As someone who is always searching for new places to eat, I generally make it a rule to not visit the same restaurants too often (unless my friends just happen to always be there). My rules regarding revisits can get especially strict when it comes to reviewing places. That being said, despite my stance, I am willing to allow a few exceptions.
I first reviewed Corona back in 2013 when it first opened. Located in the bustling Chonnam Backgate area, what began off as a small and simple Tex-Mex restaurant has started to evolve into what I hope will soon become a household name among both expats and locals. Though I didn’t make too many trips after thoroughly reviewing it the first time, a couple of recent visits have left me filled with regrets for not coming back sooner.
Before I start talking about the food, I’d like to point out that anyone who follows the restaurant’s Facebook page can be updated on specials, events, and even sports broadcasts that are played on a very nice projector. There have been multiple instances when this cozy and welcoming business was open on days where everyone else was closed for one reason or another. For people like me who sometimes get powerful cravings for chips and chimichangas, this is definitely a big plus.
The last time I went, which happened to be a holiday where no one else appeared to be working, I was accompanied by some friends who also had no place to to be. The restaurant was packed, but we thankfully managed to find a spare table. When I cracked open the menu, there was a smile on my face when I saw it been updated. Classics like Tacos, Burritos, and Chimichangas were still around, but options like Shrimp and Avocado Tacos, Beef Chili Soup, Taco Dip, and even Steak (available as a special) had become regular dishes since sometime in 2014. After a short chat with Choong, who is the owner of the establishment, as well as one of the nicest guys around, it became clear to me that he was open to new ideas and wanted try his best to work with his customers to make an already pleasant experience into a great one. After fighting the urge to order one of everything, we ended up getting the Nachos Grande, a Chicken Chimichanga, a Beef Quesadilla, Beef Tacos, Chili Cheese Fries, and the Steak special. We initially wanted to get some of the avocado-based dishes, but they were unavailable due to winter taking away all the avocados in Gwangju.
During my very first visit, one of the few criticisms I had was that the service was a little slow. This was not the case this time around, which was impressive considering how busy it was. We first got to try the Nachos Grande, which delicious and didn’t skimp on the toppings. Both the Chicken Chimichanga and the Beef Quesadilla arrived piping hot and had not been left out to get soggy in the least. Though they were sauced up, which is typical with dishes in Korea, I personally can’t find myself ever having anything negative to say about having my food topped with healthy amounts of cheese and sour cream. When the Beef Tacos came out, I noticed right away that we were receiving significantly more food for each order compared to my first visit. The flavors were right where they needed to be, and we were given more than enough jalapenos in case we needed a kick.
The Chili Cheese Fries, which were also hot and crisp when we received them, came with enough food to be a meal in itself. Compared to other variations of this messy and delicious dish, this version did not hold back on the amount of chili and cheese we were given. As for the Steak..? I’ve done a lot of thinking since I tried the somewhat out of place steak at this small Tex-Mex restaurant in Gwangju, and I’ve been doing my best to stay as honest and unbiased as possible while trying to construct an opinion. With that in mind, I can say without a doubt that this was the best steak I’ve in the 4-5 years I’ve lived in South Korea. Not only was it seasoned well, but the beautiful strip of beef had been cooked to near perfection. Covered with gorgeous grill marks, the outside of my steak had just the right amount of char and salt to offer a delicate crunch while managing to stay tender and medium rare on the inside. I’m sure the dish came with a salad and a cheesy potato, but I was too busy savoring (while hesitantly sharing) my steak until there was nothing left.
Though I don’t have pictures of what I ate during another visit, I feel like some attention should be brought to the Wings. I’m a person who digs spicy food, and each bite of these saucy pieces of chicken gave a good, long burn that could only be appreciated by those who can handle the heat. Though some of us were tearing up and drinking more than our fair share of water, everyone agreed that these were some of the best wings in town.
It appears that, like good cheese or wine, Corona only seems to get better with time. Not only is the food very good, but the selection of beer is unique and even rare enough to be reason enough for some people visit often. All that combined with a welcoming atmosphere and a solid entertainment system make it pretty obvious why people have fallen in love with this local favorite. Though I wouldn’t recommend this place for lunch (as they don’t open until dinnertime), there are few situations where I wouldn’t want to go back. The only downside I could think of is that seating is still somewhat limited, so be sure to reserve in advance when arriving with larger parties.
Address: 광주광역시 북구 용봉동 159-8 (located in the Chonnam Backgate area)
Hours: 6:00PM to 2:00AM
Average Price Range: 7,000 to 16,000 per person