Gongju is famous for its agricultural products, like their sagwa (apples), bahm (chestnuts), and ddalgi (strawberries), which can be found in their open markets, like the largest and most popular, Sanseong Shijang. Otherwise, Gongju has a good variety of locally owned Korean restaurants and not too many Western options.
In front of Gongsanseong is a place to get great bibimbap (a mixed rice bowl), Ochae Bibimbap (tel. 041/856-0757). They serve their bibimbap with a variety of seasonal vegetables, some banchan, and dwenjang (fermented soybean paste) instead of the usual gochujang (chile paste), and it costs only W6,000. Also near Gongsanseong is Saeihak Garden (tel. 041/854-2030), well known by locals for their ddalo gookbap (a meal of rice and soup, made with beef). They make their soup with beef bones and simmer it for 2 days to extract all the flavor from them. The meal comes with a nice array of banchan and kimchi and costs only W5,000.
For a seriously old-style Korean flavor, go to Naegohyang Mukjib, 297 Gongap-li, Banpo-myeon, Gongju-si (tel. 041/857-4884), whose name translates to "My Hometown Mook House." Mook is a Korean savory jelly, and the kind that is locally popular is made from acorns (dotoli muk). In a traditional building that's at least 200 years old, they serve up the acorn jelly or soon dubu (hand-made tofu) in the traditional way. They're located not far from Donghaksa.
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