One of the very best things about living in Northern Virginia is the vibrant Korean community. For meat lovers, the rewards go beyond cultural enrichment — Korean barbecue is one of the world’s most glorious ways to dine on animal protein. Whether you’re grilling your own thinly sliced cuts or letting an expert share tableside skills, the region is replete with excellent examples of this culinary tradition. These are some of our favorite places to get a dose of tender beef, crisp pickled vegetables, and bubbling steamed eggs.
9292 Korean BBQ
For those who are in it as much for the sides as the meat, the unusual grills here are filled and refilled with vegetables, steamed egg, and even stretchy corn cheese. Partake of all-you-can-eat or á la carte meat options, as well as premium combination platters. You’ll find higher quality cuts elsewhere, but when pure gluttony is on the menu, there’s no better destination. 7133 Little River Tpke., Unit A, Annandale
Firepan Korean BBQ
K-pop fans will be delighted by the screens projected with candy-colored music videos, but the gustatory thrills are focused on the all-you-can-eat menu packed with garlicky marinated victuals. The bottomless meals start at $29.99, one of the best deals you’ll find, so pull up a chair, soak in the youthful voices, and spend the next 90 minutes in a beefy haze. 6793-C Wilson Blvd., Falls Church; 15151 Potomac Town Pl., Woodbridge
You won’t find all-you-can-eat deals or dry-aged delicacies here. It has earned its position with moderate prices, flavorful marinades, and endless banchan worthy of a meal on its own. The bulgogi and neukgansal (seasoned rib fingers) are highlights. Pro tip: It sells bottles of its habit-forming, gingery salad dressing to help fans continue the joy even after their visit. 14101 St. Germain Dr., Centreville
The name says it all: The owners here take their meat seriously and aren’t afraid to tempt diners with higher-priced but luxe proteins. A window near the entrance foreshadows what’s to come with a peek into the in-house dry-ager. Options focus on certified Angus beef and Duroc and Berkshire pork but keep your eyes open for aged Iberico de Bellota pigs imported from Spain. 14215 H, Centreville Sq., Centreville
Ingle Korean Steakhouse
Owner James Jang created this new restaurant because he craved somewhere upscale to take his family and friends to in the Tysons area. He’s accomplished that for himself and adoring fans who want to dress up a bit for their enviably cooked cuts harvested from the ribs of local cattle. Order the prix-fixe, which includes five courses for $75, and don’t miss the spicy chilled buckwheat noodles. 8369 Leesburg Pk., Ste. A, Vienna
Puzukan Tan Korean Grill
The dishes served at Korean barbecue restaurants generally vary only as far as cuts and marinades can take a chef. That’s why the giant rib galbi at this standout is such a revelation. A whole short rib is marinated until it’s so tender it’s a wonder that it holds together. It’s cooked on the grill, then rearrangedinto chunks onto the bone for consumption. There’s cold-smoked pork belly, too, another innovation worth tasting more than once. 8114 Arlington Blvd., Falls Church
For more stories like this, subscribe to Northern Virginia Magazine’s Food newsletter.