A taste of Mexico
Just a couple minute walk from Itaewon station, the new lounge/restaurant Volstead is serving cocktails customized to diner preferences and a daring menu of Mexican food. Born in Los Angeles, I was instantly intrigued when I learned that Chef D, a Korean adoptee, was raised in California by a Mexican American family and honed his skills working in the kitchen with his Mexican abuelita.
Taste buds ready I entered the restaurant to find the perfect ambiance for lounging around with designer drinks and delicious food. The theme and interior is inspired by speakeasy culture and art is selected personally by the owners Justin and Alex. Eclectic furniture and low key lighting set the vibe as the eyes are instantly drawn to an impressively stocked bar and a chalkboard with today's Mexican Selections.
I started my odyssey with the Della Grande Nachos Supreme priced at 14,000 won. The tortilla chips are fried up daily then covered with a slowly braised carnitas that Chef D spends 8 hours perfecting. Next comes fresh pico de gallo, guacamole and a jalapeno four cheese blend. Unlike other nachos I've had in Korea, these were completely covered in all the ingredients mentioned above.
My group also chose the chicken tacos which were 2 for 10,000 won. These were instant standouts as you realize they are served on tortillas that are handmade daily. Add to that the full flavored chicken, great contrast of creamy avocado slaw, citrusy salsa, and a homemade hotsauce… and you have a taco bursting with flavors.
The end of the meal kicker is truly one of my favorites. Volstead serves up a decadent habanero brownie priced at 7,000 won. While I'm not usually good with spice, the rich chocolate envelops your mouth and there is a delicious heat left when you finally finish. I would come back for these any day of the week.
To accompany this bold line-up of Mexican dishes, the owners are committed to providing a unique, quality experience with their cocktail menu. Volstead employees encourage diners to express their personal preferences when ordering cocktails as the drinks are customized to suit the tastes of each individual diner. My dining partner enjoyed a refreshing Volstead Tonic which employs Hendricks gin with a touch of aloe and cucumber to deliver an elevated take on a classic. The extent of their drink menu delivers a promise of hours spent lounging and enjoying the creations.
Volstead is primarily a bar and lounge, so I wouldn't bring the kids. But if you are looking for a great taste of home with a vast array of cocktails at your disposal, I would highly recommend this experience. Judging from the delighted remarks of my fellow diners, I know I will be back to work my way thru the rest of their current menu featuring enchiladas, tamales, burritos and a chorizo taco salad.
From the Itaewon Station intersection, walk down the road that has Taco Bell. Volstead will be on your left after about 2 minutes (Across the street from Left Coast Burgers)
Photo courtesy of Heather Rhine