Yelp's Trend Expert Says Korean BBQ Restaurants Are On The Rise

Americans love a good barbecue, which is why Yelp releases its list of the top 100 BBQ spots in the country every year. The 2024 list came out back in February and we are dying to try some of these restaurants. We were curious about what was unique on this year's list, so we reached out to Yelp Trend Expert Tara Lewis to find out what she thought were the biggest barbecue trends in 2024.

"This year's list also really celebrates all the different kinds of BBQ – Korean, Japanese, and American," Lewis told us. "Whether you're looking for spicy pork belly or a pulled pork platter, there's something for everyone on the list." If you're not yet familiar with Korean BBQ, you don't know what you're missing. Each restaurant will have its own take on the genre but the marinade used for Korean BBQ is unbelievably good. The primary ingredients are sesame oil and gochujang (a type of red curry paste) and both combine to produce a flavor profile that is entirely unique in the barbecue world.

Perhaps it's not surprising, then, that Korean cuisine is on the rise. In fact, according to data from The Food Institute (via Restaurant Business), global interest in Korean food increased by a shocking 90% in 2021. Another fun thing about most (though not all) Korean BBQ restaurants is that they'll have you as the customer grill your own meat using an open-faced tabletop grill. The menu has different options for what kind of meat you want to eat, so it's fresh off the grill with every bite. The process has a similar hands-on appeal to cheese fondue or raclette in that way.

The U.S. has a lot of great Korean BBQ restaurants

One of the big hits on Yelp's list for Korean BBQ is Sō Korean Barbeque located in Centreville, Virginia. The restaurant's Yelp reviews are filled with happy customers boasting about the great service and high-quality food. Mashed recently highlighted some of the best Korean BBQ restaurants in America as well, which (perhaps unsurprisingly) showcased how lucky people in Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York are since those cities are flush with great options to choose from. Some standouts to us were Hae Jang Chon Korean BBQ in Los Angeles, Dons Bogam BBQ & Wine Bar in New York City, and San Ho Won in San Francisco, which has earned a Michelin star (though there aren't tabletop grills for you to cook with at this one).

When it comes to Korean BBQ, it's important to know what the best cuts of meat to order are. But don't skip out on the side plates, either. Tteokbokki is a sort of rice noodle dish (technically rice cake but they look and taste like chewy rice noodles) that's smothered in a rich gochujang-focused sauce that's very filling and well worth a try. If you want something a little lighter so you can focus on the meat, a spicy cucumber salad (oi muchim) is a good option. Whatever you decide to eat, Korean BBQ is best enjoyed with a group of friends or family, so make use of Yelp to find good options in your area and go get grilling!

Alb Media owns and operates Tasting Corner and Mashed.