The guys behind Vatos Urban Tacos in Seoul may be the only restaurant crew on the planet that can say they’ve taken selfie-stick selfies with John Kerry. The U.S. Secretary of State joined U.S. Ambassador Mark Lippert and his family there for lunch in spring of 2014, causing a social media ruckus with their motorcade and rooftop-pacing secret servicemen. Vatos’ co-founders, a trio of Korean-Americans weaned on tacos in Texas and California, set up shop in 2011 after funding the launch through Kickstarter (the first such campaign in Korea). Now they have five bumping locations throughout South Korea and Singapore. The O.G. flagship has a fun, chill atmosphere—and it’s credited with pioneering the food-and-drink revival in the once-scuzzy expat neighborhood of Itaewon. (Diner beware: The KoMex chainlet’s success has also spawned many a pale imitator.) When ordering, go for the loaded kimchi carnitas fries, galbi short rib tacos with ssamjang aioli and Asian slaw, and tempura beer-battered fish tacos.
1 Itaewon-ro 15-gil, 2nd Fl., Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea; 02-797-8226.