Saying “Si” to Mexican Food in Seoul
When I was studying abroad in Italy several years ago, the first thing I missed about home was Mexican food. Maybe things have changed now, but in 2006, there wasn’t a single Mexican restaurant in all of Rome. One weekend my friends and I went to Milan, and when we realized there were Mexican restaurants there, we ate two Mexican meals in a row. That’s a little embarrassing now, since I think Italy has the best food in the world…but at the time, I really wanted that cheddar!
Needless to say, Matt and I found ourselves in the same situation here in Korea. We make a lot of Italian food at home, so we haven’t missed that much, and we can get pretty decent Indian food and Thai food in our town, but alas, little Gwangju doesn’t have any Mexican food. No surprise there, but even making it at home is difficult since things like cheddar cheese, tortillas and beans are super expensive and hard to find, and even if you do find them. But luckily for us, Seoul is just a short little jaunt away. Here are two Mexican places in Seoul we’ve tried and liked:
This place is so awesome. We have been here a handful of times, and we’re already obsessed. I know it sounds totally weird, but it’s a Korean/Mexican fusion restaurant, and the restaurant was started by two Korean Americans. They specialize in California-style street tacos, make their own tortilla chips and salsa (first basket is free), and have awesome Korean/Mexican combos like kimchi quesadillas and kimchi carnitas fries. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven when I saw they had Nutella nachos for dessert, and I knew I had died once I tasted them. Plus, they have a bunch of really interesting drinks, like a Makgeollita (a margarita made with makgeolli, which is Korean rice wine), Mexican martinis, bloody mary’s, and real Mexican beer. I haven’t had any of the drinks yet, but I hear they’re tasty.
Everyone who works there speaks English, and most sound like it’s their first language. It’s a tiny place, but every time we’ve been there it’s been packed. If you’re craving Mexican food and are in the Itaewon area, you must check it out!
To get there, take Seoul subway line 6 to Itaewon, and leave through exit 3. Turn left at the light, and walk past the Taco Bell, then take the first right. Pass Wolfhound and Family Mart, and Vatos is on the left, on the second floor above a coffee shop.
This place is a little more run-of-the-mill than Vatos, but it’s also cheaper and closer to our place (an hour and a half instead of two hours). They have a pretty big menu, including tacos, burritos, quesadillas, flautas and chimichangas, to name a few. We’ve been to two of their three different locations, and the staff is always friendly–at the Gangnam location, the manager felt bad that we had to wait a long time for a seat, so he brought us free drinks once we were seated. Overall, it would probably not stand out as anything special back home in the States, but it’s good Mexican food for Korea, hearty portions, decent price, friendly staff and they have Mexican beer and sodas.
To get to the Gangnam location, take Seoul subway line 2 to Gangnam Station. Leave through exit 6, walk straight for a few minutes and watch for the sign on the left side.
To get to the Hongdae location, take Seoul subway line 2 to Hongik University Station. Leave through exit 6, and take a left after the restaurant VIPS. Walk straight for a few minutes and it will be on the left.
To get to the Apgujeong location, take Seoul subway line 3 to the Apgujeong Station. Leave through exit 3, and take a left after Hotel Sunshine. Go straight for one block and it will be on the right.