Napoleon once wrote that an army marches on its stomach. I couldn’t agree more with this statement, as I too wholeheartedly believe in the power of food. I am a proud glutton who is not ashamed to lick his plate or stare hungrily at my friend’s unfinished meal after I have devoured mine. Simply put, I love to eat. Of course I could write about the typical Korean culinary delights (my keyboard is soaked now as I salivate just imagining a plate of extra spicy dalkgalbi), but today is all about the non-Korean options. Daejeon obviously does not have the vast selection of Seoul, but I have still managed to uncover a number of solid options.
1. Johnny’s Pub
Ordering a Korean-style pizza is sometimes like playing Russian roulette. Leave it to Koreans to ruin a pizza by injecting a massive dose of sweet potato filling into the crust, or generously covering it with sweet corn. Johnny’s Pub is an oasis of pizza normalcy in the Korean sea of sweetness. It won’t take long to decide what to order since they only have cheese and pepperoni pies, but what they lack in variety they make up for in quality. They keep it simple, resisting the inexplicable Korean urge to throw random ingredients onto a pizza. The decor is also refreshingly simple, with camping chairs at the tables and drawings painted on the walls. They serve your pizza with foil plates, which adds even more to the laid-back and casual atmosphere.
Tired of that “ice filtered” Hite or the always enchanting Cass? Johnny’s has a few solid brews on tap, including a decent IPA, which is not always easy to come by in Daejeon.
The only problem with Johnny’s is that they wrap their pizza boxes with a Gordian Knot-esque bow, so you will have to take a page out of Alexander the Great’s book and cut it with a knife if you want to actually open the box (sorry for the incredibly nerdy reference).
Johnny’s Pizza is near the City Hall subway stop, across the street from Burger King and next to the 7-Eleven.
2. House Grill
When I first arrived in Daejeon, the place I constantly heard about was the glory of House Grill. I must say this burger restaurant is certainly worth the hype, and by far boasts the best burgers in the city. The owner Brian Kim spent many years in the United States, so he actually knows what he is doing when it comes to Western-style hamburgers. He is not stingy with toppings either, as I typically find myself reaching for extra napkins after I finish the chili burger (ask for Level 3 spice if you want to put some hair on your chin). If you have a big-boy appetite like I do (I have been called a human garbage disposal on numerous occasions) then ask for a double burger. You may have to unhinge your jaw just to get your mouth around it, but I highly recommend it.
He recently introduced a Reuben sandwich (corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, Russian dressing) and I was admittedly quite skeptical. But surprisingly it was actually pretty delicious, so clearly Brian was taking notes on a proper Reuben while in the states as well.
House Grill has three locations:
Next to the Lotte department store near the Yongmun subway stop
In Dunsan-dong near the City Hall subway stop
In Gun-dong (sorry I can’t be more specific, I have never been there)
Still desperate for more foreign food suggestions? Don’t worry, because I’ll be back next week with another hard-hitting, heart-pounding, knee-weakening blog about the wonders of Daejeon foreign food!
Patrick Sheridan grew up in the quiet suburbs outside of Boston but always knew he wanted to explore the world. Studying abroad in Denmark while attending Elon University did not satisfy this desire, so after graduating in 2012 he decided to join Chungdahm Learning and teach English in South Korea. He loves wandering through the various neighborhoods of his city Daejeon, sampling random back-alley restaurants and attempting to communicate with the locals in his horribly broken Korean. He embraces everything Korean and looks forward to seeing everything South Korea has to offer.