Location(s):  Itaewon

Food Category:  Mexican

Price Range:  $$

Seating:  Normal

Atmosphere:  Casual

Website: https://elpino323.modoo.at/

Number: 070-8987-6248

The

Quick Facts:

El Pino 323

The El Pino 323 Price Range:

12,500won - 27,000won Per Meal

The El Pino 323 Story:

March 18, 2019

El Pino 323 has been one of the hottest Mexican restaurants in Korea.  The owner has been published in many articles and YouTube videos (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-dtJ3evZgQ8).  The owner is an Los Angeles native, from LA.  Reading from article and watching videos, the owner named Kim Dong Hwa.  He was adoptee and had learned how to cook delicious Mexican food from his Mexican grandma.  He was quoted as saying “I want to be remembered as the best authentic Mexican place there is.”

Most of my friends have visited El Pino when their hype was at its infancy.  They all raved about how legit the food was and how This or That was the best on the menu.  Everything was always positive.  However, slowly I heard stories about how the prices kept going up.  Also they have a very strict rule on not being able to modify any food.  I had a friend’s coworker denied being able to eat a menu item because of an allergy she had... which I thought was a little excessive.  Hearing both good and bad... I went with an open mind and I finally got to visit El Pino 323.

El Pino 323 is located in Itaewon near Noksapyeong Station.  They are located on the second floor.  The restaurant a cozy restaurant with seats on both sides of the restaurant and a bar in the middle.  I had gone with a friend on a Saturday night and it was packed.  We originally planned on waiting to sit at a table, but the wait was getting too long so we needed up sitting at the terrace.

El Pino had a bunch of cool art work and signs on their walls.  They had newspaper and magazine clippings of articles of the owner’s. They also had  cool logos of their name.  The blue neon light behind the bar was probably my favorite sign.  They also had a wall of famous people who had enjoyed their restaurant.

After getting recommendations from friends we decided to order a little bit of everything.  For the appetizers we started with the Guacamole and Fresh Chips.  For the main we wanted to try one of each main protein so we got the Carne Asada Tacos, Carnitas Tacos, and Chicken Enchiladas with Salsa Verde!

The Food Ordered At El Pino 323:

Guacamole and Fresh Chips

Price:  10,000won 

Taste:  This guacamole was so fresh.  It had delicious avocado, tomatoes, onions, and other spices mixed.   The taste was refreshing and clean.   However, the “fresh chips” were a huge downer.  It wasn’t hot nor seasoned well.  The guacamole was bomb, but with the chips being sub-par I don’t know if the 10,000won price tag is worth it.

Chicken Enchiladas with Salsa Verde 

Price:  17,500won 

Taste:  This dish visually was beautiful, however the enchiladas was only good not great.  I ordered this dish because it was recommended to me but it fell below my expectations.  Don’t get me wrong it’s not a bad dish, but I didn’t taste the chicken.  The enchilada was tasty... but it had 80% cheese and very little shredded chicken.  The rice and beans by themselves were just ok... but when I mix it with the salsa verde it saved the rice and bean's flavor and elevated it.

Carne Asada Tacos

Price:  14,800won

Taste:  These tacos were fire.  They have the best Carne Asada meat I’ve had in Korea.  If you are going to order one dish... for me this is it.  The tortilla was soft and tasty and the meat was sublime.  It was marinated and cooked perfectly.  Right when I took my first bite I knew this was going to be a flavor explosion.  At 14,800won or around 5,000won per taco that could be a hefty price tag... but this dish was worth it.

Carnitas Tacos

Price:  12,500won

Taste:  Just like the Carne Asada Tacos the carnitas tacos were amazing.  The pork was soft, tender, and juicy.  They gave you a mountain of carnitas on each tortilla.  It was delicious and each bite was an amazing experience.

Bottom Line

Bottom line, the tacos at this place is bomb.  They might be hella pricy but I think the tacos are worth the price tag.  I was told that their tortas are just as good so I need to try it next time.  I will definitely be coming here to grub again!

The Rating At El Pino 323:

The Hours, Website, & Phone Number At El Pino 323:

SUNDAY: 11:30AM - 10:00PM

MONDAY: Closed

TUESDAY: 5PM - 10:00PM

WEDNESDAY: 11:30AM - 3PM, 5PM - 10:00PM

THURSDAY: 11:30AM - 3PM, 5PM - 10:00PM

FRIDAY: 11:30AM - 10:00PM

SATURDAY: 11:30AM - 10:00PM

 

https://elpino323.modoo.at/

Phone Number: 070-8987-6248

The Location & Directions To El Pino 323:

220, Noksapyeong-daero, Yongsan-gu

Directions  

The easiest way to get to El Pino 323 is get out Noksapyeong Station exit 2.  Walk down for 4 minutes until you see an underground crosswalk.  Cross the street, then go back upwards for 2 minutes and you will see El Pino 323 on your left on the 2nd floor.  

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