Get us in your inbox

Search
Strings Ramen
Photograph Martha Williams

The 13 best ramen shops in Chicago

Love noods? The best ramen in Chicago will warm you up when the weather gets cold.

Zach Long
Morgan Olsen
Written by
Zach Long
&
Morgan Olsen
Advertising

When the temperature begins to drop, grabbing a steaming bowl of the best ramen in Chicago is a delicious way to warm up. The traditional Japanese soup is a quintessential comfort food, combining rich broths with chewy noodles and all sorts of decadent toppings. Some of the best restaurants in Chicago serve variations on the dish, adding fried chicken, spicy chili peppers and soft-boiled eggs to the mix. And if you're looking for a meal on a budget, we're happy to report that some bowls rank among the finest cheap eats Chicago—though you can certainly find plenty of pricier, upscale takes on the dish. Want to find a great spot to slurp some noodles? Grab a spoon and some chopsticks and enjoy the best ramen in Chicago with the help of our guide.

RECOMMENDED: Discover more of the best Japanese restaurants in Chicago

Time Out Market Chicago
  • Restaurants
  • West Loop

Steaming bowls of noodles have been a fixture of chef Bill Kim’s menus ever since he opened his first restaurant, and diners have always been eager to slurp his latest creations. Originally launched as a delivery-only concept, Bill Kim Ramen Bar specializes in broths that draw on Korean, Vietnamese and Mexican flavors, garnished with a creative array of toppings. Whether you’re looking for a conventional bowl or ramen or something a bit more adventurous, Kim has something you can enjoy by the spoonful.

Best ramen in Chicago

  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Logan Square
  • price 2 of 4

Even the most brutal Chicago weather can't keep us from venturing outdoors for a bowl of piping-hot soup from this Japanese spot in Logan Square. The ramen here is simple and unembellished, free of the trends and cutesy interpretations finding their way into many of the city’s noodle bowls. The subtly spiced broth is rich and cloudy with pork fat rendered from Berkshire pork bones, made in a time-consuming process that takes over 45 hours. You can't go wrong with the fan-favorite Original, which includes tender pork belly, a soft-boiled egg, bamboo shoots, 'shrooms and garlic oil.

  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • River North
  • price 2 of 4

A meal at Ramen-San usually starts with an order of buns or dumplings, but regulars know that these appetizers are just the opening act. The restaurant's Tokyo-style wavy noodles meet their match in unconventional ingredients like fried chicken and buttered corn. Vegetarians dig the Tantan-San with a veg-based broth, cremini mushrooms, bok choy and chunks of tofu. Better yet is the fact that you can upgrade any bowl with a menu of add-ons, like fried garlic, spicy sesame chili, chashu pork or wontons.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • West Loop
  • price 2 of 4

This teeny-tiny hidden oasis under Green Street Smoked Meats in the West Loop is usually impossible to get into. But for the time being, High Five is sticking to takeout and delivery service, which means that it's easier than ever to get your hands on a bowl of its tonkotsu or maitake ramen. Diners can adjust the heat level on both options, opting for full, half or quarter spice—all of which flaunt a satisfyingly painful burn. Cleanse your palate with a can of Sapporo, Asahi or sake.

  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Sheffield & DePaul

A small, unassuming Japanese restaurant just off the bustling Halsted Street corridor in Lincoln Park, Kameya offers a mighty selection of sushi—but that shouldn't stop you from ordering the ramen. The bowls here sport a buttery yet surprisingly light broth, garnished with your choice of pork belly, bulgogi beef, chicken katsu or gyoza dumplings. A simple array of cabbage, green onions and an egg add some other flavors to the mix, but the simplicity of these bowls is what makes them so appealing.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Wicker Park

With outposts in New City and Wicker Park, this global ramen chain aims to bring the traditional Japanese experience to Chicago through its robust menu of flavor-packed ramen creations that are totally customizable (it's easy to add toppings or opt for a low-sodium broth). Keep it simple with the garlic tonkotsu with pork broth or go all in with the tsukemen, a deconstructed ramen variation that is presented with a separate bowl of broth for dipping.

  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Logan Square

With locations in Logan Square and Lakeview, this laidback ramen emporium wins when it comes to customization. Simply choose a chef-crafted ramen bowl, add toppings, and slurp quickly—that's the key to ramen consumption, according to chef Shin Thompson. First timers will dig the Tokyo shoyu bowl with tonkotsu broth, soy, pork belly, mushrooms, cabbage, nori and naruto. If you’re looking for something a bit more adventurous, go with the namesake Furious bowl, a miso-based broth with lip-numbing heat that burns without being overwhelming.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Bridgeport

When you slurp the broth at this Bridgeport ramen shop, you're tasting the product of hours of simmering (nine hours for the pork broth, six for the chicken). This time-consuming approach to cooking is what gives the bowls at E Ramen their rich flavors, which are best appreciated in their unadulterated classic configurations. But if you're looking for something a bit more interesting, a variety of spicy ramen options ratchet up the heat, while the niku ramen adds some acidity to the dish in the form of a ginger pickle. E Ramen's chicken wings, sushi rolls and Tokyo curry bowls don't disappoint, but we recommend eating your way through the broth-y noodle bowls first.

  • Restaurants
  • West Loop

When a popular ramen chain from Canada set up shop in the West Loop, we raised our eyebrows in interest. But Kinton had us at first slurp. The Toronto import's menu is sorted by base, with pork, chicken, karaage (fried chicken) and vegetarian bowls. Forgo tradition and spring for the fried chicken variety, which is topped with perfectly crisp poultry and scallions and served with shoyu or spicy broth (go with the latter). Maybe Canadians know a thing or two about ramen after all.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Wicker Park
  • price 1 of 4

This Wicker Park ramen shop puts its 18-hour pork stock and chewy, house-made noodles to good use in imaginative creations like the Pozolmen with pork loin, jalapeños, red onion and tomato. Get funkier still with the Tikkamen, which is dripping in masala and sesame flavors and filled with tender bits of chicken and bean sprouts. No order is complete without a few buns to share, and with options like tempura cod and duck breast, there's something for everyone in your crew.

  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Bridgeport

Nicknamed the "Midnight Diner," this Bridgeport restaurant stays open until 1:30am most nights of the week, serving affordable eats and an impressive lineup of ramen. The yuzu-chicken variety boasts a citrus-laced broth, grilled chicken and wood ear mushrooms, while the tomato-vegetable ramen spotlights matcha noodles and stir-fried produce. There's mochi on the dessert menu, but we prefer to treat ourselves to the taiyaki, a fish-shaped cake with red bean filling.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • West Loop
  • price 1 of 4

This Fulton Market spot (a sister restaurant to Ramen Wasabi) dishes out paitan and shoyu ramen in big bowls filled with umami-rich broth. Takeya’s chewy egg noodles complement hunks of tender pork belly, making the Tokyo Classic shoyu an easy favorite. There’s even a vegan option on the menu, with seitan ragu in a mushroom-seaweed broth. Wash it all down with smooth Japanese whiskey over ice or a classic, crisp Sapporo.

Find the best ramen in America

Recommended

    More on cheap eats

      You may also like
        Advertising