Downtowner may only have a couple burgers on its menu, but what it lacks in variety, it makes up for in taste. The Avocado Burger is the star of the show, and pairs perfectly with the crinkle cut fries which come in several varieties like Garlic Butter and Parmesan Cheese. Starting at 6,800 won ($6 USD) for a single patty cheeseburger, Downtowner also offers the best bang for your buck (er – won) with prices otherwise unheard of in this neighborhood.
683-63 Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea, +82-70-8820-3696
If you’re looking for a meal like Mom used to make (that is, if your mother is Korean) try Ilhochic, a gorgeous sit-down venue that serves up traditional Korean fare with a contemporary twist. Focused around simple and healthy cuisine, the menu offers a variety of set meals that feature entrees such as Brown Rice with Fresh Salmon and Noodles topped with Vegetables in Dried Anchovy Broth that are served with a selection of banchan, or side dishes. The modern, minimalistic interior ensures that diners are not only comfortable, but focused on the food.
68-4, Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea, +82-2-794-2648
If superfood is what you seek, there’s no better place to find it than at La Ferme. Serving hot and cold dishes featuring ingredients such as quinoa, spirulina and goji berries with Instagram-worthy plating, this sleek new spot makes a great spot for brunch or a casual date. Beat the heat with the Chickpea Salad – a bed of hummus topped with whole chickpeas, mint, ricotta, spinach, tomato, grapefruit and lemon vinaigrette dressing. Additionally, you receive a thick slice of homemade bread with creamy beet hummus schmear. The dishes are not only filling, well balanced and healthy – they’re addictively good.
32, Itaewon-ro 54-gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea, +82-8-790-6685
No one does fusion better than Sticky Pot, a trendy restaurant located in the buzzy, contemporary D Museum. Combining Korean ingredients with Western dishes, the restaurant’s menu features a creative collection of culinary treats like Squid Arrabiata Sesame Leaf Pesto Pasta and Lotus Root Truffle Cream Pasta. Its most popular dish, however, is its specialty: Black Fried Chicken served with black sesame sauce. Pair it with one of the restaurant’s diverse beverages, such as sherbet beer.
5-6 Dokseodang-ro 29-gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea, +822-795-6255
The Blind Pig
Although South Korea has enforced a strict indoor-smoking ban since 2013, The Blind Pig is one of the few venues where cigar enthusiasts can enjoy a Montecristo No 2. alongside a Hibiki 21 in the great indoors. With table dining in addition to sophisticated bar seating, the venue feels spacious enough despite its basement location. Even the pickiest imbiber will appreciate the bar’s signature cocktails (try the Bacon Old Fashioned!), which are served up with a selection of packaged gourmet chocolates.
62, Daesagwan-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea, +82-10-9000-0502
Anthracite Coffee Roasters
Although it’s not difficult to find a spot to get a good cup of joe in Hannam-dong, Anthracite Coffee Roasters stands out from the rest with its artisanal single origin and blended coffee, roasted in house. Upon entering this cultural complex of sorts, visitors are immediately put at ease by its industrial aesthetics and relaxed ambiance, enhanced by jazz tracks that play softly in the background. Their bakery selection – thick banana bread, hearty carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and a vegan fruit cake – is also noteworthy.
738-20 Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea, +82-2-797-7009
With no sign, the discreetly located Speakeasy Mortar stays true to its name. In fact, you’re only allowed access once a staff member, who slides open a tiny slit on the heavy wooden door to check your identity, lets you in. This WiFi-free establishment that enforces a strict ban on photo-taking will immediately transport you to a bygone era filled with excellent music and even better single-malt whiskey served by polished, chatty bartenders.
73-4, Dokseodang-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea, +82-70-4288-7168
Imperial Palace Boutique Hotel
With its colorful, blocky façade, the Imperial Palace Boutique Hotel stands out from the otherwise gray structures that punctuate Hannam-dong. But it’s not until entering this art-centric establishment that hotel guests realize just how unique it truly is. From the oversized armchair lobby seating and the luggage trunk-like elevators to the tastefully designed rooms, each boasting their own theme, the IP is a design lover’s dream.
737-32, Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea, +82-2-3702-8000
Made up of a gigantic stack of 14 vibrantly colored shipping containers, the appropriately named Orange Cube guesthouse is the tallest container building in South Korea. Creatively decorated by Design Guild with various items such as wooden chairs and 3D printed light covers, each of the fully-furnished, independent housing units is chock full of delightful design surprises. The ground floor cafe is full of objects and drawings the architects have created over the past few years, and serves up tasty coffee to keep you going through the day.
32 Hannam-daero, 42-gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea, +82-10-4912-2929