Even if it's warm out, there's something nourishing about a steaming bowl of ramen (but it also can't be beat in the dead of winter). Boston keeps getting more worthy destinations for this revered hot, slurpy noodle soup. Whether it's a no-frills joint that focuses on one style of ramen (and does it well) or a higher-end, more modern take, Boston has it. You’ll find Jiro style, Sapporo style, and ramens with a twist. For other Asian specialties, check out Boston's best sushi, Boston's best Japanese restaurants, or the best Chinese restaurants in Boston.
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Best ramen in Boston
The Back Bay location of this Japanese chain is a prime spot for students and tourists to get a fast, nourishing bowl of ramen. The signature tonkatsu is made by simmering pork bones for 20 hours, resulting in a deeply flavorful broth. Santouka also offers the lesser-known toroniku ramen, made with pork cheek meat. The vegetarian option—featuring menma kikurage mushrooms, soy marinated wheat gluten, and umeboshi—is also a worthy choice.
This tiny Cambridge ramen spot is as authentic as they come. From the cheerful shouts of “Irashaimase!” to welcome each customer, to the singular focus on Jiro-style ramen, you’ll almost feel like you’re in Japan. Huge bowls of ramen feature thick, house-made noodles, and your only choice is whether you want two pieces of pork or five. If you manage to finish your bowl, you’ll be congratulated with a “We have a perfect!” The restaurant’s name means “talk about your dreams,” so go ahead and chat with strangers and the communal tables, and you may even be asked to share your dreams and goals out loud with everyone.
With locations in NYC and Taipei, Totto Ramen sports some serious cred. The paitan-style ramen is thick and hearty, with house-made noodles. The broth is chicken-based, rather than pork, with miso and spicy options available. Get your bowl with char siu pork or chicken. (There’s also a vegetarian version with a seaweed and shitake base.) Customize your bowl with toppings like spicy bamboo shoots, kikurage mushroom, or a seasoned boiled egg. If you’re really hungry, go for the oversized mega ramen that includes all the pork variations.
Tucked away in Coolidge Corner’s Arcade Building, this tiny shop serves Sapporo-style ramen. Pick a spot at one of the few tables or choose a counter seat to watch the chefs at work. The simple menu includes miso, shoyo, shio, and tan tan options. The broth is made with both chicken and pork, eliciting rich flavors. Ganko is dedicated to the Sapporo-style of wok-made ramen, and their expertise shows in every delicious, filling bowl.
Open since 1990, Sapporo is still a top choice for a quick bowl of satisfying ramen when you’re hungry and in a hurry. You can have a seat, but with just bar seats and benches, it’s better on the go. Despite the small environs and affordable prices, you’ll find a surprisingly extensive menu featuring a choice of ramen soup base—soy sauce, miso, spicy miso, curry, and more—with toppings ranging from ground pork to veggies. Expect a line, but the ramen is worth it.
Chef Tracy Chang helmed the ramen pop-up Guchi’s Midnight Ramen, and her famed bowl is now on the menu here at Pagu alongside modern Japanese small plates. House-made alkaline noodles rest in a bowl filled with flavorful broth, pork belly, umami oil, nori, and a six-minute egg. Enjoy this satisfying bowl in a sleek-yet-comfortable space in buzzy Central Square.
Uni is known for its standout sashimi program and inventive Japanese creations. The pricey regular menu is well worth it, but Tony Messina and Ken Oringer’s late night (11pm-1:30am) ramen menu—available only on Friday and Saturday nights—is a more affordable way to experience their delicious talents. Alongside a few small bites, the ramen choices typically include a traditional shoyu-miso option with pork or a vegetarian version, both richly-flavored. The menu (hand-written on cardboard) changes up every so often, and you might find an inventive version like XO squid ramen or ramen with eel. If you’re hungry for ramen after-hours, find out why Uni’s version has developed a cult following.
Subtitled “Slurp-and-Go,” Oisa has only 9 seats and no ramen takeout, so expect to grab a bowl, sit, enjoy, and move on. Chef Moe Kuroki’s tonkatsu gained fame through her previous pop-up. It’s on the menu alongside two vegan shoyu options: smoky (with shitake, mesclun, and red pepper) and truffle (with truffled mushrooms, shitake, mesclun, red pepper, and a soy egg).
Tim and Nancy Cushman's hipster izakaya at the modish Verb Hotel gets creative with maki rolls, robata, a large-format tiki drink menu, and off-the-wall dishes like the bacon-wrapped, jalapeno-stuffed Doggzilla hot dog. Chef Rob Wong's ramen is equally edgy, featuring a 48 hour chicken broth. Choose from the Funky Chicken (soy egg, menma, robata grilled koji chicken) or the Spicy Miso (hatcho miso, spicy pork, corn tempura, menma, soy egg).
House-made noodles are the centerpiece at this hip-hop sibling of Shojo. Ruckus offers several classic ramen options with modern, tasty twists. Miso “Lit” ramen includes grilled corn and shaved nori. Tori paitan comes with fried chicken skin. Shoryuken has marinated yuba (tofu skin). All options are exciting as-is, but feel free to personalize your bowl with additions from the “Swag” list—soy egg, pig tail, smoked bone marrow butter, "ruckus paste,” and more.
Head to Newton for bold, flavorful ramen selections. Alongside rice bowls and pan-Asian small plates, the ramen list is a major draw. Choose from paitan, miso, shoyu, or a seasonal option (e.g. pumpkin). Each bowl comes with ingredients like wood ear mushroom, pickled bamboo shoots and white kimchi, and add-ons are available. If you just can’t decide what to order, the “Chef’s Ultra Ramen” provides a substantial combo.
This no-frills Davis Square spot has a small but varied menu that includes sushi, gyoza, buns, and a few salads. The ramen offerings include shoyu, spicy, miso, and tan tan, all with a rich tonkatsu broth. Tan tan is a favorite, with pulled pork garlic miso and flavorful black garlic oil. The veggie version includes shiitake broth, bean sprouts, scallion, baby arugula, marinated shiitake, and tofu skin.