One of the things I found myself wondering about when I moved to Korea to teach English is what the holidays would be like. Granted holidays can range from the big boys like Christmas, to the ones we celebrate just for the excuse to party (hump day anyone?). Lucky for me and you, Koreans LOVE to party, so most holidays here are celebrated and always a fun time. This past weekend we ventured into Seoul, Gangnam to be exact, for Tomatillo’s Annual Cinco de Mayo party. It was definitely one of my favorite days in Korea and I know that for as long as I stay here, this is where I’ll celebrate Mexican independence.
To get to Tomatillo’s we took the #9201 bus from Incheon and got off at the Gangnam stop in Seoul. Of course, this works for us Incheonians only, so most of you will want to grab Seoul Subway line 2 (green) and get off at Yeoksam. From here you take exit 2, the Gangnam Finance Center will be on your left on the same side of the street. Tomatillo’s is located here in the basement and they have a full menu of delicious Mexican food with some SoCal loving mixed in that you should definitely try out if you’re a Mexican fan.
The party however was on the 2nd floor right outside in the back of the building. Here Tomatillo’s had set up some tents with a ton of delicious food for wonderfully cheap: tacos, quesadillas, nachos, etc. It was defintely a Mexican lover’s dream. Everything was around 4,000-5,000W and the lines weren’t bad at all. Here you could also buy your beer, margaritas, and of course your tequila shots (ay dios mio…). Once you had your food you could take a seat at the tables set up both in the shade or in the sun or just grab a spot on the ground and enjoy your food.
In the middle of all of this was the live music. They had some great (and eclectic) bands playing a bunch of different music for your listening and viewing pleasure creating a pretty groovy atmosphere. The weather was amazing so nice we just took a seat on the ground in the sun and we literally just sat there for hours sipping our margaritas, eating our tacos, listening to music, and talking. While a large number of the people in attendance were English teachers and other expats, there were a lot of Korean’s too. Old people, young people, adorable little babies, dogs, everyone was there for a good time.
At some point the emcee alerted us that the burrito and jalapeno eating contests were about to begin, this was definitely the highlight of my my day. About 10 contestants lined up first for the burrito-eating contest (who could mow down the fastest) and the victor took home a sweet 50,000W gift certificate and the runner up went home with one for 30,000W, not too shabby. After that was the jalapeno eating contest which was looking for someone who could eat 20 jalapenos in the shortest amount of time. I was especially excited for this one because of my good friend Lauren whose mouth has never met a jalapeno it didn’t like. My girl KILLED it. She knocked out all of the other contenders to the point where it wasn’t even a contest any more and took home both 1st and 2nd place. I’ve never been so proud in my life.
After all this it was time for some face painting and then some mariachi music and dancing. Now I know Tomatillo’s had some last minute issues with scheduling because there was supposed to be salsa dancing as well but these things happen. All in all it was a solid day in the sun with good food, good drinks, good people, and good music. I’m not sure there’s anything else you could want. If you get the chance to celebrate Cinco de Mayo while you’re here and you’re a fan of Mexican food and good times definitely check out Tomatillo’s party. And even if you can’t make it to the party you should definitely stop into the restaurant some time and have some dinner because the food is excellent for when you’re really craving Mexican!
I’m a little obsessed with Mexican and I made it my mission to find as many Mexican restaurants as possible the minute I got to Korea. Here are my top 5 Mexican joints for when you have a hankering.
Vato’s in Itaewon
Julio’s in Hongdae (hard to find, a bit off the beaten path, but if you stumble upon it definitely give it a try!)
On the Border (I know, I know)
Tomatillo’s (various locations)
Dos Tacos (various locations
A recent graduate of University of Massachusetts Amherst, Kara Jameson has always loved traveling and being able to discover new and exciting things everyday. After living abroad in Greece, Kara decided it was time for her next adventure, this time even further from home. After being introduced to Aclipse, she knew exactly how she wanted to spend her post-graduate days before going back to school. Kara now lives in Incheon working for the Yeonsu branch of Chungdahm. The months have flown by and every day is another opportunity to learn something new about this vibrant and amazing culture! To learn more check out her blog on the Ning page!