The Best Korean BBQ In Chicago

Where to find the best Korean BBQ in Chicago.
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After experiencing a massive growth in its Korean population from the 1970s to the early 2000s, as of 2019, Chicago has one of the largest Korean populations in America. It’s the reason a stretch of Albany Park is called “Seoul Drive”, and also why we have great Korean BBQ places all across the city. Smoky grilled meats, colorful plates of banchan, family-style eating, washing it down with a cold beer or soju—KBBQ is always a good time, whether you're enjoying it on a date or with a rambunctious group of friends at 11pm. 

From cozy, decades-old places that test your grilling skills to upscale restaurants where everything is cooked for you, here’s our list of the best spots for Korean BBQ in Chicago.

Not every spot on this list has tabletop grills, so we’ve separated the restaurants accordingly.



North Center

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Seeing the block-long line of people outside Cho Sun Ok in North Center can initially trigger memories of being stuck at the DMV. But luckily, waiting in line for this BYOB spot that’s been around since 1982 will be exponentially more rewarding than getting a replacement license and traumatizing photo. The meat here is cooked in a hot stone bowl on top of gas burners. Some tables have them built-in and others have portable ones, but regardless of your setup, you’re going to have a delicious meal. Sides like chewy japchae or haemul pajeon are great, but focus on the meat, particularly the thinly sliced brisket and the bulgogi bathed in a sweet soy marinade. Leave some room—at the end of your meal the staff mixes your leftover kimchi, bean sprouts, and some rice to make crispy kimchi bokkeumbap as a complimentary “dessert.”

Banchan is a crucial part of the Korean BBQ experience, and no one does banchan better than San Soo Gab San. The moment you sit down at this Lincoln Square institution, your table is immediately overtaken by side dishes that make you feel like free table bread isn’t trying hard enough. From kimchi, to broccoli muchin, to myeolchi bokkeum, there are over 25 things to snack on between grilled meat. And the seasoned meats are the cuts you should order—definitely get the thinly sliced bulgogi and their sweet and savory wang kalbi which get an added smoky flavor from the charcoal grill. The space is casual and spacious, so it’s perfect for unwinding after a busy week with some friends to not only help you finish the meat, but also tackle the ocean of banchan.



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When Perilla first opened in the West Loop, not every table had a grill. That’s changed, which is good since the BBQ at this upscale Korean restaurant is what you should be focusing on. This is one of the pricer options on the guide—galbi is $32 and they have filet mignon and A5 wagyu, plus the banchan (which is delicious) is a la carte. As far as Korean BBQ goes, this place is pretty sedate. You’ll be grilling your own meat to a quiet indie rock playlist, surrounded by couples on dates silently grilling away and people that clearly just came from the office. And if you’re here with a group (and/or a corporate card) get the $105 per person tasting menu that comes with a bunch of stuff, including the rice cake royale, a delicious plate of stir-fried tteokbokki covered in vegetables and a savory sauce.

photo credit: Sandy Noto



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Welcome to the opposite of Perilla. Daebak is a loud, busy Korean barbecue spot in Chinatown that has an industrial atmosphere and K-pop music videos projected all over the walls. The attentive servers are very good about turning your meat over the gas grill (they do most of the cooking) and refilling your banchan—and refills are very important, because everything is fantastic. Don’t leave without ordering a kimchi pancake.

Woo Chon might be one of the smaller restaurants on this list, but the combination of charcoal grills, great service, and high-quality meat, makes this West Ridge spot a must-visit. There’s no need to worry about accidentally burning your eyebrows off because the friendly staff is constantly making sure that you’re cooking everything properly. When cooked perfectly, not only are the marinated meats delicious, but the non-seasoned cuts like samyeopsal and thinly sliced brisket are full of meaty flavor as well. When dipped in ssamjang and placed in a radish wrap, you have the perfect sweet, salty, spicy, and refreshing bite. Make sure to also order a bowl of their naengmyeon. The chilled tart broth with chewy buckwheat noodles is some of the city’s best, and is the ideal intermission before resuming the meat feast.

From gas burners to stone pits full of hot coals, Gogi in West Ridge is fully equipped with everything needed for a fantastic grilling experience. In one sitting, you could start with sweet galbi grilled over charcoal, followed by fatty samgyeopsal cooked on a hot plate with a gas burner, and then kimchi bokkeumbap crisped on top of that same plate to absorb the residual juices. The different cooking methods add another level of nuance to the dishes’ flavor, and though you can take care of everything yourself, the attentive staff is always on hand to help. We recommend placing a reservation or showing up early to beat the evening rush when it’s packed with dates, small groups looking for a late-night meal, and birthday parties pregaming before attempting all of the key changes in Beyonce’s “Love on Top” at U-Star Karaoke next door.

Do Eat has solved the two-person Korean BBQ conundrum. This little spot in Bridgeport is one of the only Korean BBQ restaurants where you can try a bunch of meats without an entire butcher’s case on your table. It’s also quite affordable. The kalbi-for-two includes short rib, bulgogi, pork belly, shrimp, chicken, rice, and veggies for $38. Each table has a charcoal grill and a hood (so the small space doesn’t get super smoky) and the friendly servers will help your meal along without hovering. They don’t have it posted online, but if you wanted to reserve a grill instead of walking in, you can call the restaurant to make reservations.

“AYCE KBBQ” might be the best combination of letters we’ve ever seen, and it’s what makes Wicker Park’s Iron Age worth visiting. Though the cuts of meat may not be the best on this list, $29 for unlimited KBBQ is a fantastic deal, especially when paired with a packed dining room and pulsating K-Pop soundtrack. There are plenty of meat and seafood options, but some of our favorites are the spicy chicken, unmarinated pork belly, and Iron Age steak which comes with a tangy soy marinade. We also like to get some spicy rice cakes and japchae involved, but don’t get overly ambitious since Iron Age charges for leftovers.

This big, bright AYCE fusion spot in Chinatown specializes in Dongbei-style BBQ. It’s similar to Korean, but the marinade doesn’t include doenjang, so it’s a little lighter. Plus, Jiang Niu’s long menu also has options to throw on the gas grill—like enoki mushrooms, sweet potato, lettuces, and pineapple to name a few. Everything comes with suggested cook times, so you don’t have to worry about the structural integrity of your cabbage. This place is also a little silly: you’ll find robot servers, and ridiculous add-ons like a ferris wheel full of ingredients, and a raw meat cake which sounds terrifying but we promise is kind of cute.


Perfectly marinated meat, rice cake skewers covered in sweet and spicy gochujang, and tasty banchan are the reasons we come to Soju. This casual West Loop spot is open all day, and has a BBQ menu that includes all the hits: short rib, bulgogi, kalbi, fire chicken, pork belly, and brisket. This spot is also only a few blocks from the United Center, and one of the only nearby options that actually has great food. It’s also a fun place. They have an energetic hip-hop playlist and a full bar with beer and soju.

If you ever spent time hanging out in a smoky basement with black-light posters during high school, then Dancen in Lincoln Square will make you nostalgic. But here, the obscuring haze is generated by the excellent Korean food being grilled at the bar, rather than your friend who was just kicked off the swim team—and the black-light posters advertise cocktails and the fire chicken. You’ll want to work your way through the long menu, starting with the aforementioned fire chicken. Chunks of marinated chicken are grilled until the marinade becomes charred and caramelized. It’s delicious and spicy, and it comes with a Thousand Island-dressed cabbage slaw to help balance out the heat. It’s perfect for a solo meal at the counter, where you can watch the grill with the intensity of your ex-swim team friend staring at a lava lamp.

Yes, this 40-year-old Korean institution in Albany Park is famous for its wonderful ginseng chicken. But Ssayl also has some great BBQ dishes on their menu. Like tender galbi, spicy pork bulgogi, and heavily marinated beef bulgogi that’s sitting in a sweet sauce with carrots and onions. It all comes with a delightful spread of banchan, which your friendly server is always quick to replenish in case you run low on macaroni salad or kimchi. The casual space is really relaxing, and filled with people quietly eating to the sounds of soft instrumental music. So come here instead of booking that hour-long session in a  float tank.

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