Your Handy Guide to Denver's Best Ramen Restaurants
It’s simply a fact by now: Ramen is here to stay. Most of the time, the traditional Japanese dish combines slowly simmered broths with bouncy noodles and an array of possible toppings and add ons, from pickled veggies and soy-marinated eggs to pierogis (more on that in a bit). And we here in the Mile High have it all -- the creative as well as the traditional, with the choices improving in both quality and quantity in recent years.
Bottom line: there are a lot of ramen places in Denver and we’re going to shout-out the best. Happy slurping.
Highlands & Washington Park
Ramen worth waiting for (that you’ll probably have to wait for)
The ever-present lines at this hot spot’s original Highlands location is a clear sign of the quality waiting inside. And now, a new, larger second location in Wash Park means you’ve got twice the access to favorites like their best seller, the spicy chicken. Chef/owner Tommy Lee’s also added some items to the Wash Park location’s menu including a lineup of mazemen-style brothless ramen which is a solid move when temperatures rise. When the cold hits, though, Uncle’s rich broths with the addition of a $2 “spicy bomb” of miso pepper paste is the move.
Some of the freshest noodles in the city
With their Japanese noodle machine in full sight, there’s no doubting that the noodles you’ll be slurping at this spot are fresh. They’re available in the restaurant’s small but mighty selection of five ramen variations including their signature bowl, the Ramen Star, with pork belly and a silky, umami laden broth. For those that prefer to go meatless, the vegetarian ramen complete with potato pierogi is a non-traditional treat.
Traditional ramen from a Japanese chef
The sibling of the always-packed Sushi Katsu is doing a bang-up job of not only the most-common ramen styles but also hiyashi chuka, a chilled version featuring slices of omelet (tamagoyaki) and barbecued pork (chashu) in a creamy sesame-ponzu sauce you’ll wish you could drink from a glass with a little sake mixed in. Which -- good news -- you can.
Standbys and seasonal specials from a Denver culinary heavyweight
From the New American flavors at 12 at Madison to his growing conveyor belt sushi empire, Sushi-Rama, Jeff Osaka comes correct on multiple fronts in the Mile High dining scene. His urban-underground noodle bar is no exception. It’s got a lineup of delectable izakaya-inspired small plates (see: kara-age), but the highlight, of course, is the ramen. You’ve got your lighter, chicken-based shio (salt) and shoyu (soy-flavored) broths; your medium-textured miso broth made with chicken and pork; and your intense, whole-hog tonkotsu broth -- each distinguished by its own mix of toppings, from braised pork shoulder to black-garlic oil. And though the standard menu is great, don’t sleep on the seasonal choices, like the fall special featuring chorizo and Denver’s favorite ingredient, green chiles.
Denver’s cheesiest ramen (literally)
This sleek, bi-level date-night haunt ably ladles up all the classics along with a locally-inspired bowl that belongs on everyone’s list of top guilty pleasures forevermore: the cremoso diablo, a miso broth made creamy by an unexpected addition of a blend of cheddar and jack cheeses. It sounds ridiculous, and it tastes... ridiculously good. If you’re feeling a little less adventurous, their tonkotsu with milky-hued all-pork broth is another go-to. Side note for all you aspiring competitive eaters -- they also offer a ramen challenge. If you can eat 5.5lbs of ramen in 22 minutes, the bowl is free.
Bowls amped up with Korean and Vietnamese flavors
In May of 2016, this family-owned restaurant with a slightly hidden alley entrance began serving up food that reflected owner Sera Nguyen's own experiences with dining, from growing up eating at her mother's restaurant in Vietnam to the flavors she loves to share in her kitchen at home. The result is authentic flavors served with a dash of homestyle hospitality so whether you order the spicy miso chicken, curry ramen, or umami-packed oxtail ramen, you're in for an experience that will surely leave you craving more.
A hidden gem in the south ‘burbs
This little strip-mall shop is easy to miss despite the fact that it’s located right off Broadway. It has a small but traditional ramen selection augmented by typical snacks like gyoza and fried oysters. Yes, you'll have to pay extra for certain toppings à la carte -- including the seasoned egg called ni-tamago -- but if you've eaten enough ramen, you know that such fees aren’t really so unusual. Now pay up and slurp away.
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