The DC area’s Korean barbecue scene has expanded greatly in recent years. It’s no longer all pork belly and beef ribs, K-Pop, and soju (though there’s plenty of that too). Now, you can also find dry-aging programs, chic upscale dining rooms, and sophisticated cocktail and wine lists. Here are some of our favorite spots, new and old, to gather a group around a tabletop grill.
14215 Centreville Square, Centreville
This luxe entrant to the scene prides itself on its dry- and wet-aging program. (You can glimpse rows of ribeyes under the neon glow of a “#aging” sign at the entrance.) Instead of K-Pop, jazzy piano tunes play in the background. And beyond just beer and soju, Cabernet Sauvignons and Malbecs are on offer. Beef and pork “guides” offer an assortment of premium meats, which are accompanied by housemade white and mustard leaf kimchis. Don’t miss the Korean-style beef tartare with slivers of pear and uni, as well as the sea urchin and cod roe rice showered in seasoned seaweed.
7220 Columbia Pike, Annandale; 13818 Braddock Rd., Centreville; 12015 Rockville Pike, Rockville; 10045 Baltimore National Pike, Ellicott City
The OG of the Korean barbecue scene now has four locations across Virginia and Maryland, plus two in Texas. These bustling, industrial-edged, no-frills dining rooms offers a nice variety of the usual pork and beef cuts, plus options like octopus and duck. We typically go for a combo and add on a seafood pancake, then wash it all down with plenty of Hite beer and soju. The original Annandale location has a karaoke bar next door—just sayin’.
Ingle Korean Steakhouse
8369 Leesburg Pike, Suite A, Vienna
An enormous hanging dry-aged beef rib enclosed in glass greets diners at the entrance of this recent Tysons Corner addition from the founder of Japanese rice bowl restaurant Donburi. From there, enter a bright, chic dining room with marbled quartz tables, lofty ceilings, and wood accents. A prix-fixe menu—$55 at lunch, $79 at dinner (it includes an extra appetizer)—offers cuts of the day from Virginia Angus beef, plus an option of sides (like chilled buckwheat noodles or galbi fried rice) and dessert. It’s also worth ordering one of the raw dishes, such as ice-chilled Kumamoto oysters or Korean-style steak tartare. Evenings bring interesting cocktails, such as a gin-soju concoction with tangerine and sesame or non-alcoholic pineapple “perilla-ade.”
4220 Annandale Rd., Annandale
Generous panchan, attentive service, and great value are hallmarks of this popular Korean barbecue joint. Combo sets and all-you-can-eat options ($33-$38 per person) offer a wide variety—from miso pork belly and fatty brisket to multiple types of intestines. Housemade dipping sauces, including orange-chili and soy-garlic, are particularly excellent. While the restaurant doesn’t take reservations, it’s always a good idea to call in advance to get on the waitlist. Bonus: Kogiya now offers take-home barbecue kits, including butane burners, grilltops, and tongs.
9619 Fairfax Blvd., Fairfax
There’s almost always a wait for this buzzy grill spot. (They do take reservations, so book in advance if you can.) Combos mostly stick to staples like spicy pork belly, bulgogi, and galbi (marinated short rib), though we like to upgrade to the prime combo ($88 for two people) for the 16-ounce ribeye. The assortment of panchan includes the typical items like pickled daikon and sweet potato salad. And if you’ve never dipped a hunk of beef in sizzling cheesy corn, now’s your chance.
8114 Arlington Blvd, Falls Church
This newcomer—whose name means “butcher shop” and “charcoal” in Korean—distinguishes itself with special grills that utilize both gas and charcoal for a smokier flavor. The spot features several house-aged and pre-smoked meats alongside some less common sides for the area, including bulgogi sushi and hash browns with kimchi mayo. A great way to sample the best of the menu is the “butcher’s omakase” for $59 per person. It includes sides and four meats such as a standout, giant, on-the-bone galbi. A lot of Korean barbecue restaurants skip dessert, but here you’ll find bingsoo with vanilla or green tea shaved ice, ice cream, and red beans.
So Korean BBQ
5728 Pickwick Rd., Centreville
The sister restaurant to Annandale’s Kogiya has a sleek beer hall vibe thanks to its massive dining room filled with rows of tabletop grills and string lights overhead. “So”—which translates to “cow”—specializes in beef, but the menu also features lesser-seen options like curry or rosemary-thyme pork belly. There’s also more seafood than most other barbecue joints, including spicy squid, shrimp, and yellow croaker. Meanwhile, appetizers extend beyond the typical kimchi pancakes and mandu dumplings with sweet-spicy fried chicken and tater tots. The place also has a separate bar with a faux fireplace where you can post up with a soju cocktail.
9292 Korean BBQ
7131 Little River Turnpike, Annandale
This massive spot, which started in Duluth, Georgia, feels bright and airy with its tall ceilings and wide booths. Group combos are the way to go, particularly if they include marinated beef and pork short ribs. Every meat platter comes with a generous selection of panchan, including sweet soy-glazed peanuts and beet-pink slices of pickled daikon. We love that muskmelon ice cream pops come complimentary for dessert when they’re in stock.