The District was slow to get into the ramen game, but ever since our first slurp we’ve been making up for lost time. What DC lacks in the concentration of ramen shops within the 68.34 mi² it makes up for in diversity and experimentation. DC ramen shops respect Japanese noodle traditions while adding flair influenced by the cultural melting pot that is the 202. Here’s our list of some of the must-slurp ramen spots in the District.
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705 6th St NW
Daikaya is two floors with two separate menus. The bottom floor is Daikaya Ramen Shop which doesn’t take reservations and the top floor is Daikaya Izakaya which does. As a result, when Diakaya Ramen has a line out the door it doesn’t hurt to take a peek upstairs and see if they have some open seating at the bar. Sip on the delish cocktails while you wait for your reservation to be called (or skip the ramen and dig into Izakaya’s drool-worthy Japanese comfort food).
Try: Mugi-Miso Ramen
1234 H St NE
Toki Underground was one of the first ramen restaurants and in the District and continues to consistently come out on top of lists. The key to Toki Underground’s success? In your face flavors and not skimping on ingredients in the bowl.
Try: Toki Classic
2441 18th St NW
Heading downstairs to Sakuramen feels like you’re going to a secret club, but once you find out your wait time you’ll realize everyone knows this secret. Impress your friends by ordering the DC Miso and asking for 10/10 spiciness. Don’t worry, it’s the appropriate amount of kick if you like to flirt with heat but aren’t willing to scorch your taste buds off.
Try: DC Miso
1817 M St NW
Oki Bowl brings cool to the table in both atmosphere and how it approaches ramen. You won’t find the classics here. Instead, Oki Bowl channels Neo-Tokyo which imagines a multicultural future influencing the way we approach ramen.
Try: Spider Ramen (yeah, that’s a soft shell crab)
1501 9th St NW
Chaplin’s slogan should be: Go for the cocktails, stay for the ramen, and stay even longer for the desserts. Why? Because Chaplin’s has a top-notch cocktail program that can compete with the best in Shaw, unique and delicious ramen bowls packed with noodles, and a dessert menu to make you cry.
Try: The Chaplin (and dessert)
501 G St NW
Bantam King’s colorful interior is the perfect space for a grey day or simply because you need to brighten your day. This ramen spot is best for an easy lunch of either hot or cold ramen. In addition to the ramen, you can’t go wrong with Bantam’s chicken wings.
Try: Hitashi Chuka
1039 33rd St NW
Kintaro is a sushi bar first and a ramen house second, but that doesn’t mean the ramen is lesser quality. Kintaro offers three ramen options for the hard to beat a price of $10. Consider an order of Kintaro’s light and crispy tempura on the side.
817 7th St NW
This Chinatown based ramen shop appropriately injects a healthy dose of Sino-influence into the bowls. Reren Lamen also isn’t shy about topping their hearty noodles with a healthy helping of toppings.
Try: Buddha Style Lamen
805 V St NW
Haiken is part of the Daikaya and Bantam King family. If you trust those restaurants you already know Haiken is a must visit restaurant. However, one of the highlights that sets Haiken apart is the 40-person patio. Believe us, this is one of the best places in the District for dining outside. Also, the cocktails.
Try: Spicy Shoyu
1336 14th St NW & 2911 District Ave #140, Fairfax
The most recent entry into the increasingly competitive ramen market is this franchise from Los Angeles. The ramen is high quality, diverse, and well-balanced. However, the new 14th Street location has been losing some points for prices which are roughly $2 or $3 higher than the Fairfax location. For example, the popular Tonkotsu Spicy is $12 in Fairfax but if you want it at 14th Street you’re paying $15. That said, Jinya has more bowl options than the average ramen restaurant. Currently, the 14th Street location has 14 options and Fairfax has 13. Not too shabby!
Try: Cha Cha Cha (for garlic lovers)
1090 I St NW
We’re hesitantly putting Momofuku on this list. David Chang’s popular chain arrived in DC to a great deal of justified acclaim two years ago but we’ve noticed a significant decline in quality. It’s still a decent place to catch a bowl of ramen if you have friends or family staying downtown by the Mall. However, at the Momofuku ticket price ($16 to $18 for a bowl of ramen) you can definitely do better elsewhere in the loop.
Try: Pork Ramen