Like any decent “date course” found on the peninsula, the scenic roads around this area are filled with tourist attractions, parks and of course, restaurants. The proximity to Gwangju ensures steady business for the local eateries, especially during the summer months. We’re trying our best to document some of the restaurants (there are loads) that we’ve either enjoyed, or are popular with the locals. The list below is organized by distance from the house. Those at the top are just a few minutes walk from the front gate, while those towards the bottom are upwards of a 20 minute drive (or an hour bike ride).
I don’t have a car and can’t/won’t ride a bike:
13. 소호 Resto/Cafe
18. 엄마손 맛집
I have a car or am willing to ride a bike short distances:
14. 담양애 꽃*
16. 내 마음의 풍차
I have a car or really enjoy biking:
12. 팔도강산 보리밥
17. 산수옥 모밀
19. Vietnam Restaurant and Mart
21. 달맞이 흑두부
1. 바람소리 (UPDATE: This is no longer a ddeok-galbi restaurant)
Distance: Walk out the front gate. Turn right. Walk about five minutes up the hill.
This place has changed and now serves pizza, pasta and donkatsu. All dishes around 15,000. Good if you have kids or a craving for western food, but so many better options around!
2. 채식뷔페 (Vegetarian, buffet, clean, cheap, popular)
Distance: Walk out the front gate. Turn left. Walk for five minutes until you see the giant yellow sign.
If you’re a vegetarian, you probably already know this spot. Hell, you might know it even if you’re not a vegetarian because it’s POPULAR. This place gets packed. It’s easy to see why considering its 10,000won (?) for as much vegetarian food as you can stuff into your face. You’ll probably stare at the fake meats for a solid 10 minutes in disbelief that they’re actually vegetarian (like I did), but I assure you this place is the real deal. No GMO’s either so enjoy a guilt free dinner after exploring the neighborhood.
3. 벼슬집* (All things chicken, convenient, friendly, big groups)
Distance: Just walk back towards the main road and you’ll see this restaurant on the corner, where the entrance to the village is. Can’t miss that bright orange roof!
Doesn’t get more convenient than a five minute walk down the road. This place recently changed ownership, remodeled a bit and tweaked the menu. It’s still chicken focused, but now serving a tasty Korean style of BBQ chicken and spicy vegetable Dak-Galbi. Large groups are no problem and the service is friendly. More information and photos can be found here.
4. 황가네* (Cheap, fast, homemade, popular, semi-vegetarian, kimche jiggae)
Distance: 1km. Walk about five minutes past the entrance to Eco-Park. It’s on the right.
This place rules. It’s off the beaten path, no frills, fresh, cheap Korean food. They do have a pretty extensive menu, but the star of the show and the only thing I’ve ever eaten here is the kimche jiggae. The kimche they use is amazing of course, and the double portion of pork is a plus, but honestly I think it’s the tofu that makes it better than others. The tofu is made with green tea and is made in-house. It can be ordered on its own for 5,000won. The jiggae is 6,000won. More photos and information can be found here.
13. 소호 Resto/Cafe (UPDATE: This is more of a cafe now with limited menu)
Distance: A five minute walk down the street towards Eco-Park.
In a country where businesses come and go, this place has stood the test of time. The recent renovations ensure it’ll be here for another couple of decades. It’s a classic Korean cafe, serving pizza and pasta with wine and beer, and of course coffee. It certainly isn’t cheap, but it’s worth it to pay a bit extra for that gorgeous landscaping and outside seating in the riverside garden. More photos and information can be found here.
18. 엄마손 맛집 (cheap, filling, pajeon/makoli, friendly)
Distance: 1km (Eco-Park Entrance)
This little ‘mom and pop’ shop is run by the most adorable (and friendly!) Korean couple. The flavors are strong and the prices affordable. The pajeon is simply amazing and tastes even better after an afternoon of exploring the Eco-Park. More photos and information can be found here.
22. 지실리애 Hand-Made Tea (traditional countryside tea house)
Distance: 5 minute walk
This space recently changed hands and the new owners have done a great job of breathing new life into the space. The traditional tea house setting is filled with plants, trinkets, and plenty of eye candy, but all of it tasteful and done with a nod towards simple countryside living. Great spot to take a break during an afternoon of exploring the area. More info and photos can be found here.
5. 두번째서랍 (UPDATE: Closed! )
Distance: A few kilometers down 887 towards Gwangju. It’s a green building on the right.
6. 수려재 (Pricey, clean, upscale, popular, fusion)
Distance: A few kilometers down 887 towards Gwangju. It’s on your right. You can’t miss the giant fountain in front. Right next to 두번재서랍.
If 바람소리 is the king of all Damyang fusion restaurants, this place is the queen. It’s a similar concept with courses ending with the Damyang specialty of dduk galbi (떡갈비) and it’s equally as nice, comfortable and clean. Personally I think these places are over priced, but like all the other fusion restaurants similar to this in the area, it’s continually packed. There’s another massive one across the street called 호반, which has better views, but in my opinion, worse food. You be the judge.
7. 대가* (Unique, cheap, popular, friendly service, grilled fish/dduk galbi)
Distance: 3km. A few kilometers down 887 towards Gwangju.
Skip the fusion restaurants and head straight to Daega. This place has been around for decades and serves amazing grilled fish, delicious side dishes (the kimches are outstanding) and the best dduk galbi in the area. The atmosphere alone is impressive with high ceilings, giant wood carvings and live fish swimming around the water-ways carved into the floor. At roughly 10,000won per person you won’t find a better deal in this area. More photos and information can be found here.
8. 창평 국밥 (Cheap, fast, popular, guk bap)
Distance: 6km kilometers down 887 towards Gwangju. Take a right at the Goseo (고서) intersection, which is the first traffic light you come to (6km from the house). The restaurant is on the right about 20 meters from the intersection.
Like every other area of Korea, Champyeong, a neighboring district, has a famous dish. It’s guk bap (국밥). Judging by both the food and the crowds at this place, I can confidently say this is the best around. If you like the nasty bits and have 6,000won to spare, give this place a try. Don’t be fooled by the dilapidated exterior of the restaurant; that just ensures you’re at the right place. The 고서국밥 and the 순대국밥 are by far the most popular. More information can be found here.
14. 담양애 꽃* (clean, local specialty, well-priced)
Another well-known Damyang favorite serving affordable ddeokgalbi. The banchan is plentiful, the restaurant is clean and modern, and the service is quick. There isn’t much not to like about this place. More info and photos can be found here.
16. 내 마음의 풍차 (soba noodles, don katsu, handmade food, antique interior)
This place has been recently remodeled and reopened by the current owners. It’s a cool space occupying a former mill used by local farmers to make flower from wheat and rice. They’ve kept a lot of the old machinery intact! The noodles and pork cutlet are both handmade and make a tasty lunch. More info and photos can be found here.
The “noodle spot”
20. 들플부빔* (Bibimbap, cheap, fresh, homemade, popular)
Distance: 3.5 km
Bibimbap. The do one thing and they do it well. It’s vegetarian friendly, but there are beef options as well…cooked or uncooked. If you’re really feeling brave try the 청국장공 or the 멍개. I’ve had them all and choosing a favorite would be tough. More photos and information can be found here.
9. 국수거리 (cheap, fun, market, popular, outdoors, pajeon)
The kalguksu street runs along the river and each restaurant serves pretty much the same thing: noodles. The outdoor seating makes it a fun place to hangout before exploring the nearby tourist attractions. I’m not going to hype the kalguksu because I’ve honestly had much better elsewhere, however the jeon (전) here is outstanding. Enjoy a bamboo vessel of the local alcohol to compliment your jeon.
10. 승일식당 (Efficient, huge portions, famous, popular, Damyang galbi)
Sutbul galbi (숫불갈비) is the other local specialty in Damyang and this is one of the original galbi restaurants. The meat is prepared in back (the open air kitchen in this place is impressive) and comes out ready to eat. This place is popular and they’re efficient with both their seating and their service. You’ll have a giant plate of meat placed in front of you almost instantly and you’ll be rolled out minutes later. Don’t bother with this place unless you’re hungry.
Famous Damyang BBQ
11. 쌍교숯불갈비* (famous, popular, Damyang galbi)
This is “the other” famous Damyang galbi joint. It’s honestly famous beyond compare. The parking lot is constantly packed and more often than not there’s a 40+ minute wait to be seated (and this place ain’t small). The side dishes are much better than the rival Seung Il, however I’d be hard pressed to choose a favorite in terms of BBQ’d meat. I frequent this place more often simply because it’s closer to the house. More information and pictures can be found here.
12. 팔도강산 보리밥 (Healthy, filling, vegetarian, hikers’ food, barely rice)
Ok, so this place isn’t in Damyang and it’s not even close to the house. I include it, however, because it’s a popular spot to eat pre/post your hiking adventure in Mudeung National Park. Additionally, its a crazy scenic drive through the park from the house and an even better bike ride. The food comes out fast, couples well with makoli and is always a crowd pleaser. If you’ve never had boribap (보리밥) before, it’s basically a do-it-yourself bibimbap. For 7,000won you really can’t go wrong.
15. 담주브로이* (brewery, bamboo beer, bamboo sausage, rooftop patio)
It’s mind-blowing that this place isn’t more popular. A functioning brewery with bamboo beer and bamboo sausages seems like just the right amount of kitsch for a place like Damyang. And a roof top patio for summer beers! More info and photos can be found here.
17. 산수옥모밀 (cheap, filling, noodles, lunch, fast)
Distance: ~10km. Opposite the Duam-Dong Home Plus
The menu at this place is pretty extensive, and it all looks good, but after 20+ visits I’ve never strayed from the noodles and mandu. It’s packed during mealtimes, but the kitchen and staff are ultra efficient. Definitely worth a visit before or after shopping at Home Plus across the street. More info and photos can be found here.
Noodles and Mandu
19. Vietnam Restaurant and Mart (cheap, authentic, filling, non-Korean food)
The local Vietnamese of Damyang (yes, that’s right) got together and opened a no-frills restaurant and mart serving piping hot bowls of Pho and selling all the necessary ingredients to make your own Vietnamese treats at home. Ask nicely and they’ll even sell you a bag of cilantro from their private stash. This place is way better than the Korean-fusion Vietnamese you’ll get downtown. More info and photos can be found here.
21. 달맞이 흑두부 (Tofu, Vegetarian, Traditional decor)
This place is a bit off the beaten path, but it’s a well traveled cycling route so thought I’d include at least one recommendation in the area. Skip all the fake “Damyang Galbi” imitation restaurants and head straight to this place for lunch instead. It’s fresh and tasty and there’s a tree IN the restaurant!