You can ask me any day, any time of year what I feel like eating – and ramen is ALWAYS an option. It’s my comfort food. It’s my go-to. And it’s something I will never get tired of eating. When I was pregnant with Celine, Roger and I would get ramen at least once, sometimes, twice a week. And since then we’ve been hooked on trying every ramen spot we could find in San Diego.
This post isn’t about the best or the worst. I don’t go into much details about flavors or toppings, and I don’t have a professional palette. I just know what I like and I like what I know. All these ramen restaurants are good places to try! And if you’re like me and you like to try new food places and love ramen – then take the challenge and hit up these 11 ramen spots in San Diego!
Underbelly is one of the most popular ramen spots in San Diego. They have two prime locations, one in Little Italy (how ironic) and the other in the hipsterville of North Park. Super modern and sleek restaurants. Non traditional to say the least. The only downside to these places is the parking. They have you order at the counter at the front, so be sure to know what you want before you get to the front of the line (& there’s usually a line during prime hours). The Belly of the Beast is their most popular ramen bowl. If you only make it to one of these places, this would be the most popular option.
Tajima is one of our usual go to spots for ramen. You really can’t go wrong. With SEVEN locations to choose from, you’ll always have options. Two of those aren’t in San Diego; one being in Long Beach and the other in Tijuana. (Yes they eat ramen in Mexico too!) Unfortunately, this doesn’t deter the long wait times to be seated, but I promise you won’t be disappointed. I like that they give you options for noodles, thin or fat (not body shaming!), and I go for fat noodles always. They have gluten-free and spinach noodles too which I haven’t tried yet. Their signature Tajima ramen is my fave. But the spicy sesame ramen is delish if you like a little more heat. I’ve had their curry ramen and it’s very flavorful! My favorite part of them all has to be their boiled egg. I have no idea how they make it or what they soak them in, but they are packed with yuminess. Most of their locations are open really late, so it’s perfect for after hours drunken noodle munchies, no pun intended.
This place is heaven-sent, mostly because they are located right down the street from where I live, in the heart of La Mesa. Not your typical town for a ramen restaurant, but they really did a great job at giving us a place to go when the craving hits and we don’t want to drive into the city or busy parts of town. Parking is easy and we’ve never had to wait a long time. It’s an order at the counter joint so service is quick. It’s clearly not traditional, but I would call it more “Asian inspired”. Their small plates aren’t my favorite, so let’s stick to the ramen. I get the Blvd Bowl, simple no fuss ramen and toppings. If you’re into high-end fixings this isn’t the place for you. But all together I really have no complaints and it still hits the spot.
Hokkaido Ramen Santouka (inside Mitsuwa market)
This place is your traditional “food court” ramen spot, located inside the wonderful Mitsuwa market. The seating can be a bit of a nightmare and it’s *cash only*. I love that they have all the ramen bowl’s displayed so it makes ordering your food fun, but in my opinion, they all kinda look the same. Lol. They serve traditional thin ramen noodles and have lots of options. I’m sad to say, this is probably my least favorite of all the places based off the ramen itself. But I can totally see why it’s so popular given its authentic vibes. It’s a good place if you’re looking for a quick meal or to fill your belly before or after some grocery shopping.
We love going here for family dinners or bigger groups. They take reservations and it’s very spacious compared to most ramen or Japanese restaurants. They have a private parking lot which is nice and they are kid friendly. They have a full menu and serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Of course, we always get the ramen, though they might be better known for their yakidori and traditional bento boxes. They have a decent selection of ramen, I usually opt for the spicy one. Btw, they have awesome lunch specials! (And a karaoke bar right next door, which is still on my to-do list!)
This place was first put on the spot because of their famous ramen burger. Yes, you heard that right, RAMEN BURGER. Though we haven’t tried it, we have been here for their ramen and it does not disappoint. This isn’t usually our first choice, but only because it’s probably the least kid friendly out of the bunch. The restaurant is on the smaller side and half of the seating is bar height seats. But don’t let that deter you because it is a must try, and we did go with Calista when she was a little younger, so definitely give it a shot!
Ramen Izakaya Ouan
We randomly found this spot, and I don’t even remember how, but it was sent down from the Ramen angels. We came for dinner on a Sunday night and unlike other places, there was no wait! This was the first time I had Black Ramen, and it was uh-mazing. The favor of the black broth was subtle, yet unique compared to tradition ramen flavors like Shoyu or Tonkatsu. This place was very kid and family friendly, which we love. Not loud and busy, surprsingly for being in the heart of Hillcrest.
As you can tell from the name, this is a v popular yakitori spot, but don’t let that be the only reason you check them out. This place has traditional vibes, which I dig. You can watch them cook up your meal right from the bar seats that line the kitchen. Obviously, their meat skewers are delicious and are offered a-la-carte, so you can try as many different ones as you like or even order a side with your bowl of ramen! And their ramen is just as good. Another plus, they have frozen slushy beer here! Yesss, you can’t ask for anything more!
Tucked away in a random shopping center in Mission Hills, this place has a small town traditional feel. Parking wasn’t too hard to find, unlike the busier places, but we did have to wait about 15-20 mins to be seated. This is a full service Japanese restaurant, so it was mostly families and bigger parties. Keep in mind, their ramen noodles are skinny traditional ramen noodles (I prefer thicker noddles). But nonetheless, I gave it a thumbs up. You can choose between small, medium, and large ramen bowls which is a nice option!
This place is a newer ramen spot and we’ve driven by it a lot. We finally got a chance to try it out. The parking situation is horrible, just like everything else located in Hillcrest. But we parked down the street and walked only a couple blocks and it wasn’t too bad. We went in the afternoon so it wasn’t busy at all. The place is clean, new, and very spacious. They have a huge variety on their menu and some really awesome lunch and happy hour specials! I got my ramen with a side of sushi – score! They have great customer service and even gave us free ice cream which I gladly accepted! 🙂
This was our most recent ramen experience, we went for dinner on a week night a couple of weeks ago. We went right before the dinner rush hour, but either way, their turn around time seemed to be pretty quick. Super kid friendly and a good space! The main tables are more like community tables, which you’ll find at most modern ramen spots around town. The thing I liked most about this place was their menu variety. They had SO many options! And I wanted to try them all. They are more of a Japanese-American fusion restaurant and had fun twists to their menu items, i.e. ramen sticks! I got the Smoke Bomb Black Ramen and it was absolutely yummy! Black ramen has quickly became my favorite and this place is on point!