many establishments that serve up instant noodles, Marunouchi prepares fresh noodles with incredible flavor and just the right consistency. Ramen lovers can select from five varieties: tonkotsu, miso, shio, shoyu and tan tan miso (around 7,000 won each). If you’re feeling particularly famished, order a side of tori kara age, or Japanese fried chicken, which is tender and juicy and pairs perfectly with an ice-cold beer.

Type of Food: Japanese
Address: 1825-3, Gyo 1(il)-dong, Gangneung-si, Gangwon-do, South Korea
Phone: +82-33-645-0527
Hours: Monday to Saturday 11am-2pm, 5-9:30pm; Closed Sundays

Golondrina Cervezas y Cia (골론드리나)

Peruvian restaurateur Giovani Rotondo brings a taste of Latin America to Gangneung at Golondrina Cervezas y Cia.

Currently serving tacos, nachos, guacamole and a selection of local craft beers, Rotondo will also soon be offering a selection of tapas and Peruvian cuisine. The restaurant occasionally hosts parties such as DJ nights, so keep an eye on their Facebook page for updates.

Type of Food: Mexican, South American, Craft Beer
Address: Haseulla-ro 206beon-gil, Gyo-dong, Gangneung, Gangwon-do, South Korea
Phone: +82-33-641-9138
Hours: Tuesday – Thursday 6-11pm; Friday – Saturday 6-12pm; Sunday 6-11pm; Mondays – Closed
Website: Click Here

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Budnamu Brewery (버드나무 브루어리) 

Located within walking distance from the Gangneung Intercity Bus Terminal, Budnamu Brewery seeks to infuse traditional styles of beer with local Korean ingredients, as exemplified by its pine extract saison and Changpo (aka Sweet Flag) Rauchbeir.

Its industrial interior and young, trendy vibe make it easy to spend an entire night here, sampling local brews and chowing down on pub grub such as fish and chips, pizza, and wings. Expect to pay around 7-8,000 won per beer and 20,000 won for an entrée.

Type of Food: Local Craft Beer, Pub Grub
Address: 1961, Hongje-dong, 93-8 Hongje-dong, Gangneung-si, Gangwon-do, South Korea
Phone: +82 33-920-9380
Hours: Daily, 12pm-12am
Website: Click Here

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Jeopalgye Kotgumeong (저팔계콧구멍) 

Touted to be one of the best Korean-style BBQ joints in Gangneung, Jeopalgye Kotgumeong is THE place to go to gorge on melt-in-your-mouth pork belly. Do as the locals do and place a piece of grilled meat into a lettuce leaf with a few leeks and down it all in one go. The flavor combinations are out of this world, and are only enhanced by a swig of soju, the local fire water.

Type of Food: Korean BBQ
Address: 107 Seongnam-dong, Gangneung, Gangwon-do, South Korea
Phone: +82-33-646-1923
Hours: Daily 5-10:30pm

Pino (피노) 

Looking for a nice date spot to take your SO? Consider Pino, one of Gangneung’s most well known Italian restaurants. Here, diners can enjoy a relaxed atmosphere in a spacious, modern setting that exudes class.

The menu is vast, featuring around 20 varieties of pasta dishes, as well as a selection of pizzas, steak, salads and risotto – not to mention reasonably priced wine. While the dishes are created to satisfy local palates (expect your pizza to be served alongside pickles), Pino is still the closest you’ll get to real Italian fare on the east coast. Most entrees are priced around the 15,000 won mark, but there are lunch sets and dinner course menus to chose from as well.

Type of Food: Italian, Fusion
Address: 42-1, Palsong-gil, Gangneung-si, Gangwon-do, South Korea
Phone: +82-33-652-3300
Hours: Daily 10am-10pm

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Geumhak Kalguksu (금학칼국수) 

Tucked into an obscure alley in downtown Gangneung is Geumhak Kalguksu. There’s only one dish served at this hole-in-the-wall joint and that dish is jang kalguksu, a tantalizing soup of thick, rough-cut buckwheat noodles and a spicy broth topped with seaweed flakes and sesame seeds.

Diners are seated in small rooms that are separated with rickety sliding wooden doors and are covered with scribblings left by diners that have come and gone over the years. Dine at this Gangneung gem and you’ll feel as if you’ve traveled back in time. It doesn’t get more authentically old school Korean than this.

Type of Food: Korean
Address: 14-1 Geumhak-dong, Gangneung, Gangwon-do, South Korea 
Phone: +82-33-646-0175
Hours: Daily 9am-9pm

홍익돈까스 (Hongik Port Cutlet) 

If the cold winter temperatures have you craving comfort food, make your way to Hongik Pork Cutlet. Here, you can devour fried pork cutlets that are as big as your head – and for less than 10,000 won! But don’t be fooled by their size – they’re tasty, too. If you’re still not full after chowing down on one of these babies, the cream pasta or udon will certainly fill you up. Welcome to carb heaven!

Type of Food: Korean/Japanese; Fusion
Address: 713-15, Gyo-dong, Gangneung-si, Gangwon-do, South Korea
Phone: +82-33-646-3330
Hours: Daily 11:30am-9:30pm (Break time: 2:30-4:30pm)

Uncle Bob 

Regulars describe Uncle Bob as “just like home,” the perfect spot to enjoy a good cup of coffee over a long, leisurely breakfast. Dishes such as breakfast bagels, hot dogs, homemade yogurt and muffins are served all day. Those looking to wind down after a day at the Games can also enjoy a glass of wine or beer on the outdoor patio in the evenings.

Type of Food: Brunch, Coffee
Address: 81-5 Nanseolheon-ro, Ponam 2(i)-dong, Gangneung-si, South Korea
Phone: +82 33-652-2700
Hours: Daily 10am – 10pm
Website: Click Here

Surf Table (서프테이블) 

A Korean take on Western-style brunch, Surf Table offers items such as eggs benedict, omelets, salads and sandwiches, all of which are in the 10-20,000 won range. They also have a big drink selection of coffee, teas, fruit juice, smoothies and beer. The bright, spacious interior makes it a nice place to waste away a morning.

Type of Food: Brunch
Address: 88-1 Jungang-dong, Gangneung, Gangwon-do, South Korea
Phone: +82-33-646-3642
Hours: Monday to Saturday 10am-9pm; Sunday 12-9pm
Website: Click Here

Banana Bay (바나나베이) 

Situated near Gyeongpo Lake, the newly opened Banana Bay is already attracting the attention of local foodies with its wide selection of Thai classics including spring rolls, Tom Yum Goong soup, papaya salad and pad thai. Save some room for dessert, as they serve up a great sticky rice with mango! Prices average around 15,000 per entrée.

Type of Food: Thai
Address: 2nd Floor, 388, Haean-ro, Chodang-dong, Gangneung, Gangwon-do, South Korea
Phone: +82-33-651-3963
Website: Click Here

Nongchon Sundubu (농촌순두부) 

In addition to seafood, Gangneung is well known for its sundubu (soft tofu), which is made from locally grown soybeans and seawater, and is often prepared and eaten within the same day. Perhaps one of the best places to try the local specialty is Nongchon Sundubu.

Here, diners can enjoy soft, melt-in-your-mouth tofu dishes that pair perfectly with a wide array of banchan, or side dishes. Service is friendly and an English menu is available.

Type of Food: Korean
Address: 126-1 Gangmun-dong, Gangneung, Gangwon-do, South Korea
Phone: +82-33-651-4009
Hours: Daily 6:30am-8:30pm; Closed Wednesdays

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Bikini Burger (비키니버거) 

Bikini Burger, located on Anmok Beach, is said to have the best burgers in Gangneung – if not Korea. The pint-sized restaurant only has a few options to choose from (Bikini Burger, Bacon BBQ Burger, and Cheeseburger) but each hand-crafted patty is cooked perfectly so that it is both juicy and flavorful. Charging around 10-12,000 won for a set (burger, fries and a drink), Bikini Burger is a great spot for an affordable and tasty dinner.

Type of Food: Burgers
Address: 2668 Gyeonggang-ro, Geomamgyeongseo-dong, Gangneung-si, Gangwon-do, South Korea
Phone: +82-33-651-0208
Hours: Daily 1-9pm
Website: Click Here

Jungang Market (중앙시장) 

If you really want to get a taste for Korean culture, Joongang Market is the place to be. Joongang is the oldest traditional market on the Gangwon-do coast, but recent transformations have made it especially popular among younger generations.

Here, you can get your Korean street food fix, as vendors offer a wide variety of snacks such as tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes), mandu (dumplings), dakgangjeong (sweet and spicy fried chicken) and jeon (savory pancakes). For dessert, don’t pass up the chance to try one of the many twists on hotteok (pancake stuffed with brown sugar and honey) at Nolal Hotteok & Dumpling. The classic seed hotteok is a must-try, but if you’re feeling adventurous, opt for the cream cheese or mozzarella versions.

The rustic atmosphere adds to the experience, which is one that should not be missed.

Type of Food: Korean, Fusion
Address: 50 Seongnam-dong, Gangneung, Gangwon-do, South Korea 
Phone: +82-33-648-2285
Hours: Daily 8:30am-9pm
Website: Click Here

Man Na Dotori (만나도토리 임자탕) 

Dotori-muk, or acorn jelly, is a popular Korean dish which is a jelly-like food made from acorn starch. Man Na Dotori serves up various takes on this dish as well as other Korean classics such as mandu guk (dumpling soup) and jeon (savory pancakes). The restaurant is completely vegan – which is a rare case in Gangneung – and has an English menu, along with friendly servers.

Type of Food: Korean, Vegetarian, Vegan
Address: 1906-3 Gyo 1(il)-dong, Gangneung, Gangwon-do, South Korea 
Phone: +82-33-641-8747
Hours: Daily 10:30am-9pm, Closed Sundays

Café Paul and Mary (카페폴앤메리) 

Paul and Mary is a cozy cafe that overlooks Gangneung’s Gyungpo Beach and serves up decent burgers. Choose from options such as Bacon Mozzarella Burger, Hawaiian Burger, and Chili Mozzarella Burger, among others, and don’t forget the fries! Expect to pay around 10,000 won for a full meal.

Type of Food: Burgers
Address: 33 Changhae-ro 350beon-gil, Gangmun-dong, Gangneung, Gangwon-do, South Korea
Phone: +82-33-653-2354
Hours: 10am-9:30pm

Baking Farmer (빵짓는 농부) 

As Gangneung’s first vegan bakery, Baking Farmer aims to serve healthy baked goods using whole-wheat flour, natural yeast and other nutritious ingredients such as grains, vegetables and fruit. The bakery not only refrains from using additives or artificial flavors, it also avoids the use of dairy products.

Favorite items include the organic natural yeast heungguk whole wheat bread loaf and the organic natural yeast whole wheat bread loaf. They can be purchased by the loaf (10,000 won) or by the slice.

Type of Food: Bread, Baked Goods, Vegan
Address: 470-15 Naegok-dong, Gangneung, Gangwon-do, South Korea
Phone: +82-33-646-2668
Hours: Monday-Wednesday 9am-8pm; Thursday 9am-7pm; Friday-Saturday 9am-8pm; Sunday closed
Website: Click Here

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Bossa Nova (보사노바)

Located on Gangneung’s famous Coffee Street near Anmok Beach, Café Bossa Nova is a coffee-lover’s dream. Situated across four floors and a rooftop terrace, the gorgeous coffee house offers incredible ocean views of the East Sea (aka Sea of Japan). But the views aren’t the only reason to visit. Café Bossa Nova serves a selection of tasty coffee beverages (around 5,000 won each) using only the highest quality coffee beans. The drinks pair excellently with a freshly-baked croissant (2,500 won) or an indulgent pain au chocolat (2,500 won).

Phone: +82-33-653-0038
Hours: Daily 9am-midnight

Terarosa (Imdang Branch) (테라로사 (임당점)) 

Established in the Imdang-dong neighborhood in downtown Gangneung in 2003, Terarosa boasts a wide selection of coffee from various regions of the world. Offering a warm, cozy ambiance, the franchise – which is known all around the Korean peninsula for its excellent coffee – also serves different types of bread and desserts.

Type of Food: Coffee, Cafe
Address: 9, Munhwaui-gil, Gangneung-si, Gangwon-do, South Korea
Hours: Daily, 9am to 10pm
Website: Click Here

Bbang Dabang (빵다방) 

South Koreans are crazy for cream buns – and for good reason! Sweet, soft and smooth, they are a great afternoon pick-me-up, especially when paired with a cup of coffee. Perhaps one of the best places to sample these delectable desserts is Bbang Dabang.

The café uses 100% fresh cream without any additives and bakes their buns daily. Among their signature cream buns include their strawberry bun (3,000 won), which is made from strawberry cream and real strawberry fruit, as well as their green tea bun (3,000 won), which consists of bittersweet green tea cream layered with sweetened red beans.

Type of Food: Dessert, Coffee
Address: 1148-8 Ponam 1(il)-dong, Gangneung, Gangwon-do, South Korea
Phone: +82-33-642-8807
Hours: Daily 12:00-9:00pm, Closed Monday
Website: Click Here

Warehouse (웨어하우스) 

If you’re looking for a spot to party the night away, look no further than Warehouse in downtown Gangneung. In addition to being known for friendly service and decent drinks, Warehouse boasts dart boards, pool tables, poker tables, Nintendo Wii and beer pong tables to keep people entertained until the early hours of the morning. The bar also is reputed to have a great sound system and DJs spin on Friday and Saturday nights, making it the place to head to if you’ve got your dancing shoes on. Attire is casual, and, according to the bar’s Facebook page, visitors are more than welcome to bring their own food.

Address: 9-1 Seongnae-dong Gangneung, Gangwon-do South Korea
Phone: +82-10-6793-8279
Hours: Sunday-Thursday 8pm-4am; Friday-Saturday 8pm-5am
Website: Click Here


Words by Mimsie Ladner of Seoul Searching. Content may not be reproduced unless authorized.