by Michael Jones.
El Pino 323 has received tons of press since it first opened last year near Aeogae Station, but has recently moved to Noksapyeong. Due to the hype, which is well deserved, we waited for a long time to write our review so we needed a refresher at their new location. So, yesterday we went and enjoyed it even more than we remembered. The new restaurant is on the second floor and is beautifully designed. There is plenty of natural light and the bar is elegant and well-stocked. The new space offers a much different dining experience from the original location and the owners deserve it. Their food is outstanding. Yesterday we ordered Chile Verde (Green Chile) (6,000 won), Tamales (6,000 won), Huarache with Carnitas (14,500 won), and a Carnitas Burrito Bowl (13,800 won). While I was chomping away I kept thinking about the adjectives I would use to write this review and the one word that kept coming to the front of my mind was flavor. Nothing was even remotely dull. I know Mexican cuisine should always be full of flavor, but I’ve been disappointed by bland Mexican food plenty of times. We started with the Chile Verde and the taste reminded us of the places we went to in Denver, but much better. The slow cooked pork added a fatty creaminess to the tangy tomatillo and spicy chilies. The Chile came with a side of warm maize tortillas which acted as the perfect bowl to mouth delivery system. The Tamale is made of masa and steamed in a corn husk. The inside was warm, creamy, delectable, and comforting. It’s not hard to understand why people have been eating Tamales for thousands of years. The Huarache with Carnitas was phenomenal. Yesterday was our first time trying this dish, but it won’t be the last. Huarache is a circular piece of fried masa that is topped with various ingredients. Ours was topped with carnitas, cheese, cilantro, salsa, and chilis. The carnitas were tender, smoky, and slightly crispy on the outside. The richness of the pork was complemented by the spiciness of the salsa, fresh cilantro, bitterness of squeezed lemon, and the soft doughy masa. I like to think of this as an open faced sandwich on another level. The burrito bowl was colossal and I was surprised. I’m a huge eater, my friends would probably say that is a vast understatement, but even I was impressed by the portion size. The bowl was piled with carnitas, cilantro, beans and salsa, guacamole, diced onions, rice, and topped with a tortilla. By the way, his salsa and guacamole is without a doubt some of the best I’ve ever tasted. This bowl is a delightful combination of many amazing ingredients and every bite explodes with contrasting flavors and textures. I could ramble on and on about how great the food is at El Pino 323, but the best thing to do is try it. Chef D is clearly passionate about the recipes he learned from his grandmother and is meticulous in its preparation and presentation. This dedication to preparation, authenticity, and commitment to high quality ingredients makes El Pino 323 a shining example of Mexican cuisine.
Directions: Go to Noksapyeong station, exit 1. Turn left and then either cross the bridge or walk across the street, and turn left (so you're heading in the direction of Kyungridan street). Walk down a little bit and El Pino will be on your right :)
by Ashley Heil
B'mucho Cantina is a small, cozy Mexican restaurant nestled down a small alley in Yeonnam-dong (near Hongdae exit 3), and is our new favorite Mexican restaurant. Though it has been open since 2013, we have only recently discovered it after hearing about it from friends. This place is great not only because of its taste, but also because of its reasonable prices, great atmosphere, and ample portion sizes. The music and the ambiance reminded me of some Mexican restaurants from back in the states and the food was outstanding.
I started with the spicy margarita (9,000), and my friends started with the Horchata. The margarita was the best margarita I've had in Seoul so far. I loved the little bit of spicy kick it had, it really contrasted the sour flavors well. I tried my boyfriend's Horchata as well, and it was also excellent. We shared a side of guacamole and chips as an appetizer (8,000 won). It was delightful and filled with a little bit of pico de gallo and cilantro on the side. For our main dishes, my boyfriend got the Carne asada burrito (12,000 won). While he was eating, I frequently heard "mmm” coming from him and he told us it was the best burrito he’s had in Seoul so far. I ordered the Enfrijoladas (16,000 won), because It was the first time I've seen it in Korea.It’s basically a smothered tortilla dish, filled with chicken and I had it topped with chorizo as well. I was really impressed by the portion size; I’m a big eater and I could not finish it. The chicken tortillas were smothered with cheese and black beans, and the bit of spice from the chorizo contrasted so nicely with the creamy tortillas. It was such a comforting, delicious dish. My friend ordered the Enchilada Verde (14,000 won), which I tried as well and it was fantastic. The tortillas were filled with chicken and onions, and were topped with cheese and a slightly spicy green chile sauce that reminded me of Mexican food from Colorado. The portion size of the Enchilada Verde was also massive. This place can be pretty popular so make sure you get there early or are prepared to wait. We only had to wait about 5 minutes though on a Sunday night. Enjoy, and let me know what you think!
Directions: 서울특별시 마포구 연남동 227-8번지
Go to Hongdae station, exit 3.
Cross the street and walk up the left side of the road that runs at a diagonal (연회로),
Walk down the road 5-10 minutes.
Before the big intersection, turn left on the small road at 서울동부교회.
It'll be on your left. It is near Cafe Libre.
Hours: Monday: closed
Wednesday-Friday: 12:30-3:00, 5:30-10
Saturday: 1:00-3:00, 5:30-9
Sunday: 1:00-3:00, 5:30-9
by Ashley Heil
Dos Tacos is probably my favorite burrito/taco restaurant in Seoul. Sure, there are some other good ones such as Vatos, but the cheaper prices at Dos Tacos and the hit-the-spot satisfaction I get from eating at Dos Tacos always keeps me coming back. I've only been to the location in Hyehwa, but I've also heard the Gangnam location is great.
I always get their chips and salsa to split with my boyfriend for 3500 won. The chips have the perfect amount of salt and you get two different salsas with it. If you want, you can get an extra order of chips for 1000 won. My favorite burrito is the go-gi (meat) and avocado burrito (I normally order it with pork). It is 9500 won and is one of the largest burritos I've seen in Seoul! It comes with a Flour tortilla, Cheese, Meat, Mild salsa, Jalapeno, Onion, Avocado, Sour cream, Lettuce, Pico de gallo, and Cilantro. This burrito is a little messy from the sauce, but is perfect in every way. Compared to Vatos, I tend to think this burrito is not as fancy, but it is delicious and just more satisfying. ) This time, my friend got the new burrito bowl for 10,000 won(which he said was good) and the french fries as an appetizer (7900 won). The french fries were hot, although the cheese on top seemed a bit fake. Finally, I ordered a draft lime beer (4000 won) to wash it all down. In addition to the above items, there are also chimichangas, enchiladas, tacos, soft drinks (2000 win with unlimited refills), margaritas, coronitas, nachos, and flautas available.
Directions: From Hyehwa station exit 4, come out and go to the left. Keep walking a while until you get to a big intersection at 대학로 11 길. Turn right, and look for the starbucks across the street and to the left a little. Cross the street, and turn right in front of the Starbucks. It will be a little ways down on the left.
From 성균관 (Sungkyunkwan) bus stop facing toward the big Dunkin Donuts shop, then take the little alley between Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks. It's a little ways down the road on the left.
We're just a couple addicted to great food. We love Anthony Bourdain!