Listing the Bay Area’s best ramen shops can be a dangerous endeavor; steaming bowls of noodles inspire passion in even the most laid-back locals around these parts. But the good news is we’re never short on options!
Notoriously, South Bay is the go-to spot for ramen, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find hidden gems in the Peninsula, the city, the East Bay and even Napa Valley! We rounded up our top 15 so you can get a bowl wherever you are in the region.
Best Places to Get Ramen in the Bay Area Include:
This Napa Valley bar and restaurant brings the passion of farm-to-table to the deliciousness of ramen and inspired Japanese and Northern California cuisine. Though the menu at Terra Restaurant changes daily, you can usually find ramen on the menu at Bar Terra. Made with Chashu Jowl, pig trotters, Jidori egg and Tokyo-style broth, you won’t regret this savory and succulent treat. Whatever you do, don’t skip dessert!
This Bernal Heights ramen spot offers traditional options like tonkotsu, miso, shoyu, shio and vegetarian dishes alongside creative curry and seafood options as well. Any bowl you choose is going to be your new go-to, but we recommend sharing another plate while you wait. How about the grilled whole squid with spicy mayo sauce?
This snug rustic space in the Lower Haight began as a weekend-only pop-up at the chef-owner’s sushi spot, Blowfish. When the team opened their first brick and mortar restaurant, they cemented SF as an authentic ramen destination; their traditional dish is made up of slow-cooked BBQ pork belly, fatty triple-stock broth, perfectly chewy noodles, soft boiled egg and a variety of other tasty toppings. Now you can try it for yourself at locations in the Lower Haight and SoMA!
Among the various places to eat in the Inner Sunset, Izayaka Sozai is a must-try for ramen newbies and ramen lovers alike. When you get through the line, we suggest ordering the creamy tonkotsu ramen and fried pork belly — it’s worth the wait! In fact, Thrillist even named the dish on their round-up of the top ramen shops in America!
Photo courtesy of Ken Ken Ramen and Takahiro Hori
Located in the Mission, Ken Ken has been a local favorite since it opened over five years ago. Epitomizing the modern twists we love about ramen and the traditional tastes we’re obsessed with, their ramen is one of the only dishes of its kind in the city to be made with no MSG and no pre-made ingredients. The ramen menu changes throughout the week so we recommend going more than once!
In traditional Hakata style, Marufuku ramen features a rich and milky Tonkotsu broth cooked for over 20 hours, ultra-thin artisanal noodles for a perfect broth pairing, and Cha-shu made from specially selected pork. That and their to-die-for rice bowls give us multiple reasons to visit Japantown!
Ramen is just a small section of the menu at Mokutanya so stop by this Burlingame spot when you have plenty of room in your belly! In addition to soy sauce, pork and miso flavors, the lunch menu features Spicy Beef Ramen, their signature spicy broth with bean sprouts, spinach, wagyu beef slices and shiitake mushroom. During dinner, they go all out with Tonkotsu Ramen, Shoyu Ramen, Cold Ramen, Miso and more!
Nojo | San Francisco
Using recipes derived from sister restaurants in Japan, the chefs at Nojo in Hayes Valley offer a deliberate departure from the more familiar Tonkotsu broth in favor of a deep and rich Chicken Paitan broth. Paired with thick and savory noodles tailored specifically to match the broth, this dish will have you coming back again and again — which is good because you’ll want to try the small plates, signature dishes and poke bowls as well!
Santa Clara’s Orenchi is another spot named on Thrillist’s best ramen shops in America and we completely agree! Yoshiyuki Maruyama’s perfect broth, slow-simmered Kurobuta pork, green onion and soft-boiled egg create the most craveable combination. If you’ve tried the Orenchi before, venture out with the Shoyu or Shio flavors or head to Orenchi Beyond in San Francisco for a different, but still delectable experience.
Photos courtesy of Ramen HALU
If Halu isn’t on your top ten ramen list, you can’t really call it the best of The Bay. Their menu of Japanese favorites includes Shoyu and Shio Ramen, Nagisa, Halu, Tuke-men, Tan-Tan Men and more — all with no GMO, no chemical MSG, no white sugar, no bleached flour and no refined salt added!
This appropriately named ramen shop is the shining gem of the East Bay — and with to-go service, you might find yourself craving their ramen more often than normal. The shop was originally opened in Downtown Oakland by three chefs from the legendary Chez Panisse who wanted to open a casual noodle spot. When you stop by, order any flavor of ramen and don’t skip the Black Sesame Ice Cream Sandwich!
Santouka Ramen comes straight out of Japan and now has locations in Asia, Canada and the United States. The San Jose shop has become a favorite among locals whether they’re craving classic Shoyu or Tokusen Toroniku served with roasted pork cheeks. Whatever you order, you can guarantee it’s been handmade in-house with minimal salt added and a careful attention to both ingredients and preparation.
It’s easy to get drowned in all the ramen options of the South Bay, but SEIKI stands alone as one of the best. Merging modern adaptations with traditional recipes, they’ve created bowls that are inherently NorCal — especially because they’re made with ingredients from local farmers. Start with the Gyoza to snack on while you wait for one of three ramen flavors. And we definitely recommend adding the fried softshell crab as a topping!
Shalala | Mountain View
Ramen Shalala’s tonkotsu broth is made by boiling pork bones, chicken bones and fresh vegetables for 15 hours at very high heat. And after all that work, we get one of the Bay Area’s best bowls of ramen. Stop by seven days a week in Mountain View to try it for yourself — and go ahead, get the large!
This Chinese and Japanese San Mateo restaurant is authentic down to every daily special. Among locals, it’s a go-to in the area and we think it should be yours, too! Get the ramen, the spicy rice, the noodles, the sweet and sour pork — you won’t regret it.
Do you have a go-to ramen shop?
Share your favorites in the comments below!