Eat ramen. Eat all of the ramen, because there’s never a bad time to indulge. The good news for you is that ramen is no longer a novelty, and there are plenty of great options around. The bad news is everyone you know is apparently an expert and wants to share their “knowledge” on traditional Japanese cooking techniques. We have no such intentions, but we do know what tastes good.
These aren’t restaurants that happen to have a ramen on the menu, but rather places that are built around it. These are the best ramen joints in Chicago.
We’re big fans of this Chinatown shop. Excellent noodles, plus a large selection of toppings including vegetables, pork belly, pork loin, duck, seafood, and turkey. It’s always reliable and easy to get in and out of.
Furious Spoon is a great mix of cool but practical. The space is tight with great music and a fast pace. And the ramen is familiar, but there are some interesting twists as well. Get the namesake Furious Spoon, which is a little thicker than most other ramens, but has excellent noodles and good spice.
Yeah, a ramen shop from the people who brought you Au Cheval is going to be pretty great. The tiny shop seats about 15 people in the basement of Green Street Smoked Meats, and the name of the game here is spice. The Half Spice Ramen should be the baseline, so feel free to kick up the heat from there.
Oiistar in Wicker Park has a crazy *ss machine for making noodles in-house. Pair that with its notable tonkotsu broth and you’re in business.
Yusho might not be as new and exciting as it once was, but it’s as good as ever. Ramen is always available on the menu, but they do “Sunday Noodles” where $25 gets you a bowl of ramen, a cocktail, and a dessert.
Stellar ramen and a BYOB policy? Not sure what else you need.
Ramen Takeya is the sister restaurant to Wasabi, and while similar, it’s not quite the same. The specialty at Ramen Takeya is their chicken paitan, which is a lighter chicken broth than all the rich tonkotsu pork bases popular elsewhere.
Ramen-San does solid ramen, but it’s all about the vibe with its brick walls and hip hop soundtrack. Bet Biggie and Tupac never envisioned people listening to their tracks with a bowl of ramen and cold Asahi, but that’s exactly what we like to do.
If you’re serious about ramen, head to the Mitsuwa Marketplace in Arlington Heights. Not only can you buy the rare chocolate stuffed Koala cookies only available in Japan these days, but the ramen shop inside the market, Santouka, is the real deal.