Don Charly has grown a bit of a cult following over the years and it’s easy to see why. On Wednesday, the wife and I got a chance to check out Don Charly’s at their Gyeongridan location near Noksapyeong. It was nice to relax in a lively environment, listening to some salsa music and eat some authentic Mexican goodness.
How to get there: If you can get to Craftworks, you can get to Don Charly because it is right beside it on the second floor. For those of you who don’t know where that is you simply take the subway to Noksapyeong Station (Line 6) and depart from Exit 2. Walk down the hill with the army base on your left until you get to the pedestrian tunnel to get to the other side of the street. Make a right when you are below ground, and then a left and walk up the stairs. Don Charly is about 50 meters up the street near Craftworks.
Atmosphere and Service: As you walk into Don Charly you immediately sense the fresh and vibrant atmosphere. The place is lively, without being tiresome. The salsa music from the speakers compliments the spirited atmosphere. I was also really impressed with the colors of Don Charly. I usually don’t make a note of such things, but I found the bright and radiant colors refreshing and exciting. The signs (NSFW) on the wall might turn some people off but I found them amusing in a middle school kind of way.
The service was excellent. Food came to our table quickly and accurately. We ordered a couple of drinks with lunch, and when the drinks came out, the food followed a few minutes later. The servers were friendly and hospitable. My only complaint was that we ordered water, and they didn’t have any free water. We had to order a bottle. Not too big, but I don’t understand how a restaurant doesn’t have free water.
Food and Drink: It was a big lunch. Today we ordered Alambre, Choriqueso, Tinga de Pollo, Sencillo, Totopos Con Salsa with Guacamole con Chicarron, two waters, a Horchata, and a Negra Modelo. Sound confusing? I’ll break this all done.
Food: Don Charly is not Tex-Mex. This is probably as authentic of a Mexican cuisine experience you will find in Seoul and it is rewarding culinary experience.
Las Quesadillas Fritas Tinga De Pollo – 2 Piece (8,000KRW): The Quesadillas Fritas Tinga De Pollo (Fried Quesadillas Stuffed with Chicken and Spicy Chipotle) came to our table first. The quesadillas were topped with shredded cheese, sour cream and guacamole. Cutting into it was a little tough, but the inside was packed with chicken, tomatoes and onions. First, the chipotle gave the chicken excellent flavor. There as a nice kick, but it didn’t overwhelm the other flavors of the quesadilla, but complimented them well.
Los Sopesitos Sencillo – 2 Piece (8,000KRW): The Los Sopesitos Sencillo was served in a corn shell and was a refreshing treat after eating quesadillas. The coolness of the lettuce, guacamole and black beans replenished my tongue that was still kindling. It was a great dish and would be perfect for a warm, summer afternoon. The flavors were cool and fresh with the black beans standing out from the rest of the toppings. I didn’t really understand the radishes on top, but it wouldn’t be enough from deterring me from ordering it again.
Los Tacos Choriqueso – 3 pieces (9,000KRW): Tacos are always so good on so many levels. The more I explore Mexican food, the more I love trying different varieties of tacos. I’ve never had the opportunity to try tacos with Mexican sausage, but it was a delightful experience. The taco shells were soft and warm. The sausages was grilled perfectly mixed with cheese, onions and tomatoes. The lemon on the side was interesting. I squeezed a little into my taco and it gave it a zesty taste that complimented the sausage. A zesty twist.
Alambre – 3 Pieces (10,000KRW): Instead of pork, the Alambre taco consists of grilled beef with bacon, sautéed onions and grilled bell peppers. The Alambre was a delight mix of flavors. The bacon and caramelized taste of the onions gave the taco a sweetness to add to the flavors of the bell pepper. The beef was nicely cooked and seasoned, and the taco shell was soft, warm and easy to handle. An excellent taco, and I would put it slightly ahead of the Choriquesos because of the diversity of flavors.
Los Totopos + Guacamole Con Chicharron (9,000KRW): Ahh, nothing like some fried pork grinds and guacamole to finish off the afternoon. The pork rinds were crispy, and the guacamole was fresh and full of flavor. My only complaint was that the guacamole was a little small considering the amount of pork rinds you get with it. We finished off the gauc long before the chips. Don, you need to give a little more gauc for 4,000KRW. That said, this is literally the only complaint I had that afternoon.
Drinks: I indulged in a cool beer (Negra Modelo) and Jill had a Horchata.
Homemade Horchata (7,000KRW): I’ve never tried a Horchata, but my lovely wife was willing to share and I’m glad she did. I don’t normally think of milk as refreshing, but the ice and the other spices really hit the spot on this warm afternoon. The drink’s dominant flavor was cinnamon, but there were also hints of vanilla and I swear I taste a tiny touch of coconut. Drinking the Horchata helped cool down the tongue after eating Las Quesadillas Fritas Tinga De Pollo which had some kick.
Negra Modelo (6,000KRW): Like most Mexican beers, the Negra Modelo is light and crisp. A great beer for the summer. If you like Corona or Sol, give this one a try.
Value: The total bill came to 59,000KRW. It’s a pretty big price, but we ordered a lot of food and it was amazing. The quality was excellent, the atmosphere was lively and the service was good. For that dining experience, you are going to pay a little more. If you are on a budget, hit up the Taco Bell in Itaewon to fulfill you Mexican needs.
Who Should Go To Don Charly: People looking for an authentic Mexican culinary experience.
Who Should Avoid Don Charly: If you are looking for a Tex-Mex experience, this isn’t the place. That said, there are tons of options for that around Itaewon including On The Border. Also for people on a budget, the portions are smaller than what one might get elsewhere. The quality is amazing however, and no one should ever sacrifice quality for quantity.