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13 Slurp-Worthy Bowls of Ramen in San Francisco

Because nothing says comfort like tonkotsu

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During the past few years, San Francisco has undergone a ramen renaissance, as high-profile international chains have joined local favorites to raise the bar for what the city’s dedicated noodle slurpers can expect — in terms broth flavor, noodle texture, and the jiggliness of the classic pork chashu topping. And while the creamy pork tonkotsu style still reigns supreme, connoisseurs are now getting familiar with other styles: lighter, seafood-based broths and even the soupless tsukemen dipping noodles.

During the pandemic, ramen even adapted for takeout and delivery, so in addition to sitting at a counter or in a parklet, you can even get some bowls to go these days, noodles and broth separated to preserve their integrity. Here, then, are more than a dozen satisfying options for when you’re craving ramen in San Francisco.

The latest CDC guidance for vaccinated diners during the COVID-19 outbreak is here; dining out still carries risks for unvaccinated diners and workers. Please be aware of changing local rules, and check individual restaurant websites for any additional restrictions such as mask requirements. Find a local vaccination site here.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Unlike the other spots on this list, this popular Richmond District izakaya-like spot is actually a Korean fusion restaurant rather than a place that purports to serve purely Japanese food. But instead of serving Korean-style ramyun (with or without American cheese), Jijime dishes out a quite solid rendition of a creamy tonkotsu-style broth, available in several versions — spiked with black garlic, for instance, or loaded with bite-size gyoza.

Kaiju Cooks

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Ramen purists may scoff at the fusion-heavy menu at this Richmond District izakaya, but those looking to branch out from the standard tonkotsu and shoyu bowls will appreciate the variety of options here, both in terms of toppings and broth styles — from the crowd favorite KO ramen (with meatballs and chashu baby back ribs) to bowls topped with sauteed Kobe beef or fried chicken slathered with curry aioli.

Izakaya Sozai

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This popular, pint-sized Inner Sunset restaurant is known for serving your typical izakaya mix of beer- and sake-friendly bites: yakitori skewers, sashimi, and assorted fried fare. But Sozai’s most most popular dish, by far, is its ritsu tonkotsu ramen, still one of the best versions in the city of the creamy, pork-heavy style.

Marufuku Ramen

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Since it first opened in 2017 This Japantown spot has drawn long lines for its hot bowls of rich, Hakata-style ramen — marked, broadly speaking, by its thin noodles and creamy tonkotsu broth. The shop is also known for its deluxe chicken paitan, which is available in limited quantities and comes with a sizzling chicken leg.

Iza Ramen

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This ramen-ya’s SoMa offshoot was done in by the pandemic, but the Lower Haight location is still going strong. Iza’s most popular ramen dish is its tsukemen — the soupless style, served with a concentrated dipping broth. But the restaurant’s standard ramen, which has a hybrid pork, chicken, and dashi-based broth, is also perfectly solid.

Iza Ramen/Facebook

Hinodeya Ramen Bar

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Hinodeya’s house ramen, made with a dashi-based broth and whole-wheat noodles, is quite popular, as is its bountiful, vegetable-topped “Zen” ramen — one of the better vegan ramen options in the city. Above all else, the restaurant is known for the briny, oceanic flavors of its fish-based soups — an effect that’s amplified if you’re lucky enough to snag a bowl of the clam ramen (yes, you read that right) and, if you’re in the mood, an order of fried oysters. Hinodeya has locations in both Japantown and the FiDi.

If you want to grab a bowl of ramen before a movie at Kabuki, Waraku serves up affordable and comforting ramen, including a black garlic tonkotsu, clear chicken shoyu, and popular spicy tantan men, as well as starters and rice bowls.

Waraku

Ramen Izakaya Goku

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This snug storefront on 16th Street in Mission Dolores swings open to warm wood interiors. The kitchen simmers the broth for 16 hours, with tonkatsu, chasu, clam garlic, and veggie miso variations, and spiciness ranges from “cool” to “hella spicy.” In addition to ramen, there are tempting small plates, including takoyaki octopus balls and taiyaki fish-shaped cakes.

Orenchi Beyond

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The trendy Mission offshoot of the legendary San Mateo ramen shop is known for both salt- and soy sauce–based versions of its notably creamy, pork-intensive tonkotsu broth.

Nojo Ramen Tavern

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Tori paitan — a thick, cloudy-white chicken-based broth, similar to a tonkotsu — is the signature style at this Hayes Valley ramen restaurant, whose parent company owns more than 200 ramen shops in Japan. The paitan base can come supplemented with tomato, spicy miso, and other add-ons, including a whole slow-braised chicken leg.

Coco's Ramen

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Coco’s is a cozy black-and-red izakaya with lanterns glowing from the windows on upper Mission as it crosses into Bernal. The home-style ramen comes in six different types of broth, from classic tonkatsu to miso and curry bases, with options to add on garlic or black garlic, and customize spiciness levels.

Ramen from Coco’s Ramen Coco’s Ramen

Mensho Tokyo SF

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The cult-favorite Tokyo ramen shop touched down with its first US outpost in 2015, and has been drawing long lines ever since. The Tenderloin location has limited seating, so Mensho was sadly closed for a good portion of the pandemic, but it finally reopened when the city hit 50 percent capacity, and it’s now back to serving coveted bowls of those ultra rich and creamy broths.  

Ippudo, a respected Japanese chain, has landed in the Bay Area with locations in San Francisco, Berkeley, and Cupertino. The menu spans a few different styles, both “modern” and “classic,” but the shop is probably still best known for its 18-hour “Shiromaru Classic” tonkotsu.

Jijime

Unlike the other spots on this list, this popular Richmond District izakaya-like spot is actually a Korean fusion restaurant rather than a place that purports to serve purely Japanese food. But instead of serving Korean-style ramyun (with or without American cheese), Jijime dishes out a quite solid rendition of a creamy tonkotsu-style broth, available in several versions — spiked with black garlic, for instance, or loaded with bite-size gyoza.

Kaiju Cooks

Ramen purists may scoff at the fusion-heavy menu at this Richmond District izakaya, but those looking to branch out from the standard tonkotsu and shoyu bowls will appreciate the variety of options here, both in terms of toppings and broth styles — from the crowd favorite KO ramen (with meatballs and chashu baby back ribs) to bowls topped with sauteed Kobe beef or fried chicken slathered with curry aioli.

Izakaya Sozai

This popular, pint-sized Inner Sunset restaurant is known for serving your typical izakaya mix of beer- and sake-friendly bites: yakitori skewers, sashimi, and assorted fried fare. But Sozai’s most most popular dish, by far, is its ritsu tonkotsu ramen, still one of the best versions in the city of the creamy, pork-heavy style.

Marufuku Ramen

Since it first opened in 2017 This Japantown spot has drawn long lines for its hot bowls of rich, Hakata-style ramen — marked, broadly speaking, by its thin noodles and creamy tonkotsu broth. The shop is also known for its deluxe chicken paitan, which is available in limited quantities and comes with a sizzling chicken leg.

Iza Ramen

Iza Ramen/Facebook

This ramen-ya’s SoMa offshoot was done in by the pandemic, but the Lower Haight location is still going strong. Iza’s most popular ramen dish is its tsukemen — the soupless style, served with a concentrated dipping broth. But the restaurant’s standard ramen, which has a hybrid pork, chicken, and dashi-based broth, is also perfectly solid.

Iza Ramen/Facebook

Hinodeya Ramen Bar

Hinodeya’s house ramen, made with a dashi-based broth and whole-wheat noodles, is quite popular, as is its bountiful, vegetable-topped “Zen” ramen — one of the better vegan ramen options in the city. Above all else, the restaurant is known for the briny, oceanic flavors of its fish-based soups — an effect that’s amplified if you’re lucky enough to snag a bowl of the clam ramen (yes, you read that right) and, if you’re in the mood, an order of fried oysters. Hinodeya has locations in both Japantown and the FiDi.

Waraku

Waraku

If you want to grab a bowl of ramen before a movie at Kabuki, Waraku serves up affordable and comforting ramen, including a black garlic tonkotsu, clear chicken shoyu, and popular spicy tantan men, as well as starters and rice bowls.

Waraku

Ramen Izakaya Goku

This snug storefront on 16th Street in Mission Dolores swings open to warm wood interiors. The kitchen simmers the broth for 16 hours, with tonkatsu, chasu, clam garlic, and veggie miso variations, and spiciness ranges from “cool” to “hella spicy.” In addition to ramen, there are tempting small plates, including takoyaki octopus balls and taiyaki fish-shaped cakes.

Orenchi Beyond

The trendy Mission offshoot of the legendary San Mateo ramen shop is known for both salt- and soy sauce–based versions of its notably creamy, pork-intensive tonkotsu broth.

Nojo Ramen Tavern

Tori paitan — a thick, cloudy-white chicken-based broth, similar to a tonkotsu — is the signature style at this Hayes Valley ramen restaurant, whose parent company owns more than 200 ramen shops in Japan. The paitan base can come supplemented with tomato, spicy miso, and other add-ons, including a whole slow-braised chicken leg.

Coco's Ramen

Ramen from Coco’s Ramen Coco’s Ramen

Coco’s is a cozy black-and-red izakaya with lanterns glowing from the windows on upper Mission as it crosses into Bernal. The home-style ramen comes in six different types of broth, from classic tonkatsu to miso and curry bases, with options to add on garlic or black garlic, and customize spiciness levels.

Ramen from Coco’s Ramen Coco’s Ramen

Mensho Tokyo SF

The cult-favorite Tokyo ramen shop touched down with its first US outpost in 2015, and has been drawing long lines ever since. The Tenderloin location has limited seating, so Mensho was sadly closed for a good portion of the pandemic, but it finally reopened when the city hit 50 percent capacity, and it’s now back to serving coveted bowls of those ultra rich and creamy broths.  

Ippudo

Ippudo, a respected Japanese chain, has landed in the Bay Area with locations in San Francisco, Berkeley, and Cupertino. The menu spans a few different styles, both “modern” and “classic,” but the shop is probably still best known for its 18-hour “Shiromaru Classic” tonkotsu.

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