The 27 Oldest Restaurants In Seoul and Why You Need To Find Them – The Soul of Seoul

There are a lot of trendy cafes and restaurants in Seoul but you’ll find that they’re often short lived, a flash in the pan as they say. Article upon article is written about the hottest restaurants in Seoul, Korea right now, but check them a year later and you could be hard-pressed to find many of those viral sensations still existing.

When it comes to the best restaurants in Seoul for me and my husband, they’re usually the oldest restaurants in Seoul that we seek out because of their longevity and consistency, it’s a sure way to get a good and delicious meal.

I love heading to Myeongdong to go shopping and Insadong for the souvenirs and culture, but when it’s time to eat, we find the tried and true restaurants to enjoy. If you want to be assured you’re getting delicious Korean food, definitely check out one of the oldest restaurants in Seoul.

Korean food, Korean table setting

The oldest restaurants in Seoul are where you should be eating:

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Common Dishes You’ll Find At The Oldest Restaurants In Seoul

Before we get too deep in to the deliciousness of the oldest restaurants in Seoul, I think you need to know what you’ll be eating. As you check out the restaurants, you’ll notice a bit of a theme in what they serve with some common old-school Korean delicacies. So, in case you don’t know…

Jungrimjang Seolleongtang, Seoul, KoreaJungrimjang Seolleongtang, Seoul, Korea

What is seolleongtang (설농탕)?

Seolleongtang (설농탕) is a milky beef bone soup that’s made by boiling down ox leg bones for several hours until the broth becomes rich and creamy white. This soup isn’t spicy which makes it easy to eat for kids as well as your favorite but unadventurous foodie friend. The best seolleongtang restaurants are known for their broth so pay special attention to how it tastes as you sup.

chuotang (추어탕), Korean loach fish soup, mud fish stewchuotang (추어탕), Korean loach fish soup, mud fish stew

What is chuotang (추어탕)?

Chuotang (추어탕) is mud fish stew. The mudfish, or loach fish, is crushed up in its entirety and boiled with leaks, green onions, cabbage, garlic, soybean paste and red pepper paste. It has a very familiar taste, yet it’s hard to say exactly what it is.

To me it’s a bit like an all spice taste and at times the bite can be a little gritty, ground up fish after all, but it’s worth it. On top of that, loach fish soup/mud fish stew is quite healthy.

Hadongkwan, Gomtang Soup, Myeongdong, Seoul, KoreaHadongkwan, Gomtang Soup, Myeongdong, Seoul, Korea

What is gomtang (곰탕)?

Another seemingly simple looking soup that is all about a delectable nutrient-dense broth that has been stewed for hours, gomtang is a traditional soup that was enjoyed by the royal courts. It is typically a clear beef soup made by boiling different cuts of beef including ribs, ox tail, and brisket, among other parts.

The difference between gomtang and seolleongtang:

While it may sound similar to the above seolleongtang, there are some differences. Gomtang and seolleongtang differ primarily in their use of ox bone, with gomtang being a clear beef soup made from brisket and other beef cuts, and seolleongtang a milky white beef bone soup from boiling cow shank, head, and bones.

Additionally, the seasoning is slightly different with gomtang being seasoned with guk-ganjang or soup soy sauce, whereas seolleongtang is seasoned with salt. If you like one though, you’ll likely enjoy the other in my experience.

The Oldest Restaurants In Seoul

When you start to plot the oldest restaurants in Seoul out on your trusty map, you’ll likely notice that they’re north of the Han River. Is it a coincidence? Not at all. The districts south of the river weren’t developed until later so if you’re on the hunt for the oldest of anything, you’ll find it in the north, or Gangbuk (강북) area of Seoul.

To be up front, we haven’t yet eaten at all of these restaurants. This is as much a list for you as it is for me. I found a list of Seoul’s oldest restaurants on Korea Joongang Daily and was pleasantly surprised to realize we’d eaten at quite a few and then gave myself the mission of eating at more of them. (We all need our aspirations, right?)

If you compare the lists, you’ll notice there are some missing from there and some I’ve added. Some of the originals from the article have closed unfortunately and I just know some good old restaurants too. For the ones we haven’t yet eaten at, I checked out the menu, the reviews, and the history to fill in the info gaps. Get ready to plan what’s for dinner in Seoul.

Imun Seolnongtang (이문설농탕), Insadong, Seoul, KoreaImun Seolnongtang (이문설농탕), Insadong, Seoul, Korea

Imun Seolleongtang (이문설농탕)

What to eat: Seolleongtang

Opened in 1904, it was the first restaurant licensed by Seoul City. The seolleongtang has a thinner broth than some other places but really hits the spot. We’ve eaten here numerous times. If you’re visiting during lunch hour, you’ll find it to be very busy with local business-people and you might need to wait.

Go a bit earlier or later to walk right in. If you’re in the Insadong area and want something that is delicious and has been around for more than 100 years proving why it’s good, this is where you should be eating.

  • Address: 38-13 Woojeongguk-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul (서울 종로구 우정국로 38-13)
  • Hours: Every day: 8:00am ~ 9:00pm (Break time: 3:00pm ~ 4:30pm)

Yonggeumok (용금옥)

What to eat: Chuotang

Opened in 1932 in a different location, it has been in its current location since 1961 and serves Seoul-style chuotang as well as Jeollanam-do style chuotang. What’s the difference? Seoul-style has whole loach in the stew while Jeollanam-do is made with ground loach.

I’m a Jeolla-style loach soup lover myself, but this is THE spot to try Seoul-style if you want to try it. Now, there have been three generations of chuotang masters serving up delicious stews that are made daily.

  • Address: 24-2 Dadong-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul (서울 중구 다동길 24-2)
  • Hours: Monday – Saturday: 11:00am ~ 10:00pm
Eunho Restaurant (은호식당), Seoul, KoreaEunho Restaurant (은호식당), Seoul, Korea

Eunho Restaurant (은호식당)

What to eat: Kkori Gomtang

Opened in 1932 originally in Namdaemun Market under the name of Pyeonghwaok, this restaurant has gone through four generations as Eunho Restaurant now. Their kkori gomtang is cooked using only oxtail bones for a thinner lighter bone broth.

Ideal spot if you’re near Seoullo 7017 and Seoul Station or are visiting Culture Station Seoul 284 and Docking Seoul.

  • Address: 28-4 Namdaemunsijang 4-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul (서울 중구 남대문시장4길 28-4)
  • Hours: Monday – Friday: 6:05am ~ 9:00pm; Saturday – Sunday: 6:05am ~ 4:00pm

Jaem Bae Ok (잼배옥)

What to eat: Kkori Gomtang

Opened in 1933 in a different location, the restaurant you find today has been in it’s current location since 1982. Known for a delicious bowl of gomtang, this is an ideal spot to check out if you’re near Sungnyemun Gate (숭례문) (Namdaemun) and Deoksugung Palace.

  • Address: 68-9 Sejongdaero 9-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul (서울 중구 세종대로9길 68-9)
  • Hours: Monday – Friday: 10:00am ~ 9:30pm (Break time: 3:00pm ~ 5:00pm); Saturday: 11:00am ~ 3:00pm
Cheongjinok (청진옥), Seoul, KoreaCheongjinok (청진옥), Seoul, Korea

Cheongjinok (청진옥)

What to eat: Haejangguk

Opened in 1937, this restaurant serves haejangguk (해장국), commonly known as hangover soup. For a country that does a lot of drinking, you won’t be surprised they have a number of hangover cures with the most traditional being a hydrating soup.

You should also not be surprised that they open super early in the morning so people that are going for an all-night binge can eat this as their last round of a night out before drifting off to sleep.

Cheongjinok serves one of my husband’s favorite versions of haejangguk, a soup made with cabbage, congealed ox blood, and a hearty beef broth. If you’re wondering what a good Korean cow intestine soup tastes like, try it here. Just a note, not all haejangguk is made this way. You can find “haejangguk” on many a menu but they aren’t all the same.

  • Address: 32 Jongno 3-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul (서울 종로구 종로3길 32)
  • Hours: Every day: 6:00am ~ 9:30pm
Hadongkwan (하동관), Myeongdong, Seoul, KoreaHadongkwan (하동관), Myeongdong, Seoul, Korea

Hadonggwan (하동관)

What to eat: Gomtang and Seolleongtang

Our go-to restaurant when we’re in the Myeongdong area and want something tried and true, no thrills or frills, Hadonggwan will hit the spot. There are plenty of places to eat in Myeongdong to be sure, but Hadonggwan, which opened in 1939, is the oldest. This restaurant serves up a delicious bowl of gomtang (곰탕) and seolleongtang.

  • Address: 12 Myeongdong 9-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul (서울 중구 명동9길 12)
  • Hours: Monday – Saturday: 7:00am ~ 4:00pm

Hanilgwan (한일관)

Opened in 1939, this bulgogi and naengmyeon restaurant is said to have high-quality beef ribs simmered for more than 10 hours to make a rich galbitang broth with tender meat. Also added to the broth are ginko, chestnuts, jujube, garlic, ginseng, and radish. There’s something on the menu for everyone here and now they have a number of branches too.

  • Address: 14 Apgujeong-ro 38-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul (서울특별시 강남구 압구정로38길 14)
  • Hours: Every day: 11:30am ~ 10:00pm (Break time: 4:00pm ~ 5:00pm)

Okcheonok (옥천옥)

What to eat: Seolleongtang

Opened in 1941, Okcheonok serves seolleongtang. Apparently a favorite of former Korean president Lee Myung Bak. Someone check it out and tell me if the president had good taste.

  • Address: 16 Hajeong-ro, Dongdaemun-gu, Seoul (서울 동대문구 하정로 16)
  • Hours: Monday – Saturday: 7:00am ~ 9:00pm; Sunday: 7:00am ~ 3:00pm

Woorae-ok (우래옥)

What to eat: Pyeongyang naengmyeon (평양냉면) and Bulgogi (불고기)

Looking for a delicious bowl of Pyeongyang naengmyeon that even President Obama enjoyed? Check out Woorae-ok which opened in 1946. This place always has a line so get there early and just be prepared for a bit of a wait. Is it worth it though? Yes it is. Go hungry!

We eat a lot of Pyeongyang naengmyeon, it’s one of my husband’s favorite dishes, and this was up there in the goodness factor. I do think it’s a bit pricy though compared to other naengmyeon spots and is more based on hype, but would go back again.

  • Address: 62-29 Changgyeonggung-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul (서울 중구 창경궁로 62-29)
  • Hours: Tuesday – Sunday: 11:30am ~ 9:00pm
Buyeojib (부여집),Seoul, KoreaBuyeojib (부여집),Seoul, Korea

Buyeojib (부여집)

What to eat: Oxtail soup, doganitang, and seolleongtang

Opened in 1947, now in its third generation of ownership, they started as a doganitang, ox knuckle bone soup, restaurant. Known for their generous portion sizes, they added other soups to their menu and locals continue to flock to the restaurant to eat it up.

  • Address: 24 Seonyudong 1-ro, Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul (서울 영등포구 선유동1로 24)
  • Hours: Every day: 10:00am ~ 10:00pm
Gangseo Myeonok (강서면옥), Seoul, Korea: pyeongyang naengmyeonGangseo Myeonok (강서면옥), Seoul, Korea: pyeongyang naengmyeon

Gangseo Myeonok (강서면옥)

What to eat: Pyeongyang naengmyeon

Opened in 1948, it was the choice of visiting dignitaries from North Korea at the South-North Red Cross Conference. If you like pyeongyang naengmyeon as much as we do, then it’s a restaurant to add to your list.

  • Address: 35 Sejong-daero 11-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul (서울 중구 세종대로11길 35)
  • Hours: 11:00am ~ 10:00pm (Break time: 3:00pm ~ 5:00pm)

Jinjujib (진주집)

What to eat: Oxtail soup

Opened in 1950, this is a busy lunch spot for locals, though the main meal to try is quite pricy. I’m a fan of doganitang, ox knuckle soup, myself, so I’d go for that, but the gomtang looks to be very filling. This might be the next one on our list to check out.

  • Address: 22-2 Namdaemunsijang-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul (서울시 중구 남대문시장길 22-2)
  • Hours: Every day: 8:00am~ 9:00pm

Yeonnam Seo Sikdang (연남서식당)

What to eat: Korean bbq

Opened in 1953 just after the Korean War, don’t plan to sit if you’re heading to eat here. At a time when it was hard to get tables and people just made do, this family got their hands on some oil drums and propped them up to be used as grills and they became popular with local workers who had little time to eat anyway.

This is the original stand and eat spot, but you can find other restaurants similarly fashioned that jumped on what became a trend for standing restaurants later. It’s an experience, but don’t expect a ton of sides. Since the table is a grill, you pretty much just get the meat and drinks. If you want something more, you’ll have to bring it yourself.

  • Address: 15 Yeonhuimat-ro, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul (서울시 서대문구 연희맛로 15)*
    • If you’ve been before and thought it was in a different location, you’re right. It moved in 2022 so the address listed above where it is now established.
  • Hours: Tuesday – Sunday: 11:30am ~ 6:30pm

Mapo Jinjja Wonjo Choidaepo (마포진짜원조최대포)

What to eat: Galbi

Opened in 1956, if you visit, be sure to walk around a bit. There are some great things to do in Gongdeok and a lot of people really overlook the area. If you like Korean bbq, you’ll like what they’ve got on order; pork ribs, pig skin, and all the fixins.

  • Address: 112-4 Mapo-daero, Mapo-gu, Seoul (서울시 마포구 마포대로 112-4)
  • Hours: Every day: 11:00am ~ 11:00pm

Yeolchajib (열차집)

What to eat: Bindaetteok (Mung bean pacakes)

Opened in 1956, the main dish at this spot makes it stand out among the oldest restaurants in Seoul as it’s mung bean pancakes. Also a popular dish at Gwangjang Market, Yeolchajib is a popular makgeolli drinking spot with mung bean pancakes and other jeon, or Korean-style pancakes.

  • Address: 47 Jongno 7-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul (서울시 종로구 종로7길 47)
  • Hours: Monday – Friday: 11:00am ~ 10:30pm; Saturday: 2:00pm ~ 8:30pm; Sunday: 2:00pm ~ 8:00pm
Samgeori Meonjimak Sundaeguk (삼거리먼지막순대국)Samgeori Meonjimak Sundaeguk (삼거리먼지막순대국)

Samgeori Meonjimak Sundaeguk (삼거리먼지막순대국)

What to eat: Sundaeguk (Korean blood sausage soup)

Opened in 1957, Samgeori Meonjimak Sundaeguk serves up another popular hangover soup, but also just a husband-favorite, sundaeguk. This soup took a little time to grow on me, but as I was often out with a group of musicians after concerts in my younger days who would inevitably end up in a sundaeguk spot, I’m now quite the fan.

  • Address: 11 Siheung-daero 185-gil, Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul (서울시 영등포구 시흥대로 185길 11)
  • Hours: Wednesday – Monday: 8:00am ~ 8:00pm

Ojangdong Hamheung Naengmyeon (오장동함흥냉면)

What to eat: Hamheung naengmyeon

Serving up two cold Korean soups that are especially popular in the summer in Korea, this restaurant was opened in 1958. The two menu items include a spicy and not so spicy naengmyeon. Order mulnaengmyeon which features a chilled beef broth soup with buckwheat noodles, or order the bibimnaengmyeon, a spicy sauce instead of broth noodle dish.

To top it off, you can also order hongeo sashimi, or sliced raw skate, here. Not something you can have just anywhere, so eat it up! This spot is on our summer list this year.

  • Address: 105 Mareunnae-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul (서울 중구 마른내로 108)
  • Hours: Monday – Thursday: 10:30am ~ 8:00pm; Friday – Sunday: 10:30am ~ 8:30pm
Taejo Gamjaguk (태조감자국), gamjatang, Seongbuk-gu, Seoul, KoreaTaejo Gamjaguk (태조감자국), gamjatang, Seongbuk-gu, Seoul, Korea

Taejo Gamjaguk (태조감자국)

What to eat: Gamjaguk (Spicy pork bone soup)

Opened in 1958, if you haven’t had gamjatang yet, you’re missing out. This is a great Korea stew that is hearty and delicious and Taejo Gamjaguk has the perfect one to fill you up if you’re over in the northeastern side of Seoul.

  • Address: 43 Bomun-ro 34-gil, Seongbuk-gu, Seoul (서울시 성북구 보문로 34길 43)
  • Hours: Every day: 10:10am ~ 11:00pm (Break time: 3:00pm ~ 4:30pm)
Jeonju Bibimbap, Jeonju Hanok Village, Jeonju, Jeollabuk-do, KoreaJeonju Bibimbap, Jeonju Hanok Village, Jeonju, Jeollabuk-do, Korea

Jeonju Jungang Hoekwan (전주중앙회관)

What to eat: Rice and vegetables served in a hot stone bowl

If you don’t have the time to visit the Jeonju Hanok Village, but you want to try the food you should eat there, then make time to visit Jeonju Jungang Hoekwan which was opened in 1959 in Seoul. Bibimbap is pretty much a winner with any palate, so take your friends, order a lot, and share the numerous delicious dishes.

  • Address: 32-1 Sejong-daero 14-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul (서울시 중구 세종대로14길 32-1)
  • Hours: Every day: 8:30am ~ 10:30pm

Goryeo Samgyetang (고려삼계탕)

What to eat: Samgyetang (Ginseng chicken soup)

Opened in 1960, this restaurant serves up a delicious samgyetang soup, or ginseng chicken soup. They pride themselves on buying chickens that are about 49 days old, add ginseng, jujube, garlic, and sticky rice, along with traditional Korean herbs, for a delicious and healthy stew.

  • Address: 55-3 Seosomun-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul (서울시 중구 서소문동 55-3)

Hamheung Gombo Naengmyeon (함흥곰보냉면)

What to eat: Naengmyeon

Opened in 1960, this is another popular naengmyeon restaurant and also featuring Hamheung in the title may have you confused with the one I mentioned just a few restaurants up. Sitting near Jongmyo Shrine, if Gwangjang Market is too busy for you, try this delicious spot with mulnaengmyeon and bibimnaengmyeon as well as big delicious mandu.

  • Address: 109 Changgyeonggung-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul (서울시 종로구 창경궁로 109)
  • Hours: 10:30am ~ 8:00pm
Yeokjeon Hall (역전회관), Gongdeok, Seoul, KoreaYeokjeon Hall (역전회관), Gongdeok, Seoul, Korea

Yeokjeon Hall (역전회관)

First established in Seocheon in 1928, Yeokjeon Hall was originally called Hosang Restaurant based on the sign at their door. The sign didn’t make it clear when they moved to Seoul, but articles would suggest it was in the 1960s. It’s officially listed on the list of the oldest restaurants in Seoul as established in 1962.

There are set menus which include their well known specialty bulgogi option called crunchy bulgogi (바싹불고기) that is served along with a dish of steamed pork, a bowl of ox blood soup (선지국), and a plate of spicy grilled octopus (낙지볶음).

There is also an ala carte menu and other set meal options if you’re not a huge fan of ox blood soup like our crew when we visited. The bulgogi and beef tartare bibimbap (육회비빔밥) along with the side dishes were amazing though!

  • Address: 67-1 Yonggang-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul (서울시 마포구 용강동 67-1)
  • Hours: Tuesday – Friday: 11:30am ~ 9:30pm (Break time: 3:00pm ~ 5:00pm); Saturday – Sunday: 11:30am ~ 9:00pm (Break time: 3:00pm ~ 4:30pm)

Jinju Hoekwan (진주회관)

What to eat: Kongguksu (Cold Soymilk Noodle Soup)

Opened in 1962, Jinju Hoekwan is known for serving up one of the best bowls of kongguksu, a cold soy milk broth noodle soup, around. Another one of those delectable cold summer soups, it’s thick, filling, and becomes one of those summer dishes you look forward to finding. Find it here if you can.

  • Address: 26 Sejong-daero 11-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul (서울시 중구 세종대로11길 26)
  • Hours: Monday – Friday: 11:00am ~ 9:00pm; Saturday: 11:00am ~ 8:00pm

Daedo Sikdang (대도식당)

There are plenty of Korean bbq restaurants in Seoul, but not many have been open since 1964 like Daedo Sikdang. The only dish you can order is hanwoo sirloin (한우 등심), making it easy to know what’s for dinner. They serve it with a trademark cast iron skillet and kimchi radish fried rice.

  • Address: 431 Hongik-dong, Seongdong-gu, Seoul (시울시 성동구 홍익동 431)

Junglimjang Seolleongtang (중림장설렁탕)

Opened in 1972, I stopped into this hole in the wall when I visited Seosomun Shrine many years ago. I remember seeing that it opened in 1972 and was immediately comforted knowing I’d surely get a good bite, and I did. Simple, delicious, right where you need it to be.

  • Addrses: 459-1 Cheongpa-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul (서울 중구 청파로 459-1)
  • Hours: Monday – Friday: 9:00am ~ 9:00pm (Break time: 3:30pm ~ 5:00pm); Saturday – Sunday: 9:00am ~ 9:00pm
Honam Jip (호남집), Jongno-gu, Seoul, KoreaHonam Jip (호남집), Jongno-gu, Seoul, Korea

Honam Jip (호남집)

Something a bit different from the many soup restaurants that make up the old-school restaurant list. Honam Jip opened in 1974 and prepares a tender mackerel. Choose from six different kinds of fish with the mackerel and cutlassfish being the most popular.

  • Address: 5 Jongno 40ga-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul (서울 종로구 종로40가길 5)
  • Hours: Monday – Saturday: 12:00pm ~ 12:00am

There are clearly plenty of old-school delicious Korean restaurants to choose from in Seoul, Korea. Get ready to dig in and enjoy it!

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