Craftworks Taphouse, Itaewon
Craftworks Taphouse is a small pub on the western side of Itaewon that specializes in their own house-recipe beers. While some might consider the place a brew pub, that name might be misleading since their beer is made by a contract brewer dozens of kilometers away in the mountains of Gapyeong in Gyeonggi Province.
I first found Craftworks beer at a pub in Itaewon called the Bull and Barrel. The first one I tried was called Baekdusan, and it was a great German-style hefeweizen the beer was tall and cold and served in a Craftworks brewery hefeweizen glass. The second one I tried was called Geumgang, and it was a good heavy dark ale. Like the Craftworks hefeweizen, this beer was cold, fresh, and served in a Craftworks brewery glass.
A week later, I found the main branch of Craftworks, located close to Noksapyeong Station, and I enjoyed a few more of their tasty beers. I started with the Moon Bear IPA, named after the Asian black bear, and it was a good, hoppy beer. I finished this visit with their oatmeal stout.
The staff here is made up almost entirely of friendly foreigners. Come during happy hour for 2,000 Won of each beer.
Castle Praha, Hongdae
Castle Praha is known as much for its European-styled architecture as for its craft beer; when your service is a bad as this place, you have to be known for something.
I arrived early in the evening a grabbed a seat at the bar. I was then ignored for at least 20 minutes, until I was finally able to flag down a server and order a beer. My first brew was the Pimator Hefeweizen, which was a good beer. When finished, I again had to spend 5 minutes trying to find a waiter to order the Granat Brown Ale. I was finished after two, so I just walked to the door, knowing they would respond to get their money.
Queens Head, Hongdae
Queens Head is a relatively new craft beer bar tucked down a small side alley in Hongdae. This tiny British-style pub opened in 2010, but the original pub of the same name was in Suwon for many years previous to that. They only offer the basic three beers, a pilsner, a dunkel, and a hefeweizen. While reviewers rave about the weizen, a bartender said I should try the pils, and I was a bit disappointed.
They offer complimentary breadsticks with a lemon-honey dipping sauce. Very unique and refreshing.
The biggest negative? No seats at the bar, and it was obvious they were not used to customers stopping at the bar to order a pint.
Yong 9 Beer, Hongdae
Yong 9 is a tiny bar on a side alley in Hongdae that specializes in beer mixed with fruit juices, or something odd like that. They also have a few European and Korean beers, but not much variety.
Their food is basic fried appetizer. I ordered what looked like shumai dumplings, but they came out tasting like they were frozen and probably microwaves.
The good things here include the plugs at the bar you can use to charge your smartphone. They also have a few quiet outdoor seats along the street.
Craft Hans Craft Beer Bar, Itaewon
Craft Hans is a small craft beer bar located on the alley behind the Hamilton Hotel in the middle of Itaewon. The small bar offers four craft beers made from the bar's brewery just outside of Seoul: a pale ale, IPA, brown ale, and a hefeweizen. Beers are 6,000 to 7,000 Won and some basic foods are available for less than 10,000 Won.
I had their brown ale and the IPA on a visit to Seoul a few weeks ago. The bartender recommended the brown ale, and it was smooth and tasty. I chose the IPA, and it too was tasty. For some reason, the workers here dress like Amish.
At one point during my visit (at around 10pm) a drunk American showed up and complained that this store used to be a convenience store and that Itaewon was f'ing ruined. News flash... this was never a convenience store, and Itaewon is so much better now than 10 years ago that it isn't even comparable.
Bull and Barrel Pub, Itaewon
The Bull and Barrel is one of the newer and bigger pubs in Itaewon, this one located on the quieter alley across the street to the south of the Hamilton Hotel. I wandered in one Friday night, and it was pretty quiet, but they had Korean baseball on TV, so I grabbed a seat at the bar. I quickly noticed the unique Korean beers on the menu, Baekdusan Hefeweizen and Geumgan dark ale. I started the with hefeweizen, a nice, tasty beer, from a brewery just one subway stop away. The Geumgan was also good, and from the same brewery. These beers are made by Craftworks brewery located in Itaewon (Noksapyeong Station) and the beer is brewed in the mountains of Gapyeong in Gyeonggi Province.
I also had dinner while I was here. The menu was full of Western bar food, so the decision was difficult, but I finally selected the barbecued pulled pork sandwich. It was not great, but I was hungry, so I ate the whole thing. The crunchy toasted bun was the highlight, and the cole slaw and fries were good, but the meat was not well flavored.
Seven Luck Casino: Gambling
Don't forget to bring your passport when entering the casino. You need to have it. I believe this prevents the South Korean community from participating. We didn't go to the casino but people we traveled with checked it out.
Most hotels and restaurants do not allow smoking but there was smoking in the casino.Related to:
- Luxury Travel
Skim45° Microbrewery is one of the newest nightlife spots in Itaewon, an area suddenly full of new nightlife spots. Skim45° sells Korean craft beers from a brewery in a suspiciously unknown place off premises, and likely outside of Seoul. They have an IPA, a hefeweizen, and a stout on tap, but the IPA is below average. They also have very good thin crust pizza.
Beers are 7,000 Won to 9,000 Won, and pizzas range in price from about 12,000 Won to 15,000 Won. The staff, especially Danielle, are very friendly and talkative.
Bier Halle is the name of a small chain of German-style beer and sausage houses located throughout Seoul. I have visited a few of the restaurants in such areas as Gangnam and Gwangwhamun. The restaurants seem to be generally located in basements, and are decorated in an old European style with red brick and wood. The restaurants are bright and open, a little too bright for my taste. The menu includes smoked meats and fishes, pizza, fried foods, salads, German foods like schnitzel, and of course beer.
A half liter of Korean beer (OB, Cass) runs a cheap 3,000 Won, a 1.7 liter pitcher costs 9,900 Won, and the huge 2.7 liter pitcher is 15,500 Won. They also offer European beers like Krombacher, Hoegaarden, Beck's, Heineken, and Paulaner from 5,000 to 7,000 won.
Soju Tent: Pojangmacha
Pojangmacha, known among Westerners as soju tents, are some of Korea's most popular eating and drinking establishments. The Korean name literally means covered wagon, and the tents are usually heap, temporary structures covered in orange or green tarps on busy streets.
In a city known for its street food, pojongmacha is the cornerstone of late night eating and drinking. Usually you can find, beer and soju here, along with a variety of quick and easy snacks like chicken on a stick, mandu, kimbap, Korean pancakes called hotteok, spicy rice called known as tteokbokki, and Korean blood sausage.
Though the city has tried to eliminate soju tents, it is estimated that over 3,000 still line the streets of Seoul.
Texas Bar, Seoul City Hall Area
Texas Bar bills itself as an ice bar, but it is more of a traditional Western-style bar. It is Western-style, but not truly Western... this older bar just isn't quite a perfect replica.
We saw the bar from across the street, noticing the big, red facade and outdoor seating. Upon entering, the first thing we saw was the pyramid of beer bottles that looked like a modern Buddhist (Beer-dhist?) temple. We sat a table between the windows and a second bottle-pyramid even bigger than the first. We ordered two Leffe Brune beers, but ended up with Leffe Blonde. Later I was able to get a Leffe Brune. Our bill was around 18,000 Won for the three beers.
Though dated, this is a clean, comfortable spot for a drink.
The Jazz - Jongno
The Jazz is a bar (on the site of previous bars), located just a half block south of Tapgol Park at the southern end of Insadong. The bar is located on the second floor, above a CU (formerly Family Mart) convenience store. It is a large bar that overlooks two big streets, and it has large comfortable couches for its guests.
We relaxed in this bar for about 45 minutes one Friday before heading to Inchon to fly home from a visit to Seoul. I had an OB Golden Lager and L had a mojito. Our bill was a reasonable 15,000 Won. The bar is open and full of light, and very relaxing, with light Western background music. The biggest negative are the Fruit Loop cereal-flavored balls that taste stale and cheap.
Location at Hongik University area. The Hongdae area is one of the most popular night life spots for Koreans and foreigners. The area has a thriving underground music, with many clubs showcasing live bands on weekends. Like any other college area in Korea, there are also many pool halls, noraebangs, and movie rooms. On the last Friday of every month these clubs host a Club Day. With W15,000 ticket gains partygoers admittance into about 15 clubs, with one drink on the house.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
Gecko's Terrace: Popular Itaewon bar
Gecko's is one of the most popular bars in Itaewon. It attracts a lot of foreigners, ranging from Canadian English teachers to American G.I.'s from the nearby base.
There is reasonably-priced draft beer and bar food: mostly western-style stuff like burgers and steak sandwiches.
If you are new to Seoul and don't speak any Korean, this is a good place to go. All of the bar staff and most of the customers speak English.
Dress Code: Relaxed.Related to:
- Study Abroad
- Work Abroad
- Budget Travel
A vital part of Korean nightlife is the Noraebang (singing rooms, Korean Karaoke) where you can sing (and maybe dance to the music as well) in a private room equipped with video and audio systems. All generations can enjoy their private stages.Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Arts and Culture
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