It’s foggy. It’s cold. It’s August, and you’re wearing shorts. Quick! Get thee to a noodle dish! It’s the only thing that will warm your bones. Good news is that San Francisco is full of delicious options for warming up any time of the year. Here’s our map to the best ramen, pho, and plain delicious noodle soups in the city.
Neighborhood: Financial District
101 California St.
Even if you’re gluten intolerant, there is still a ramen option for you in this city. But let’s be real—you’re going for the full-fledged Hakkaido miso broth ramen piled with corn, chashu and a soy-cured egg. The ginger chicken ramen is also a noble choice. But beware that this is ramen on the run. Located in the center of the financial district, it’s a lunchtime hot spot, which means you’re in and out and full of ramen.
Neighborhood: North Beach
1310 Grant Ave.
2205 Lombard St.
It’s so foggy you can’t even see the top of Coit Tower, it’s time for Chubby Noodle. This hip restaurant serves up all sorts of soul-warming fare from their Chubby Fried Chicken to Korean Pork Tacos (order both). But it's their spicy garlic noodles made with three simple ingredients (egg noodles, garlic, and jalapeños). Slurp them up alongside a shot of their sake labeled “Great Idea, Trust Us” on the menu. It is indeed, a great idea.
Neighborhood: The Mission
3378 18th St.
Ken Ken Ramen is about more than just serving you that delicious bowl of warmth. It’s going to transport you. With a ceiling covered in Chinese lanterns and stark concrete walls with reclaimed wood bars, this Mission hotspot feels like an alley halfway between Toyko and Bangkok. And the food is just as good: tantan ramen is a bowl of spicy miso broth with pork and all the fixings topped with fresh green onions and sesame seeds. For warning: there will be a line, but luckily the Mission is one of the less foggy neighborhoods.
Neighborhood: Financial District
505 Washington St.
Sometimes it’s even foggy on your lunch break. Yes, it’s never-ending. Luckily, Sai’s provides liquid salvation! You’ll be seated and served hot tea at the speed of the new office printer and expected to order almost just as quickly. Luckily, you don’t need a lot of time to debate—go for the chicken pho in all its simple, salty glory. Don’t have a lunch buddy? Not a problem. Sai’s will squeeze you in, but just know that your table might not be yours alone.
Neighborhood: The Richmond
3936 Balboa St.
It’s build your own ramen bowl at this tiny hole-in-the-wall. Pick your broth, your meat, and your toppings (including corn, bok choy and pork belly). Start the meal off with small warm, salted edamame and order some warm sake to get the blood flowing.
1740 Buchanan St.
This no frills Japantown joint has a ramen menu that goes on for pages. Try the ground pork or indulge in the wonton ramen then bask in some good people watching while sipping a Sapporo beer.
Neighborhood: Union Square
55 Cyrl Magnin
Hard to argue with housemade pad thai. And if they don’t make their shrimp paste twenty feet from where you’re eating it at least they’re sourcing it straight from Thailand (looking at you, shrimp paste) or from California farms. You’re run-of-the-mill Thai restaurant this is not. Dry-fried pork ribs with a yellow curry paste fall off the bone while mussels and nectarine curry will give a pleasant surprise to your taste buds. But we’re here for the noodles, remember? Kin Khao does pad kee mao right with ground pork, drunken and rice noodles, onions, bell peppers and a healthy dose of holy basil.
Neighborhood: Inner Sunset
1500 Irving St.
Everyone loves Izakaya Sozai. It’s been written about by nearly every major news outlet in San Francisco as well as those hailing from Tokyo. (that’s when you know it’s really good). Come for a bowl Tonkastu ramen brimming with noodles, scallions and healthy chunks of seaweed in a silky broth that will warm your soul.
1638 Post St.
Seek shelter on fog-riddled Post Street for a hot, salty bowl of tonkusku ramen. This restaurant hits all the right notes: dark bamboo paneling contrasts with mustard yellow paint with string lights hanging above and intimate two-seat tables throughout. If it sounds romantic that’s because it is. Feel free to snuggle up and indulge—it is cold out there.
Neighborhood: The Sunset
1816 Irving St.
It’s a long name that you won’t be able to read it from the outside, but you’ll know is the place by the crowds slurping up noodles inside. Come hungry and order the curry chicken noodle soup, which comes in a coconut milk broth spiced with green curry seasonings and thick, long noodles.