Where to eat in Gwangju, 11 Family Faves
If you are visiting Gwangju and looking for traditional Korean food, this is not the list for you. We cook a lot of Korean food at home or when we get food delivered. So, when we go out, it’s usually because we’re craving something a bit different. Here, I’m listing some of our family favourites! Most are downtown or in Nam-gu, because that’s where we live. I’d love to hear recommendations in other areas. Let us know in the comments! In no particular order…
The kiddos are young and adaptable enough that they rarely mention missing Australia. What they do miss is Grandma and Grandpa, babycinos, and fish and chips! When we found First Alleyway, we were all delighted. We go for the fish and chips, but the fish sandwich and falafel burger are also great. I want to try more of their menu because it all looks good. But we just can’t go past the fish and chips! They also have board games to keep little (or big) people busy while you wait for the food.
광주광역시 동구 충장로안길 5-4, Dong-gu, Gwangju
Vietnamese at Namgwangju Market
I’ve already posted about the tiny Vietnamese spot in Namgwangju market. A very casual place with only a couple of tables, very tasty Pho, and deliciously crispy spring rolls.
Excellent, authentic Nepalese and Indian curries! They have great weekday set lunch menus too. I can’t get enough of this place! I’m always too eager to dig in that I’ve never actually taken a photo. Unfortunately, the kids aren’t curry fans – yet – but garlic naan and plain rice counts as a meal, right?
6-44 Seoseok-ro 7beon-gil, Bullo-dong, Dong-gu, Gwangju
For Indian curries, go to First Nepal, but if you want some very unique curries, try Gentle Curry in Yangnim-dong. The curries are smooth and creamy, and the extra toppings – juicy steak or chicken tenders – are a luxurious addition. We’ve tried everything on the menu here, and it is ALL good!
59 Baekseo-ro, Yangnim-dong, Nam-gu, Gwangju
The hit here is definitely the curry set. Three types of curries in little rice bowls and unlimited curry refills! Really! They’ll top up your little rice bowls as much as you want. The prawn one is my fave, but they’re all good. They also have fresh salmon, udon salad bowls with loads of avocado that are an especially nice addition on a hot day, and the kids approve. But get the three curries! If you want to go for lunch, be there early. It’s a small space, and it’s popular. They have a few other locations around Gwangju and even in Seoul!
Gwangju, Nam-gu, Cheonbyeonjwa-ro, 468
We’d walked past this place countless times before we decided to try it. The menu looked so random – is the food Korean? Japanese? Italian? Whatever it is, it’s good! The seafood pasta dish, possibly more like stew, was especially yummy. It was all too spicy for our little ones at the time, so they mostly ate bread. Although, they’re getting better with the spice now that they’re being served kimchi every day at school and kinder, so we might have to give it another go.
10 Jejung-ro 46beon-gil, Yangnim-dong, Nam-gu, Gwangju
Sujata is the place to stop after hiking Mudeungsan, for sure! A Buddhist, vegetarian buffet for only 7,000won. Fresh salads and make-your-own bibimbap. It’s an enormous, usually busy and noisy, cafeteria-type hall with long communal tables. Ignore the boisterous crowd, though, and enjoy the most enormous salad bar you’ll probably ever see!
Gwangju, Dong-gu, Ullim-dong, 468-3
Ciao & Mario Chef
Ciao and Mario Chef are sister restaurants, right next door to each other and with the same owners. Mario Chef has a more cozy, romantic feel and a more extensive menu, including thick crust pizza. On our first visit, the chef brought the kids out little cups of panna cotta to keep them happy while we ordered – either he has kids, or ours were annoying him with their whining, ‘I’m hungry.” Hopefully, the former.
Ciao is a bit more casual, and they have a decent lunch set that Appa and Mummy enjoyed on a cheeky lunch date while the kids were in Kinder and daycare. 28,000won for the house salad and a choice of two dishes from the pizza and risotto section. We ate ‘squid ink risotto’ and ‘chorizo alio olio spaghetti.’ The pasta is hand-made, and it was all perfect!
40-1 Jejung-ro, Yangnim-dong, Nam-gu, Gwangju
This one is your basic, decent pizza-pasta place. Their wood oven pizza is fantastic! You can order from their main menu or from Hustle, the takeaway pizza place next door. Hustle’s pizzas are better for my tastes. The Margherita is almost as good as I’ve had in Italy! Testa is also a winner for us because of the spacious, comfy corner table by the window so the kids can people-watch while we wait.
93-11 Yangnim-dong, Nam-gu, Gwangju
This one is a bit off the beaten track, in a little residential back street in Baegun-dong. I happened to walk past it one of my random wandering strolls and thought we should try it someday. I’m so glad we did because the brunch menu is exactly what I’d been craving for a long while. I’m sure the owner must have been to Melbourne because it could easily have been a menu straight out of a Brunswick cafe. If any other Aussie-Gwanjuites happen to read this – get to Cafe Ahead this weekend! Eggs Benedict, Shakshuka, perfectly crisply-crumbly almond croissants, decent coffee. I admit I wouldn’t usually have a tomato, sausage, and chips with my eggs benedict, but, all the same, it hit the spot.
Also, decent coffee and comfy couches to sprawl out on. The owner even brought over frothed milk for the kids. They were so excited to have babycinos– or as close to one as they’ve had outside of Australia.
7 Jindari-ro 52beon-gil, Baegun-dong, Nam-gu, Gwangju
Not a restaurant, but for drinks, I would always choose Nirvana! Caleb, the owner, is a fellow ex-pat and super friendly and accommodating. He has drinks specials, but I’m sure he’d mix you up pretty much anything! It’s a really cozy, artsy space to relax with friends – and meet new ones. They have regular live music, movie nights, and all sorts of fun entertainment! I wish I could go there more often, but, you know, kids (and Covid) mean I don’t get out much. Follow them on Facebook or Instagram for events and specials.