It’s 'Karl the Fog' cold and you’re wearing shorts because it's August. Noodles are the only thing that will warm your bones. Good news, because San Francisco is full of delicious noodle options that are perfect for raising inner temperatures any time of year. Ready to dine? Here's our guide to the best ramen, pho, and plain delicious noodle soups in the city.
Even if you’re gluten intolerant, there is still a ramen option for you in this city. The Raman Bar offers gluten-free noodles on request, as well as a selection of various bowls of ramen, poke, and udon selections. Popular favorites include the Hakkaido, featuring miso broth and ramen piled high with corn, chashu and a soy-cured egg; and the ginger chicken ramen—though be aware that this is ramen on the run. While there's plenty of seating available, its Financial District location, on the cusp of the Embarcadero, makes it a prime hot-spot for the weekday lunch crowd, meaning many customers are in and out in a hurry.
When Karl the Fog rolls his way across the city and manages to wrap himself around Coit Tower, a visit to Chubby Noodle in North Beach (and with a second location in the Marina District) is the perfect cool weather remedy. This hip, music-pumping eatery noodle house serves all sorts of soul-warming fare, from their Chubby Fried Chicken to Korean Pork Tacos. However, it's their spicy garlic noodles—made with only egg noodles, garlic, and jalapeños—that really and truly satisfy. Slurp them up alongside a shot of sake. It's a great idea...trust us.
When it's even foggy on your lunch break, Sai’s (in the shadow of the Transamerica Pyramid) provides delicious bowls of culinary salvation. The staff will seat and serve you hot tea at the speed of a brand new office printer and expect you to order just as quickly. Thankfully, you don't need a lot of time to pour over the menu at this bare-bones Vietnamese establishment: The chicken pho, in all its simple, salty glory, is definitely where it's at. A heads-up if you're dining solo: Sharing your table is an expected part of the experience.
It’s build your own ramen bowl at this tiny Japanese food hole-in-the-wall in San Francisco's perennially foggy Outer Richmond. Pick your broth, choose your meat, and select your toppings from items like corn, bok choy and pork belly, then savor an order of salted edamame and some warm sake (to get the blood flowing) while you wait.
It's hard to find fault with a delicious helping of house-made pad Thai, especially one that utilizes ingredients both locally sourced and sustainable and with fish sauce sourced straight from Thailand. This Michelin-starred eatery is tucked inside the Parc 55 Hilton in SF's Union Square, right near the Powell St. Cable Car Turnaround, and is 100% worth finding. Dishes like dry-fried pork ribs with yellow curry paste fall off the bone while mussels and nectarine curry ignite taste buds, and the noodles? Kin Khao does pad kee mao right with a mix of ground pork, drunken and rice noodles, onions, bell peppers and basil. Holy wow!
Everyone loves Izakaya Sozai in the city's Outer Sunset neighborhood, including most major news outlets in the San Francisco Bay Area and those hailing from Tokyo. While small plates of battered takoyaki and garlic sautéed shishito peppers are in-house favorites, nothing beats a bowl of steaming tonkastu: ramen brimming with noodles, scallions and healthy chunks of seaweed in a silky, long-cooking broth that will easily warm your soul.
Seek shelter from the fog with a visit to Japantown's Waraku, where hot, salty bowls of tonkusku ramen reign supreme. It's a place that's romantic as it is stylish: sporting dark bamboo and mustard yellow decor, strung lights, and cozy two-top tables placed throughout. Snuggle up and indulge in offerings like spicy Tan-Tan noodles and Shoyu ramen with a soy sauce broth. Then, if you're ready to brave the chill, peruse the shops along Fillmore Street.
Just look for the crowds slurping noodles inside to find this heartily-named place (though it goes by Pho Phu Quoc or PPQ for short) in the Sunset avenues en route to Ocean Beach, and then prepare to fill up on orders of curry chicken noodle soup, served with thick, long noodles in a coconut milk broth spiced with green curry seasonings, beef tendon pho, and five-spiced chicken and garlic noodles with generous helpings of fowl. This place fills up quickly, so arrive earlier in the evening to avoid a wait.
With locations in both San Francisco (between Pacific Heights and Japantown) and Oakland, Marufuku has been delighting noodle lovers with a selection of authentic, Hakata-style tonkotsu ramen that utilize ultra-thin artisan noodles and can be made-to-order, according to your preference for spiciness and noddle firmness. With only 15 orders per day, Marufuku's bowls of Chicken Daitan DX (chicken ramen with rich white “Paitan” broth) sell out fast, but the restaurant's other options are as equally tasty. Extra toppings range from fish powder to nori seaweed and bean sprouts.