San Francisco

The Definitive Guide to San Francisco's Best Ramen

The ultimate cold-weather meal.

Ippudo US
Ippudo US
Ippudo US

If there’s one good thing to come out of 2020, it’s that since we’re now getting all of our restaurant meals via takeout and delivery, we don’t have to wait in a long line for a piping hot and oh-so comforting bowl of noodles in a rich and layered broth. And while ramen is an SF staple year-round, now that there’s a distinct chill in the air, our craving for this Japanese staple has only increased. The good news is that SF has fantastic ramen shops all over the city, many of which are still open and offering takeout and delivery (and some in-restaurant dining when allowed). Here are the ones we’re ordering from right now again and again:

Courtesy of Ippudo US
Courtesy of Ippudo US
Courtesy of Ippudo US

Ippudo 

SoMa
This world-renowned ramen restaurant is usually packed with people (and more lining up down the block) looking to tuck into the famous tonkotsu ramen known for its smooth and silky pork-based stock. But now, you can pick up your order with no wait or wait for it to get delivered. The menu is simple-there are three kinds of tonkotsu ramen: the “Shiromaru classic” with dashi, pork belly chashu, sesame kikurage mushrooms, menma, pickled ginger and scallions; the “akamaru modern” topped with miso paste; and a spicy version with an added kick. The chicken karaage (marinated hand-battered fried chicken) is also a must, and, when dining in restaurants reopens, so are the top-tier sake and Tori whiskey highballs.
How to order: Call 415-348-1202 for takeout or order from Grubhub or UberEats

 

Courtesy of The Ramen Bar SF
Courtesy of The Ramen Bar SF
Courtesy of The Ramen Bar SF

Ramen Bar 

Financial District
With an empire that stretches from Jackson Hole to Dubai, and includes business partners like Ayesha Curry and Marc Benioff, it’s easy to get swept up thinking about the sheer grandeur of the MINA Group and forget that Michael Mina’s San Francisco restaurants are what started it all. Perhaps the most humble of the San Francisco offerings is this collaboration with Chef Ken Tominaga, a Toykoy native, where, in normal times, 9-to-5ers pop in during lunch for bowls of ginger-chicken or Hokkaido-style pork ramen, but where in non-normal times you can get it for takeout or delivery.
How to order: Ramen Bar delivers six miles from 101 California Street, and also accepts delivery orders up to two weeks in advance outside of that area if you call 415-535-0184 or email [email protected]. Orders are also available for pickup.

 

Kaiju Cooks/Kaiju Eats 

Inner Richmond/Laurel Heights
Once you’re tired of the fancy ramen spots (or at least need a change), it’s time to hit up Kaiju Cooks, a charming spot right between the Inner and Outer Richmond. There are several options, including a signature spicy Kobe beef, as well as a tom-yum inspired seafood one with a coconut-lime broth. Traditional? No. Excellent? Yes. It’s the younger sibling of Kaiju Eats in Laurel Heights, which also boasts a similar menu of creative ramens, along with a tried-and-true tonkotsu one.
How to order: Order online for pickup or get delivery from Postmates, Uber Eats or DoorDash

 

Courtesy of Marufuku Ramen
Courtesy of Marufuku Ramen
Courtesy of Marufuku Ramen

Marufuku Ramen 

Japantown
We’re not going to pick an objective best of the handful of excellent Japantown ramen shops (that’d be impossible), but if you held a poll among diners with that question, we’re betting that this stalwart would win. The signature Hakata-style tonkotsu is deeply flavored and elegant in texture and, like all of the ramens, can be totally customized, including the spice level. To go next level at Marufuku, catch one of the 15 servings per day of the spectacular chicken paitan “DX” with magnificently vibrant white chicken broth and a grilled chicken leg for good measure. Usually, you’d have to be one of the firsts at the door. Now you just have to be the one of the firsts on your computer.
How to order: Order online for pickup or get delivery from Grubhub, Uber Eats, or DoorDash.

Jijime 

Outer Richmond
The city’s many ramen aficionados appreciate a somewhat-unknown ramen place that doesn’t have lines down the block thanks to a bunch of “influencers.” This Korean tapas restaurant that happens to serve a formidable ramen is one of them. It’s easy to totally skip over the ramen section in lieu of beef short ribs or a spicy pork plate, but don’t make that mistake. The pork kuro with housemade black garlic oil and the tonkotsu with ground sesame seeds are probably the elite pair of the group. Actually, why not get beef short ribs and a ramen? After all, it’s the little things that bring us joy these days and those definitely both will.
How to order: Order takeout online or get it delivered by Grubhub, DoorDash, Postmates, Caviar, or Uber Eats

Courtesy of Ramenwell
Courtesy of Ramenwell
Courtesy of Ramenwell

Ramenwell

Mission
After the beloved Ken-Ken Ramen closed a few years ago, we all wondered if its replacement could fill its big shoes. The answer, thanks to Ramenwell’s chef/owner Harold Jurado, is a resounding yes. He has the magic touch with assertive, beautifully constructed bowls of ramen, focusing on just a few versions (20-hour tonkotsu, a spicy garlic pork, a shoyu mushroom-based “Mushroom Lover” and its vegan counterpart). Want to make your ramen at home? Ramenwell also has a couple of ramen kits broken down and ready to be made in your kitchen, as well as slightly odd marriage, but one we hope stands the test of time, of a couple of Hawaiian plates, like a house-smoked kalua pork.
How to order: Order online for pickup or delivery.

Coco’s 

Outer Mission
Right at the edge of the Outer Mission and Bernal Heights, Coco’s is the kind of petite, wood-paneled neighborhood charmer that we all wish we had steps from our door. Of course, for a while anyway, a restaurant’s charm is unimportant. All that matters is that the food is good. And at Coco’s, it is. There are six kinds of broth to choose from, most which are slow-cooked with a pork and chicken stock base. Plus, there’s a seafood ramen and a way-above-average vegan one too that’s even good for meat eaters looking for something a little lighter. Coco’s is probably the least flashy or hyped of the ramen restaurants on this list. And that’s good. They let the bowls do the talking.
How to order: Order online for takeout or get it delivered by Uber Eats, Grubhub, or DoorDash

Photo by Corbett Lee
Photo by Corbett Lee
Photo by Corbett Lee

Izakaya Sozai

Inner Sunset
Every other restaurant opening in town these days calls itself an “izakaya” but Sozai was an original years ago. Usually there is only one ramen on the menu-the ritsu tonkotsu ramen-unless there’s a special in which case you’d hope the chicken tsukemen (egg noodle with chicken meatball, kaiware, egg) was on that chalkboard menu, but during COVID times you can get the tsukemen any time you want, or from 5 pm to 8 pm, Tuesday through Saturday, annyway. Before the Mensho’s and Ippudo’s of San Francisco, this was the city’s most talked-about ramen. It still is one of the best, being a tad less fatty-rich than its tonkotsu peers, which invites adding braised pork belly and an egg as a garnish to fully round it out.
How to order: Call or text 415-371-9721 to place your order

Courtesy of Orenchi Beyond
Courtesy of Orenchi Beyond
Courtesy of Orenchi Beyond

Orenchi Beyond

Duboce Triangle/Mission
In the olden days (pre-2015 opening of Orenchi Beyond), procuring a bowl of this popular ramen involved a one hour drive to Santa Clara, followed by a two to three hour wait for the best ramen in the Bay Area at older sister Orenchi, with another hour drive back to SF. Now, you can get it every day with just a quick jaunt to the northern end of Valencia. Orenchi Beyond truly is tonkotsu perfection, somehow porkier than all the other bowls on this list. Unless you’re going for the vegan curry tan-tan ramen, there’s just one decision here: “regular” (shio) or “beyond” (shoyu). Be sure to order some spicy chicken karaage to get the fun started. 
How to order: Order online for pickup

Courtesy of Hinodeya Ramen SF
Courtesy of Hinodeya Ramen SF
Courtesy of Hinodeya Ramen SF

Hinodeya

Japantown 
Many San Francisco ramen fans learned about dashi broths from this ramen shop’s specialty: fish stock-based broths singing with an almost uni meets caviar-umami seafaring profile. It’s simultaneously nuanced and thrilling, clearly meticulously produced, and the perfect pairing with whole-wheat noodles and chashu pork. Everybody is so focused on the house scallop dashi ramen that it’s easy to overlook the also excellent “zen ramen” (a vegan ramen bowl with a white soy sauce broth), inspired by traditional shoujin temple techniques, and tori paitan (chicken and pork dashi broth), both of which are excellent options, especially since scallops don’t always travel well.
How to order: Call 415-216-5011 for takeout orders or get it delivered by Uber Eats, Grubhub, or Postmates

Courtesy of Iza Ramen
Courtesy of Iza Ramen
Courtesy of Iza Ramen

Iza Ramen

Lower Haight
Tsukemen is dipping ramen that involves two bowls: one with an intensely meaty broth and pork slices, and the other with thicker noodles to dip into the broth, which frankly, we’re almost convinced might be the route every ramen should take. But, Iza’s namesake ramen, which only comes in one bowl containing a fascinating mixed broth made of all of the best ramen broth worlds (tonkotsu, chicken, bonito, AND vegetable) is also pretty great. Guess you’ll just have to try both.
How to order: Order online or call 415-926-8173 for takeout, or get delivery from Uber Eats or Doordash

Courtesy of Nojo Ramen Tavern
Courtesy of Nojo Ramen Tavern
Courtesy of Nojo Ramen Tavern

Nojo Ramen Tavern

Hayes Valley
Previously a loveable independent izakaya with a particularly outstanding chicken ramen, Nojo was purchased a few years ago by a giant Japanese restaurant corporation and became their first US restaurant, with the same name. Don’t hold that against it though because the four ramens on the menu are consistently phenomenal. Whether you opt for a soy version with slow-braised whole chicken leg or tan-tan spicy miso with ground chicken, or even the veggie miso, every bowl is an absolute winner.
How to order: Walk-up to order takeout or get it delivered by Doordash, Grubhub, or Uber Eats

 

Courtesy of THE SPICE JAR
Courtesy of THE SPICE JAR
Courtesy of THE SPICE JAR

The Spice Jar

Mission
One of the finest ramen spots is also a terrific place for pho, laksa, and fried rice. This could probably explain how the ramen can get lost in the shuffle when discussing “best ramen” in the city. If you’re determined to stick with the former (which is a great choice), there are four options: spicy sesame miso with ground chicken, tonkotsu-shoyu with braised pork belly and spinach, vegetarian sesame miso, and squid ink seafood. They’re all a bit on the restrained side without much in the way of elaborate accents (save for the squid ink seafood which comes with clams, shrimp, and calamari in a squid ink broth), but there’s no shortage of flavor in either broth, especially if you punch a bowl up with a $1 spice shot. Feeling crazy? Go for a double.
How to order: Order for delivery or pickup Caviar

21 Taste House 

Ingleside 
For quite possibly the most interesting ramen variation in SF, head towards the Balboa Park BART station. Just a few blocks away is this laidback ramen favorite featuring a fascinating signature curveball for delighted ramen bowls: traditional pork-based ramen with a hefty dose of lobster in the broth. It’s nothing like lobster bisque if that’s what you’re thinking; rather, it’s a wonderfully balanced surf and turf marriage that hums with pork-centric umami and lobster-infused sea brine. For good measure, the lobster “house specialty” ramens come topped with a deep-fried soft-shell crab, which turns out is the greatest soup garnish ever (forget about those oyster crackers in clam chowder). But if that’s a little too adventurous for you, 21 Taste House offers more traditional ramen styles as well.
How to order: Order delivery or pickup from Postmates or DoorDash.Sign up here for our daily San Francisco email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun SF has to offer.

Trevor Felch is Zagat’s SF Bay Area editor. He probably shouldn’t check his sodium levels after researching this article. Follow him on Twitter @TrevorFelch.

Daisy Barringer is an SF-based writer whose life was changed forever after her first slurp of ramen at a restaurant in Japantown when she was eight years old. Follow her on Instagram @daisysf to see what else she’s eating during COVID (hint: It’s pretty much everything).

San Francisco

How to Celebrate Black History Month in San Francisco

Support and celebrate SF's Black community.

Courtesy of Black Joy Parade
Courtesy of Black Joy Parade
Courtesy of Black Joy Parade

Though it’s something we need to be doing every day of every month of every year, Black History Month encourages us to pay tribute to the struggles and oppression generations of Black Americans have faced, as well as their often-neglected triumphs and achievements that have helped shape this county and make it better. It’s a time to reflect on how we can do better to confront racism and oppression, which this year’s theme, “Black Resistance,” echoes. This is especially important in a town like San Francisco, where the Fillmore District was known as “the Harlem of the West” before the city displaced a vast portion of the neighbourhood’s Black community in the ’60s and ’70s. This displacement continues today, as the Black population is the only racial group that has declined in every census since 1970.

If you’re looking for ways to celebrate Black History Month, there are lots to do. Whether you want to educate yourself by attending films, performances, or conversations, share the joy at a parade or dance party, or do a little bit of it all at a drag show, here are just a few ways you can get involved and have a lot of fun while doing so:

Visit San Francisco Public Library branches for workshops, films, performances, and more

February (and throughout the year)
Library branches and online
SFPL’s “More Than a Month” celebration focuses on the theme of resistance this year. Family-friendly and adult events include film screenings, musical performances, book clubs, workshops, and more.
Cost: Free

Museum of African Diaspora
Museum of African Diaspora
Museum of African Diaspora

See art, poetry, films, talks, and more at MoAD

February (and throughout the year)
SoMa
Right now, at the Museum of African Diaspora, you can see the first and only West Coast exhibition of “The New Black Vanguard: Photography Between Art and Fashion,” which highlights the work of 15 contemporary fashion designers “whose images present radically new perspectives on the medium of photography and art, race and beauty, and gender and power.” The museum, which has a robust year-round program and event calendar, has a slew of events to attend, including youth poetry readings, film screenings, open mic nights, book clubs, artist talks, and more.
Cost: Event prices vary; GA to visit the museum is $12 but free every second Saturday of the month

Check out films, art, reading, talks, and more at BAMPFA

February (and throughout the year)
Berkeley
There is always something interesting to discover at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA). During Black History Month, you can see films by Pratibha Parmar, “Felwine Sarr: Music, Freedom, Africa,” a conversation through music with the Senegalese writer, scholar, composer, musician, and more.
Cost: Varies

Old Skool Cafe
Old Skool Cafe
Old Skool Cafe

Enjoy menu specials honoring Black community members at Old Skool Cafe

February (and throughout the year)
Bayview
For Black History Month, Old Skool Cafe is adding the favourite meals of notable Black community members to the menu each weekend. The nonprofit, youth-run supper club helps at-risk, formerly incarcerated, and foster care youth ages 16-22 gain the skills and experience they need to succeed in various front and back-of-house restaurant roles. Bayview hero/community advocate Mrs. Dorris Vincent is first up, followed by Judge Trina Thompson, Delroy Lindo, and Mayor London Breed.

Yerba Buena Gardens
Yerba Buena Gardens
Yerba Buena Gardens

Walk beneath the Marting Luther King, Jr. Memorial waterfall

February (and ongoing)
Yerba Buena Gardens
Did you know that Yerba Buena Gardens is home to the country’s second-largest memorial to Dr. King? Visit the sculptural waterfall featuring glass panels inscribed with his inspiring words at 750 Howard Street.
Cost: Free

Attend the Commonwealth’s “Dreaming Forward: A Celebration of Black Joy, Power, and Excellence” conference

Thursday, February 9
Embarcadero
On behalf of Dr. Sheryl Evans Davis and the San Francisco Human Rights Commission, the Commonwealth Club is hosting its second annual Dream Keeper Initiative, a day-long conference/celebration/call-to-action featuring special guests, including April Ryan of TheGrio and CNN.
Cost: Free

Courtesy of Oakland First Fridays
Courtesy of Oakland First Fridays
Courtesy of Oakland First Fridays

Celebrate Black Love at Oakland First Fridays

Friday, February 10
Telegraph Avenue from West Grand to 27th Street
Telegraph Avenue transforms into a dining, shopping, and art-appreciating party on Friday, February 10, from 5 pm to 9 pm. There will be food, artist, and retail vendors and a host of Black artists, authors, and entertainment. Please note: This event was rescheduled from February 3 because of potential rain.
Cost: Free

Have a ball at an all-Black drag show at Oasis

Friday, February 10
SoMa
“Reparations with Latrice Royale” is an all-Black drag show hosted by Latrice Royale, the beloved Drag Race star who also happens to be celebrating her birthday.
Cost: $15 to $60

Dance all night and shop all day at the Afro Soca Love carnival and marketplace

Friday, February 10 ‚Äď Saturday, February 11
341 13th Street, Oakland
Afro Soca Love creates experiences that act as a “gateway to building bonds and strengthen relationships-between communities, individuals, and Africa and its diaspora.” See for yourself at the all-ages marketplace (Saturday), where you’ll find food and drink, fashion, beauty and wellness, home decor, and more. But before the shopping comes the dancing at the 21+ Friday Night Carnival, a culturally immersive music experience with music from all over the world.
Cost: The marketplace is free; tickets to the Friday Night Carnival start at $20

See a live performance of “Words That Made the Difference: Brown vs. the Board of Education”

Saturday, February 11
Unity Palo Alto
See a live theatrical performance based on the true events that occurred in the fight to end school segregation. The script draws from trial transcripts of the five cases brought together in front of the Supreme Court and Chief Justice Earl Warren’s memoirs, and the play is set in the courtrooms where it all happened. There will be a Q&A with the playwright before the performance and the cast afterward.
Cost: Free

Courtesy of San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Company
Courtesy of San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Company
Courtesy of San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Company

Go to the I, Too, Sing America album release party

Saturday, February 11
Mission
Head to the Brava Theater Center to celebrate the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Company’s album release of the music created for I, Too, Sing America, a soulful and uplifting performance that moved audiences when it debuted last year. The night includes an album-listening and sing-along party, DJs, dancing, an open bar, and more.
Cost: $40

Go on the Black Liberation Walking Tour of West Oakland

Saturday, February 18
West Oakland
Take a walk with David Peters, founder of the West Oakland Cultural Action Network, and Gene Anderson, the author of Legendary Locals of Oakland, to learn about resident voices and document sites of cultural and historical significance in the neighbourhood. Peters is a local native, and Anderson is an Oakland historian whose family has historical roots in West Oakland.
Cost: $50 ($30 for West Oakland residents)

See a screening of The Black Kung Fu Experience followed by in-person demonstrations

Sunday, February 19
Great Star Theater, Chinatown
The Chinese Historical Society of America is celebrating Black History Month and social unity with a screening of this film about how a group of African American pioneers became respected in a subculture dominated by Chinese and white men. Afterward, there will be demonstrations and talks with Sifu Donald Hamby and Sifu Troy Dunwood, who “will speak about their success as internationally recognized martial arts masters, their Chinese Kung Fu teachers, and what this practice means in relation to diversity, race and inclusion issues.”
Cost: $15

Sip wine made by Black winemakers at a free tasting event at STEM Kitchen + Garden

Thursday, February 23
Dogpatch
STEM Kitchen + Garden is hosting an afternoon wine tasting celebrating Black-owned wineries in its gorgeous indoor/outdoor space, and best of all, and it’s free to the public!
Cost: Free

Bayview Opera House
Bayview Opera House
Bayview Opera House

Attend the San Francisco African American Arts & Cultural District Gala Fundraiser

Saturday, February 25
Bayview Opera House
Enjoy an evening of talent, fashion, and community inspiration at SFAAACD’s 1st Annual Gala Fundraiser. Carla Duke, Television News Director at CBS-KPIX Chanel 5, will host the event, which includes inspiring words from keynote speaker Aniyia Williams, an artist, tech creator, and system-preneur.
Cost: $100

Attend a Black History Month & Chinese New Year Poetry Reading on Angel Island

Saturday, February 25
Angel Island
There is so much history in poetry at the Angel Island Detention Barracks Museum, which makes it a fitting location for poets Chun Yu and Michael Warr. The co-founders of Two Languages/One Community will share their poems and stories in English and Chinese, accompanied by projected images of text and photographs.
Cost: $10 to $21

Courtesy of Black Joy Parade
Courtesy of Black Joy Parade
Courtesy of Black Joy Parade

Feel the joy at the Black Joy Parade

Sunday, February 26
Downtown Oakland
This parade and festival celebrate the “Black experience past, present, and future.” Be prepared to experience “more Black joy than you ever imagined,” starting with the parade (beginning at 14th and Franklin) at 12:30 pm. The family-friendly festival follows (main entrance is at 19th and Franklin) will include 200-plus Black-owned small businesses selling food, drinks, clothing, art, and more. There will also be two stages with Black performers, including The Black Joy Choir.
Cost: Free

Take a sound bath at Grace Cathedral in honor of Black History Month

Monday, February 27
Nob Hill
Take an immersive sound bath featuring Fractals of Sound, a collective of top Bay Area musicians Egemen Sanli, Phoenix Song, and Sam Jackson, with special guest Destiny Muhammad. Together, they will create a “soundscape deeply rooted in world music,” allowing you to take a meditative journey in one of the most beautiful places in San Francisco.
Cost: $25 to $75

See Tsitsi Dangarembga and Angela Davis at City Arts & Lectures

Tuesday, February 28
Civic Center
Co-presented with MoAd, City Arts & Lectures is hosting novelist Tsitsi Dangarembga and scholar and activist Angela Davis for what’s sure to be a riveting conversation.
Cost: $36

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Daisy Barringer¬†is an SF-based freelance writer who spent many childhood days wandering around the Exploratorium. Follow her on¬†Instagram¬†to see what she’s up to now.

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