The 7 Best Noodle Spots in The Bay Area
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Noodles. Pasta. Pho. Ramen. Linguini. Stringy gluten-worms. No matter what you call them or what type you prefer, we can all get down. As the temperature finally turns, it’s going to be more important than ever that you satisfy your noodle-fix. They’re the perfect meal for sobbing into while you listen to Adele’s “Hello” for the hundredth time. Also the perfect first date dinner if you’re ready to just lay it all out on the table, literally. Plus, they’re an easy meal to get your friends to agree to when you’re hungry and also broke. If you ever encounter a person who claims he or she is “not into noodles”, it’s time to reconsider your acquaintance.
Here’s my list of top noodle places by noodle type for every day of the week, though of course you don’t have to eat them in this specific order:
Tonkotsu Ramen at Ramen Izakaya Goku
3232 16th St, SF
We’ve got no shortage of ramen in the bay area, but I appreciate especially hearty and fatty broths. Look, I’m just saying that if you’re vegan and looking for authentic ramen, you might be tricking yourself a little. Goku does a strangely milky and surprisingly fast order of hefty portioned noodles in pork-y broth. What really does it for me is how perfectly cooked their soft-boiled eggs are and the fact that the small plates are well-priced and also tasty.
Pappardelle with Short-rib Ragu at Piazza Pellegrini
659 Columbus Ave, SF
Housemade sheets of noodles swimming in perfectly seasoned meat. It tastes like grandma, somebody’s grandma who isn’t mine, used to make. I like the not-overly affected kitsch of the restaurant but the sincerity of the flavor. I’m not really sure how much more comfortable you can get than a giant bowl of meat sauce on pasta. Just make sure you’re within stumbling distance of a bed or couch within an hour of eating it.
Kao Poon with Chicken at Sticky Rice Café
2810 International Blvd, Oakland
I could go on for at least 10 minutes about Laotian crispy rice ball salad, but dude…these noodles. There’s vermicelli and curry and fresh herbs, so it doesn’t feel like an instant coma but more like a hammock nap on a tropical island. Again, portion-sizing is not a problem here. Stop letting people convince you that Oakland is scary and run here immediately for excellent service, crazy low prices (don’t tell them I said that), and the best goddamned curry noodle soup you’re going to get on this coast.
Jajangmyeon at Yu Yu Za Zang
4871 Telegraph Ave, Oakland
Speaking of Oakland, they are doing jajangmyeon better than SF. I said it and I meant it. If you’re not familiar with this Korean-Chinese noodle hybrid, you’re going to be real freaked out the first time you see it. It’s basically chubby noodles covered in a viscous black bean sauce that contains completely indistinguishable pieces of meat and vegetables that taste very strongly of garlic and onions. I promise that it is funky in the best way possible and crazy addictive. Do not plan to have passionate love-making afterwards.
Pickled Vegetable & Fish Casserole at Spices
291 6th Ave, SF
Disclaimer 1: Please do not be alarmed by the many mentions of “explosive chili” on the menu. That being said, please also do not order anything with mention of “explosive chili” unless you are prepared to face the consequences.
Disclaimer 2: I cannot guarantee that this menu item is always available, as I may or may not have special requested it in a round-about Chinese way.
Disclaimer 3: It’s going to smell weird and look worse. I promise you it’s delicious. My friend who came with me pleaded a stomach ache and didn’t want to try it. One late bowl later, she was fucking hooked. I don’t know what it is about preserved mustard greens, fish, and rice noodles that end up tasting like sweet, sweet ambrosia but there you have it.
Bun Cha Gio at Tu Lan
8 6th St, SF
Oh, what? Are you scared of their multiple health code violations? Toughen up and sit your ass down. There are noodles topped with fried pork rolls waiting for you. Look, we all love pho. We all have our favorite pho places. If you don’t like pho, you are wrong. But let’s not neglect pho’s beautiful, cooler cousin bun. It’s almost healthy, kind of, and contains pretty much every texture you could want in life: slippery noodles, crispy imperial rolls, soft pickled veggies on a bed of lettuce.
Special Noodles at Mandalay
4348 California St, SF
It’s in the fucking name. They are special and buttery and warm and coconutty and spiced and citrus-flecked and feature table service for mixing. I’m over Burma Superstar and I’m over tea leaf salad (by which I mean, I still love them both but you need to get on this new shit which is old shit). I didn’t know that I needed these noodles in my life until I tried them the first time. Now I refuse to go to Mandalay without ordering them and you should too. Honestly, if you’ve made it to the bottom of this list and you don’t immediately want to order some goddamned noodles, you’re dead inside.