A short 45 minute drive north of Atlanta lands you in Gwinnett County, the so-called Little Asia of north Georgia. This suburban metro-Atlanta community is a melting pot of different cultures, the most prominent being the Korean diaspora that has infused its own kind of “Seoul of the South” into the area, creating restaurants and shops that cater specifically to the Korean community. These restaurants, largely centered into the cities of Duluth and Suwanee, all offer something unique, varying in their ambiance, menu, and in their personal culinary twists on Korean dishes, both classic and chic. The quality and taste are superb, but it’s the authenticity and stories behind the Korean diaspora in Gwinnett that truly adds to the exciting and culture-infused dining experience.
Defined as the core of Korean-American culture by the Gwinnett Daily Post, Gwinnett’s Korean population has nearly doubled since 2000, bringing with it a plethora of Korean restaurants, businesses and cultural centers. With streets lined with different food niches that span across Asia, featuring specialty restaurants offering foods from Vietnam to Thailand, Gwinnett has become the ‘little Asia’ of north Georgia and for good reason, too. Specifically, Gwinnett’s Korean culture has grown exponentially as a result of the population’s northern expansion along Buford Highway, with communities moving from Doraville and, drawn by an exceptional educational system, plentiful land, and affordable housing, settling in Gwinnett County. If you’re interested in diving into the delicious world of Korean cuisine, check out our top restaurant recommendations below and taste for yourself why these restaurateurs are giving Gwinnett County its name on the Georgia culinary scene.
If you’re new to the Asian dining scene…
Ba Bellies, a self-proclaimed gastropub specializing in dishes with an Asian-American fusion, is the perfect starter stop for diving into the local Asia-inspired culinary world. The space itself is casual and open, providing a no-pressure atmosphere to try new dishes (that you may or may not be able to pronounce). Ba Bellies offers dishes to share, individual twists on classic Asian dishes, and even some southern classics (hello chicken and waffles!), making it easy for everyone to find something they’ll enjoy. For those ready to dive into the Asian culinary scene, we recommend starting with their fish sauce caramel wings and ordering their soy braised oxtail for the main course. If you’re still not ready to venture into a new food world, start your visit with a selection of rotating craft beers from local Atlanta breweries that Ba Bellies offers on tap and make yourself right at home.
If you want a chic dining spot for swaying future business partners….
One restaurant in particular has become Gwinnett’s more modern take on Korean dining, The Stone Grill. This is the perfect spot to impress future business partners, venture out on double-dates, or to simply take the family for a nicer, but still causal group dinner. Here, owner Jason Jang delivers a gourmet ambiance to the communal Korean BBQ experience. Each table features a personalized grill where you can have your food prepared and served all right in front of you. The open space of the restaurant gives The Stone Grill a chic appearance that pairs perfectly with their unique menu, combining old and new Korean classics with a modern flare. I highly recommend tasting their original spicy baby back ribs with cheese and their perfectly steamed pork dumplings.
Next up, we have Honey Pig, the restaurant that started the Korean BBQ trend in Gwinnett, serving as a leader for the influx of similarly styled restaurants to spring up within the county. Here, chef and owner John Lee caters to a younger clientele while still offering a communal and family-friendly environment. Like The Stone Grill, Honey Pig provides each table with their own cast-iron grill where you can immerse yourself in the preparation experience from sight to smell. Its funky, self-described industrial-chic interior makes it the perfect eatery for hanging out with friends while you indulge in the dishes of one of Gwinnett County, Georgia‘s most popular spots for Korean BBQ. My favorite dish here is the pork BBQ, cooked to perfection on my table’s very own cast-iron lid.
If you need a quick and casual lunch spot…
Suwanee Chick and Pizza serves as a laid-back, speedy alternative to The Stone Grill and Honey Pig that still manages to offer that communal dining environment that seems paramount to the Korean food culture. Popular with students as an after-school food stop, Suwanee Chicken and Pizza offers an eclectic menu that puts a Korean flair on your favorite and classic southern fried foods. The restaurant is simple yet delicious, leaving the unexpected cultural mixtures to speak for themselves. Next time you’re in the area, stop by and see for yourself why Bulgogi and Korean style pizzas with fried chicken are the best pizza topping combinations you never knew you needed.
Depending on who you ask, indulging in desserts can sometimes be the best part of any outing. Conveniently located right next door to Suwanee Chick and Pizza, Arte 3 Cafe provides you with the ultimate dessert menu that allows you to continue your experience of Korean cuisine all the way through to the last bite. My sweet tooth may make me a bit biased, but Arte 3 is my new bakery obsession and preferred coffee shop because of the variety of sweets their menu offers. The interior is adorable and perfect for small groups to catch up over some Misutgaru (Korean multi-grain shakes), Patbingsu (Korean shaved ice dessert with fruit), or a plate of Bungeoppang (fish-shaped bread with red bean fillings).
In a rush? Check out our quick-tip guide for finding what you need fast!
Perfect for: Newbies to the Asian culinary scene, casual groups, and family outings
Food type: Asian-American Fusion
Location: 6025 Peachtree Parkway #9, Peachtree Corners, GA 30092
Dish to try: Fish sauce caramel wings and the soy braised oxtail
The Stone Grill
Perfect for: Business meetings, family dinners, double-dates, nicer group outings
Food type: Korean BBQ
Location: 2550 Pleasant Hill Road, Duluth, GA 30097
Dish to try: spicy baby back ribs with cheese and their perfectly steamed pork dumplings
Perfect for: Friend groups, casual family outings, communal dining
Food type: Korean BBQ
Location: 3473 Old Norcross Road #304, Duluth, GA 30096
Dish to try: Pork BBQ
Suwannee Chicken and Pizza
Perfect for: Casual group settings, after-school snacks, speedy meals
Food Type: Korean/Southern
Location: Assi Plaza, 1291 Old Peachtree Road NW #204, Suwannee, GA 30024
Dish to try: Bulgogi Pizza
Arte 3 Cafe
Perfect for: Small groups, casual outings, individual dining
Food type: Coffee shop/Korean desserts
Location: 1291 Old Peachtree Road NW #300 Suwannee, GA 30024
Dish to try: Patbingsu