San Francisco’s thunderously good ramen scene is a mix of internationally acclaimed ramen chains, solid local brands, and high-end, sought-after options, such as the tasting menu at Noodle in a Haystack. Grabbing a bowl at Marufuku in Japantown or Mensho Tokyo on Geary Boulevard is always a smart move — though you’ll find neither on this map in an effort to highlight some less obvious options. Head to any of these 13 excellent ramen shops in San Francisco for a worthy bowl.Read More
13 Slurp-Worthy Bowls of Ramen in San Francisco
Because nothing says comfort like tonkotsu
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.
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. Hinodeya has locations in both Japantown and FiDi.
If you want to grab a bowl before a movie at Kabuki, Waraku serves affordable and comforting ramen, including a black garlic tonkotsu, clear chicken shoyu, and popular spicy tantanmen, as well as starters and rice bowls.
Noodle in a Haystack
Clint and Yoko Tan’s church of noodles has gotten plenty of hype, making reservations difficult to come by. Still, the award-winning couple’s food is worth seeking out if price is no issue, and interested parties can get a taste on specific dates if they plan far in advance (reservations available on Tock). Expect ramen-tasting menus full of A5 Wagyu and crispy karaage.
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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.
Nojo Ramen Tavern
Soy sauce paitan 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 corn, spicy miso, and other add-ons, and includes a whole slow-braised chicken leg.
The sister spot to Mensho Tokyo heartily leans into to-go options and specializes in abura soba, a type of ramen without the broth (although it is served with oil — in Jikasei’s case, a shoyu tare sauce). If you’re looking for something a little bit different, try the spicy fried eggplant abura soba or the lamb abura soba option.
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 tonkotsu, roasted garlic, shoyu, and veggie miso variations, and spiciness ranges from “No Spicy” to “Goku Spicy.” In addition to ramen, there are small plates such as takoyaki octopus balls and taiyaki fish-shaped cakes.
This popular, pint-sized Inner Sunset restaurant is known for serving a typical izakaya mix of beer- and sake-friendly bites: yakitori skewers and assorted fried fare. But Sozai’s most popular dish, by far, is its tonkotsu ramen, still one of the best versions in the city of the creamy, pork-heavy style.
If you’re looking to try a different style of ramen broth, which can skew more toward chicken and pork, Ushi Taro will instead tempt you into trying its beef broth ramen. Go for the paitan if you’re looking for something more classic, but there are other ramen takes to explore, such as the oxtail tomato ramen, if you’re so inclined. If you’re a fan of roasted bone marrow, there’s an option to add it as a flavorful side.
Taishoken San francisco
Esteemed ramen chef Masayasu Sakaguchi deemed San Mateo worthy of his first ramen outpost in the United States. Then in spring 2022, the restaurateur decided the former Mau space on Valencia Street was right for a second location. Nakano-style tsukemen, cold ramen noodles that are dipped into hot broth, remain the main draw.
Ramenwell is an excellent place to cozy up and eat some ramen in the Mission, and also offering some distraction-worthy plates such as the Bao Chicken Bao Bao, a panko-encrusted fried chicken bao. Slurp up the chicken tantanmen, treat your friend with gluten sensitivities to a gluten-free pork ramen, or vegetarians can order a bowl of the Mushroom Lover ramen — there’s truly something for everyone. (And don’t forget to add on soft serve if you can!)
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 eight different types of broth, from classic tonkotsu to miso and curry bases, with options to add on garlic or black garlic, and customize spiciness levels.
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