With the Opening Ceremonies slated for Friday in Pyeongchang, South Korea, the XXIII Olympic Winter Games could be the coldest on record. But this mountain region two hours northeast of Seoul offers plenty of food and drink to keep you warm. Whether you want something luxe or cozy, Western or traditional, you’ll find a diversity of restaurants, cafés and bars to shield you from the Siberian winds.
The OXY Lounge at the InterContinental Alpensia Pyeongchang Resort is a plush, spacious place to enjoy a classic cocktail or glass of Old World wine—served with a complimentary cookie—in front of a roaring fireplace. The hotel’s restaurant, Flavours, also serves high-end Italian and American cuisine. For a more raucous evening, toss back soju cocktails, dance to K-Pop or play pool at Warehouse Club & Bar. The region is also home to, arguably, the best brewery in South Korea, Budnamu Brewery, which serves Korean IPA and a pine-infused saison.
Karaoke, or noraebang, is a huge part of the nightlife throughout South Korea. Looking to belt out some tunes? Wander around the Jinbu-myeon neighborhood, where karaoke bars line the streets. Take your pick, and sing your heart out.
Beef and buckwheat are the two regional specialties here. The former, known as hanwoo, is on par with Japanese wagyu. Try it at Korean barbecue joints Wow Daegwallyeong Hanwoo Jinbu and Darae Hanwoo. American-style burgers are popular throughout South Korea, and the flavor combinations you’ll find are just different enough to keep things interesting. Bikini Burger and Café Paul and Mary are favorites among American expats in the area.
Buckwheat is where things get exciting. Dishes like buckwheat jelly soups and pancakes will warm you throughout. The best place to try these and other local specialties, like thistle-seasoned rice and fish balls, is Olympic Market. It’s been around since 1955 and is one of the more traditional, affordable places to eat in town.
In between all these meals and drinks, check out the prominent local coffee culture. Gangneung Coffee Street, near the coast, is a haven for local art and espresso drinks. Look at street level and above, and don’t shy away from the pastries. Closer to the Olympic Stadium is Café 7Hundred, where beans are roasted onsite and there are snacks and sandwiches to fuel you through the day.
With the wondrous fare and stunning scenery that spans from mountains to coastline, the Winter Olympics aren’t the only reason to visit Pyeongchang. Relax and enjoy. You won’t even notice the cold.