Nashville's a city chock-full of Hot Chicken joints and Mexican restaurants, so when ramen noodles popped up on the scene, we were a bit skeptical. I mean, weren't these the same bowls of sustenance we survived on in college for $0.25 a packet? However, it turns out that skepticism was for naught, as we began flocking into ramen spots faster than we could slurp up the rich noodle-filled broth. Ramen, you've earned a special spot in Nashville. And Nashville, here are all the special spots to find the best ramen.
Otaku started out as a pop-up in East Nashville, however, its popularity took off quicker than it takes its pork broth to simmer. In December of last year it opened up a permanent location in The Gulch, and since then has had frequent lines stretching out the door. The menu includes four different delicious ramen options including pork, chicken, and vegetarian. And don't miss out on the hot chicken buns.
Two Ten Jack is easily a contender for the number-one ramen in Nashville (not that we're biased or anything). This Japanese-inspired pub puts great care into creating its ramen dishes, each of which is packed with flavor. The atmosphere at Two Ten Jack provides the perfect dark and romantic spot to slurp your noodles while enjoying a good cup of sake and a small plate of crispy Brussels. While all of the ramen dishes are phenomenal, we’re partial to the tonkotsu ramen with a bit of burnt garlic oil added on.
Ichiban serves a classic pork broth ramen dish, which has been a classic in Nashville for many years. The dish is sometimes easily overlooked because of the extensive menu of traditional Japanese dishes, however, the ramen is most certainly one to sample. The tonkotsu broth is simmered with great care and is loaded with intense flavor. Finding parking near 2nd Ave can be a challenge (unless you're willing to pay an arm and maybe a leg) but a trip to Ichiban is worth it.
There's only one ramen dish on the menu, but it's good. Really good. Virago's ramen is on the menu as "Southern Ramen." It's a delightful mix of classic ramen (triple stock, a soft-boiled egg, and pork belly) and a little bit of what makes our home in the South so special (collard greens and Tabasco bean sprouts). If you're looking for a uniquely Southern take on this Japanese noodle dish, we highly recommend Virago.
Tonkotsu ramen was a delightful addition to The Treehouse's late-night menu. This pork belly ramen is served with house-made noodles, soy-pickled mushrooms, kale kimchi, shaved turnips, and (of course) a perfectly soft-boiled egg. The Treehouse boasts an eclectic menu with an atmosphere to match it and has a skillfully crafted list of house cocktails to choose from.
Ru San’s has three different ramen options that are on the menu as "Big Bowl Soup-Ramen." There's a vegetarian option as well as a scallops-and-shrimp option and a more classic pork option. This casual Japanese spot serves a buffet during the day for lunch, and its full menu at night, but luckily its big bowls of ramen are available anytime.
While Otaku Ramen started out as a popular Nashville pop-up, they now have a permanent location in The Gulch that is rarely seen without a line wrapping around the block. Fortunately, Otaku opened a bar focused on Japanese whiskies where you can pass the time while you wait. Whether you are visiting for creative bowls of noodles steeped in rich broth or exploring the vegetarian options, there is something for everyone at Otaku Ramen.
This East Nashville Japanese-inspired pub offers skewers, sushi, and kodawari ramen, and you can wash it all down with a craft beer, glass of wine, cocktail, or a few shots of sweet sake.
A traditional Japanese spot, Ichiban, located Downtown, serves up some of the best ramen in the city - and of course, some fantastic sushi. The shrimp tempura and chicken teriyaki are also solid, and there's a great selection of sake. Most of the rolls are very inexpensive, but that doesn't mean the sushi chefs skimp on taste. The affordable crunchy shrimp roll, for example, is a perfect sushi experience that won't break the bank.
Virago is Asian fusion at its best (yes, they have sushi too). It may be a little on the chic side, but the food here is certainly worth the fuss. For something different (and Asian-fusion-y) try the Ninja Bacon: crispy pork belly, red curry, and coconut.
This quirky American eatery boasts a treehouse bar out back, where customers can relive their childhood while sipping on house margaritas. The menu features an array of small plates plus some large format dishes for sharing -- unless you want to try to tackle that 32oz dry-aged rib eye on your own. There are late-night options as well, including some of the best ramen in the city.
This casual Japanese spot is a favorite among Nashville locals, thanks to their lunch buffet and full night menu, featuring different types of ramen and delicious vegetarian options. Ru San's should be on your radar whenever you stop by The Gulch, especially if you are in the mood to eat some of the best ramen in Nashville.