The Best Garlic Noodles In SF, Ranked

Ready some breath mints and get to one of these spots.
The Best Garlic Noodles In SF, Ranked image

photo credit: Erin Ng

If we were to nominate a dish to represent SF in a nationwide food-themed Olympics, garlic noodles would be it. The simple yet umami-packed dish—which was reportedly invented right here in the city, at the Sunset's Thanh Long—is a staple on menus across town. But not all bowls of garlicky carbs are created equal. These are the best garlic noodles in SF, ranked.


photo credit: Erin Ng



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The garlic noodles at Thanh Long are iconic. The Vietnamese seafood institution was credited with inventing the dish back in the ‘70s. Decades later, the Sunset spot is still a destination for noodles made with what we can only imagine is an entire head of garlic and a super-sized vat of butter. The dish is the fragrant centerpiece to every table and the ideal companion to their pepper-coated roast crabs and peppery shaken beef. Enjoying it in the company of lychee martinis and plastic bibs all around is an ideal way to spend a birthday or last meal in the city. 

Come to this spot in the Richmond for homestyle Burmese food—including the incredible garlic noodles that’ll make you walk away from dinner considering a committed partnership with them, shared apartment and all. The flat egg noodles are peppery and generously coated in butter. Green onions and crunchy garlic bits add excellent texture. They all come together to create punchy umami flavors that’ll have the whole table jockeying for the last bite. 

A meal at this upscale Vietnamese restaurant in the Richmond is full of absolute bangers. You can feast on a red carpet-worthy spread of BBQ pork chops with broken rice, crackly duck confit spring rolls, and fried whole red snappers over a bed of pineapple chow fun. But don’t overlook their garlic noodles. They stand out from other versions on this list thanks to the addition of bok choy, mushrooms, and decorative edible flower petals. But this dish isn’t only about looks—the noodles are thick, bouncy, and perfectly cooked.

photo credit: Julia Chen

$$$$Perfect For:Lunch

We don’t expect to find garlic noodles at dim sum restaurants. Especially at Osmanthus, a swanky Cantonese spot off a touristy stretch in North Beach. But they’re on the menu, and they’re f*cking incredible. Each noodle is the ideal level of chewy and has the right ratio of fresh garlic to butter. And once a plate lands on the table, you’ll have to be pried off the premises just so you can stop yourself from ordering another round, and then another.

photo credit: Ricky Rodriguez

The bánh mì at Banh Mi Crunch in the Sunset might be the first reason you’re here, but the garlic noodles at this Vietnamese standby are more than worth a second look. You can get them two ways: alone or as a substitution on a BBQ rice plate (we like the Crunch Plate with a juicy pork chop the best). Either way, these noodles are juicy, tender, buttery, and hot, and slurping them is just like biting into a clove of garlic. Just keep in mind, this is mostly a lunch spot, so make sure to swing by before they close at 7pm. 

Bac Lieu is a Vietnamese oasis in Bernal Heights where chewy garlic noodles reign supreme. Expect a tangle of tender noodles, generously coated with garlic and butter and your choice of five-spice chicken, or grilled pork, seafood, or beef. This casual spot pumps them out quick, making for a perfect last-minute comfort meal. Whether you're a garlic aficionado or just in search of some hot noodles, Bac Lieu's garlic noodles are a weekday godsend. Pair them with a side of shrimp cake chao tom or crispy bánh xèo, and you've got yourself an unforgettable dining experience. But let's be clear, the garlic noodles should be the centerpiece.

This counter-service spot in the Castro serves Vietnamese staples like phở, bánh mì, and vermicelli plates. They’re all solid, but you’re here for the incredible garlic noodles. Stir-fried with bok choy, broccoli, and scallions, and finished with parmesan, this dish works just as well as a gateway back to reality after a night out as it does for quick dinners under $20. The egg noodles are thick and chewy, and the ideal vehicle for the mini aquarium’s worth of garlic butter and cheese they’re drenched in. The other good news is you can customize what goes on top, like five-spice chicken or lemongrass beef. Know that the flawless charred BBQ pork is the way to go. 

Like Thanh Long, PPQ is another excellent Vietnamese spot focusing on seafood and roast crab (they relocated a few blocks from their original Richmond location in March 2023). Ordering the butter-soaked garlic noodles is still the unofficial rule. Like Adele and an emotional piano ballad, the noodles pair well with all of their seafood options, like the gorgeously charred tiger prawns and zingy lemongrass calamari. Portions are about the size of a baseball, so consider ordering a couple of bowls for the table in order to avoid ending a friendship over who gets the last serving.

The springy garlic noodles are served as combo meals at this Vietnamese spot in the Inner Sunset, so prepare to order them with things like five-spice chicken or charbroiled pork chops. The chewy noodles have a subtly garlicky scent that manages to waft down Irving St. And biting into the crispy-skinned chicken will result in satisfying crackles that can be heard across the dining room. Since a combo is only $13, consider making a trip to this casual place part of your weekly self-care routine.

Spreading the garlic noodle gospel in Duboce Triangle is Jasmine Garden, a lowkey Vietnamese spot built for low-effort weeknight dinners. Just roll up in your best sweatpants, order a plate of buttery noodles (best with a side of nicely grilled barbecue pork), and go to town. The rendition here always does the trick and comes in a hefty portion size. But if there aren’t leftovers, all the more reason to order another round to go. 

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