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Tantan-san Ramen at Ramen-San
Photograph: Morgan Goss

Where to find vegetarian ramen in Chicago

Want to enjoy a delicious bowl of noodles, minus the meat? We've found Chicago's best vegan and vegetarian ramen.

Written by
Shanti Chu
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Ramen is a quintessential comfort food—just tuck into a bowl served by some of the best restaurants in Chicago on a cold day if you need proof. Hot broth, luscious noodles and a vast array of toppings make this a dish that's appealing to many different palates. While meat- and seafood-based bowls are common among the best ramen shops in Chicago, vegan and vegetarian ramen options have been slow to follow. Recently, ramen spots throughout the city have started offering ramen that plant-based eaters can enjoy, complete with super-flavorful broth. Gone are the days when vegetarian ramen means a bland broth with steamed vegetables thrown in. Enjoy these meat-free bowls when you sample the best vegan and vegetarian ramen in Chicago.

Time Out Market Chicago
  • Restaurants
  • West Loop

Chef Bill Kim’s eclectic ramen spot at Time Out Market Chicago takes inspiration from Korean, Vietnamese and Mexican flavors. Vegan and gluten-free diners can enjoy the Korean BBQ Mushroom Ramen with a comforting sesame soy broth base, tofu from Phoenix Bean, radishes, umami mushrooms and scallions. If you get too hot while eating the ramen, try some chilled, blistered shishito peppers served in a ponzu soy sauce.

Best vegan and vegetarian ramen in Chicago

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

You can get some magical Maitake ramen inside of this subterranean ramen institution in the West Loop. Gorge on 'shrooms all night when you order this combination of mushroom miso broth, maitake mushrooms, a seasoned egg (which you can remove if you’re vegan), black garlic, toasted sesame and chewy noodles. Just like every other bowl at High Five, the Maitake can be customized with different levels of spices—from zero heat to face-numbing flames. If your ramen is too spicy, soothe your mouth with a coconut painkiller cocktail slushy.

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

Vegan ramen lovers can get the Tantan-san at all three of Ramen-San’s locations (River North, Fulton Market, and Streeterville). This satiating bowl of ramen boasts a sesame miso broth base with fresh tofu, bok choy, braised crimini mushrooms, chili oil and a scallion garnish. Throw some fried garlic on top for an additional crunch. While you’re waiting for your ramen, sample some Genmai hot tea, a Japanese brown rice green tea that will begin to warm you up before your bowl of noodles arrives. If you are looking for a quick lunch, the Tantan-san is also a part of Ramen-San’s express lunch deal ($15.95), served with a side of vegetable fried rice.

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  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Logan Square

This local ramen chain has provided plant-based ramen options since its inception in 2015, but the veggie-friendly bowls have multiplied and improved with time. This fall, Furious Spoon launched the Veggie Gains, a decadent bowl of spicy miso broth, crispy chili garlic cauliflower, roasted corn, fried shiitake mushroom dumplings and marinated mushrooms that you can slurp while listening to the restaurant’s hip-hop soundtrack. If you can't stand spicy broth, try the Veggie Explosion, which combines a vegan miso broth base with an array of veggies, like chili-marinated cabbage, sauteed ginger carrots, roasted sweet corn and a poached egg.

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

Logan Square’s Ramen Wasabi offers a tantalizing Vegan Tan Tan Men that’s perfect for plant-based eaters. Seitan ragu from local business Upton’s Naturals is incorporated and used as a hearty plant-based protein in a mushroom and seaweed broth, garnished with scallion, bok choy and chili oil. While toothsome vegan buckwheat noodles are served in this bowl, you can also order it with egg noodles. Pro tip: Add the spicy umami flavor booster, which gives the broth a great kick and tastes phenomenal the next day!

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  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Lincoln Park

Flavorful vegetarian ramen doesn’t have to be expensive, and this affordable Hawaiian-based ramen chain is proof. Plant-based eaters have multiple options at Tanaka Ramen in Lincoln Park including a create-your-own ramen (starting at $6), a spicy creamy vegan ramen with atsuage tofu (deep fried tofu) and the vegetarian dan dan man ($12.50 each). You can get kale noodles and a plethora of vegetables, such as bean sprouts, spinach, broccoli and cauliflower. Top it all off with some garlic and chili oil for a bit of extra flavor.

  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Armour Square
  • price 1 of 4

With fresh noodles made in-house using a noodle-maker from Japan, plant-based eaters can get authentic ramen at Strings Ramen, where standards like the Shoyu, Shio, Miso and Hell ramen can all be prepared with vegetarian ingredients. The shop’s menu clearly lays out the different types of ramen, the topping choices and all of the ingredients, which makes it friendly to eaters with food allergies. You can try these ramen bowls at any Strings location including spots in Chinatown, Lakeview and Hyde Park. The vegetable gyoza is a delightful snack to enjoy before you dig into your gigantic bowl of noodles.

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

Innovative and unique ramen concoctions are what this Wicker Park spot is known for. Vegetarians and vegans should order the Veggiemen, which is a hearty and healthy bowl of mixed greens, tofu, peppers, mushrooms and avocado. Add some savory black garlic oil or spicy oil for an extra kick that pairs nicely with the avocado. If you’re really in the mood for adventure, surprise yourself with the suicide spicy paste, a blended combo of 20 different chili peppers, including the ominous ghost pepper. You only need to add a little to your ramen to get the full effect. The fun doesn’t end with the ramen—a mushroom bun with shiitake mushrooms pan seared to perfection is an ideal prelude to the Veggiemen.

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