Totally Chicken ramen at Mu Ramen
Photograph: Paul WagtouiczMu Ramen

The 12 best ramen restaurants in America

Love the Japanese soup-noodle phenomenon? Then behold, broth-heads: the best ramen in America, from tonkotsu to mazeman.

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Few dishes are as comforting as a hot bowl of ramen. Tender noodles, rich broths, savory meat and perfectly cooked soft-boiled eggs—what more could you want? While the exact origins of ramen are debated, it's generally thought to have its roots in 19th-century China before it evolved throughout Japan into the dish it is today.

Until relatively recently, however, many Americans thought ramen was those cheap, sodium-filled dried noodle packs perfect for a college student's budget and palate. We're happy to say that reputation has changed, and the proliferation of ramen shops across the country has introduced the real dish to the American palate similar to the journey sushi took in the U.S. decades ago.

Chefs across the country continue to put their own creative spins on ramen. Whether your go-to order is classic tonkotsu and miso or you prefer more innovative fusion creations, we’ve rounded up the best places across the country to enjoy a steaming bowl of ramen from the East to West coasts—and a few options in between.

Best ramen in the USA

  • Japanese
  • Wooten

The restaurant that sparked Austin’s ramen craze remains the city’s top noodle-slinger, thanks to its extraordinarily intense broth. Former DJs Tatsu Aikawa and Takuya Matsumoto craft a tonkotsu that requires three days’ worth of cook time, resulting in a luscious pork bone elixir that clings to each angel-hair-thin noodle (like many of the nation’s top ramen joints, the custom strands come from revered producer Sun Noodle). Meltingly tender chashu (thin-sliced pork), snappy woodear mushrooms and a marinated egg finish carefully composed bowls.

  • Japanese
  • Sawtelle

Much digital ink has been spilled over Tsujita’s tsukemen: how kurobuta pork bones are simmered for no less than 60 hours to create the dipping broth; how the noodles are thick, toothy, dense; and how ramen is served only at lunch, so that the wait for a seat can fluctuate between tolerable and formidable (unless you’re dining solo, in which case, you’ll be seated at the counter in no more than 15 minutes). Suffice to say, in a rare instance of hype living up to reality, all that ink bleeds true—this is the best tsukemen in the city. This West L.A. spot’s noodle bowl is the one to which you’ll forever compare all others, much to your chagrin. Put your name down. And wait…and wait. It’ll be worth it.

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  • San Mateo

Japan native Kazunori Kobayashi runs a mini ramen empire in the Bay Area, where each spot specializes in a different type of broth. Here, the spotlight shines on spicy stamina in three styles: miso, shoyu and a standout tonkotsu. The sumptuous pork variation is intensely satisfying, amped up with roasted garlic, red pepper threads and Ramen Dojo’s signature chicken gravy—essentially a Japanese meat sauce that’s pure comfort-food gold.

  • H Street Corridor

To form the slurp-worthy bowls at his H Street hangout, chef Erik Bruner-Yang sought inspiration from travels across East Asia. While the broths—concocted from a constantly-simmering mother stock—are decidedly Japanese, other components come courtesy of the Nippon nation’s multiple neighbors: China for chewy, toothsome noodles; Bruner-Yang’s native Taiwan for a crispy fried chicken topping; and Korea for one of Toki Underground’s bestsellers, a spicy number infused with the pickled punch of fermented cabbage. Business is so good at Toki Underground that it recently expanded to open a second location in Baltimore.

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  • Japanese
  • Studio City
  • price 1 of 4

Despite all the new shops sprouting up in LA, one of the earliest tonkotsu specialists is still the best. Jinya offers a full slate of pork-based ramen, all of which smack you hard with not only pork, but also what someone there might tell you is an “industrial” amount of dashi (Japanese soup base) and dried fish. Purists can order the Tonkotsu Assari to appreciate the remarkable umami of this soup. For the adventurous, there’s the Tonkotsu Spicy, which stays true to its name. While it started out in LA, Jinya now has more than 30 locations across the US.

Ramen Nagi is a booming ramen chain across Asia and in recent years, it's made its way to the US — with spots in southern and northern California — attracting long lines of people with no qualms about waiting to indulge in the restaurant's decadent bowls of noodles. The first US location was in Palo Alto, and today, it remains as popular as ever. Diners can pick the base and toppings that suit their tastes. Options include the Original King (the signature tonkotsu pork broth), Red King (a spicy miso broth) or Black King (infused with blackened garlic and calamari ink.) The restaurant also releases "limited king" dishes with creative spins on the dish.

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  • Hubbard-Richard

In recent years, the Motor City has emerged as one of the country’s top food destinations, with chefs reshaping the local dining landscape. At his diner-turned-ramen-ya, bowls range from the traditional—like a creamy tonkotsu made from boiled-down pig’s trotters and heads—to the delightfully inauthentic Southwest #2, brimming with green chilies, corn, coriander-roasted carrots and fish sauce.

  • Contemporary Asian
  • Highland

Originating in Denver’s hip LoHi neighborhood, this dinner-only spot slings nearly 2,000 bowls a week, a testament to the popularity of Uncle’s umami-laden offerings. Chef Tommy Lee goes old-school with technique—broths get a requisite 16-hour simmer, noodles come from Sun—but the varieties go beyond the usual shio and shoyu. Instead, there’s the Spicy Chicken built on tahini-soy-chili base and an equally rich Veggie Miso finished with a selection of in-season vegetables.

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  • Japantown

Tonkatsu—broth made from pork bones cooked for 20 hours—and house-made ramen noodles topped with chashu, bamboo shoots, marinated eggs, pork belly strips and other delicacies, are the hallmark of this immensely popular L.A. transplant, set on the second floor of the Japantown Center complex. The menu looks deceptively simple, but the complexity of flavors in the soups is anything but. Try the level 1-2-3 spicy or the Yamadaya. There’s also an extensive sushi menu and bento box meals with karaage chicken and katsu curry.

Founded in 2017 in San Francisco's Japantown, Marufuku quickly gained a loyal following and rose to ramen fame. Today, there are Marufuku locations across California, Texas and New York. The restaurant is best known for its hakata-style tonkotsu ramen, which infuses a milky pork bone broth with thin noodles and cooks for nearly 20 hours. Before you slurp your bowl of noodles, it's worth sampling other dishes on the menu, from the takoyaki to the gyzoa or steamed pork buns. 

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  • Japanese
  • Armour Square

Strings sets itself apart from the recent influx of ramen slingers by making its own noodles in the basement on a Japanese machine. They’re firm, with a nice bite. Get them in a variety of ramen bowls, like the tonkotsu, which has a deep, meaty broth filled with garlic, sesame, scallions and thick slabs of pork. Add an egg and it’ll come with a perfectly cooked yolk that spills into the broth. 

  • Japanese
  • East Village

This sleek outpost of beloved Japanese ramen chain Ippudo draws long lines of fans who queue up for a taste of the famous “Ramen King” Shigemi Kawahara’s tonkotsu, a pork-based broth. The house specialty is the Akamaru Modern, which is a creamy and smooth soup topped with scallions, cabbage, a slice of roasted pork, and deliciously chewy noodles made in-house. Ramen is the star of the show here and what the Ramen King does best, though a few a la carte items—steamed buns and sesame-marinated cucumbers—round out the meal.

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