On a cold day, we’d be hard pressed to find a more soul-nourishing dish than a steaming bowl of ramen. With slurpable noodles, slow-simmered broths, and layers of tender meat and veggies, these belly-warming meals hit the spot, whether devoured at a bustling ramen counter or taken home for a cozy night in. Luckily, the Mile High City is brimming with ramen houses slinging masterful takes on the famous Japanese dish. Here, in alphabetical order, 14 of our favorite ramen spots in and around Denver.

Editor’s Note: This is a living list of the best ramen restaurants that was last updated on February 3, 2022. Did we miss your favorite? Email us at dining@5280.com

Chimera Ramen

Chimera’s Butter Lobster ramen. Photo by Patricia Kaowthumrong

Boulder’s Chimera Ramen has a secret weapon: a noodle-making machine named Rama that produces springy strands of goodness in the restaurant’s window—a rarity on the Front Range. At the 18-month-old fast-casual joint, chef-owner Edwin Zoe (also behind Zoe Ma Ma outposts in Boulder and near Union Station) pairs the house-made creations with creamy broths to produce ultra-comforting noodle bowls. Dig into standouts such as the Butter Lobster ramen, an indulgent masterpiece topped with a juicy, butter-poached Maine lobster tail, spicy bean sprouts, earthy cloud ear mushrooms, and silky wakame seaweed. The broth is simmered with salty-sweet miso and bonito (a fish in the mackerel family), resulting in a oil-sheened, umami-packed liquid that begs to be slurped from a giant spoon. 2014 10th St., Boulder —Patricia Kaowthumrong

Ebisu Sushi & Ramen

Black garlic oil tonkotsu at Ebisu Sushi & Ramen. Photo by Riane Menardi Morrison
Black garlic oil tonkotsu at Ebisu Sushi & Ramen. Photo by Riane Menardi Morrison

Tucked inside the south Denver food hall Junction Food & Drink is Ebisu Sushi & Ramen, a Japanese eatery led by Soon Choi, former head chef at Sushi Den. Alongside artfully crafted sushi, sashimi, and spring rolls, Choi serves elevated noodle bowls, including the rich-and-savory black garlic oil tonkotsu ramen—a shoyu tonkotsu broth laden with braised pork belly, a soft-boiled egg, and crunchy fried onions—as well as a healthy-yet-comforting, miso-based vegetarian ramen topped with fried tofu, bean sprouts, and wood ear mushrooms. The vegetarian broth is slow simmered with kombu (kelp), shiitake mushrooms, peppers, and burdock root, imparting the liquid with a deep, earthy flavor. Also try the dipping ramen, where noodles and toppings are presented separately from the broth, so you can customize each bite to your liking. Junction Food & Drink, 2000 S. Colorado Blvd., Building IV —RMM

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Goed Zuur

Goed Zurr Ramen. Phot by Barbara Urzua
Goed Zurr Ramen. Phot by Barbara Urzua

Known among locals as Denver’s greatest hub for sour beer and cheese boards, you might not expect to see Five Points’ Goed Zuur on a best ramen list. On Sundays, however, chef-owner Anthony Lopiccolo whips up a delicious surprise. Choose from two options: a cured pork broth loaded with pork belly, togarashi meatballs, and fried charcuterie bits or a vegan-friendly miso mushroom broth featuring cremini mushrooms, enoki fungi, and house-made kimchi. Both selections come with pickled edamame, seaweed salad, napa cabbage, hard-boiled egg, and bean sprouts, giving patrons the chance to dive into a sea of flavors and textures. Lopiccolo began the weekly tradition after realizing that preparing ramen—a dish he enjoys cooking—made his Sunday work day more enjoyable. Thankfully for Denverites, Lopiccolo’s noodles are also the perfect pick-me-up after a Saturday night of shenanigans; or you can pair a bowl with one of Goed Zuur’s 17 sour drafts to keep the party going. 2801 Welton St., Denver —Barbara Urzua

Katsu Ramen

Comfort and convenience go hand-in-hand at Katsu Ramen, an unassuming Aurora strip mall spot serving up some of the best ramen around. A wide range of broths—from the creamy pork- and chicken-based varieties to a rich miso, decadent curry, and nutty tan tan—are the base for well-apportioned slices of pork, bok choy, bean sprouts, and springy noodles. (Yes, the requisite hard-boiled egg is along for the tasty ride too.) Make your northeastern trek to South Havana Street worthwhile and order the black garlic tonkotsu ramen. The scorched garlic oil is made by reducing raw garlic into an inky paste, which adds an earthy, umami-forward aroma and deep flavor to an already heightened ramen experience. 1930 S. Havana St., Ste. 4, Aurora —Philip Clapham

Kiki’s Japanese Casual Dining

Ishikara ramen at Kiki's. Photo by Riane Menardi Morrison
Ishikara ramen at Kiki’s. Photo by Riane Menardi Morrison

This humble strip mall joint has been slinging ramen and traditional Japanese fare on South Colorado Boulevard for over 20 years—and upon slurping up the first piping hot noodle, it’s easy to understand why. Here, you can find regional specialties like Ishikara ramen (from the city of the same name in Hokkaido). The miso-based broth packs a tangy, fermented punch, and along with the standard noodles, bean sprouts, and thinly sliced pork, the bowl comes topped with sashimi-style cuts of miso-marinated raw salmon, which can be eaten as is or cooked by dipping into the broth. For a crunchy, sour accompaniment, order a side of oshinko—assorted Japanese pickles, including cucumber, eggplant, and daikon radish. 2440 S. Colorado Blvd. —RMM

Menya

Over the past half decade or so, restaurateurs JW Lee, Yamaguchi Katsuhisa, and Munehiro Kitasato have opened five Colorado outposts of slightly differently named Japanese eateries, all of which have leaned hard into the noodle craze despite offering other menu items like sushi, steak, and poke. Each restaurant has its own menu and vibe (downtown is tight and bustling; LoHi feels trendier with a cozy bar), but most offer the hearty Menya Special. The tonkatsulike bowl is filled with a creamy, opaque pork broth, chashu pork (fatty braised pork belly), a hard-boiled egg, and bouncy noodles sprinkled with bean sprouts and scallions. It’s everything you want on a cold day. If you don’t dig on pig, the spicy chicken iteration comes with a miso broth that delivers a kick without setting your tongue aflame. Various locations —Lindsey B. King

Osaka Ramen

Chef and restaurateur Jeff Osaka dishes out his comforting bowls of ramen at RiNo’s Osaka Ramen (and smart diners can also find the noodles at Sushi-Rama locations across the metro area). Descend to the cozy, underground eatery, sidle up to the ramen counter, and peruse the menu of small plates such as the Spam musubi and crispy chicken karaage, as well as traditional ramens (shoyu, tonkotsu, and miso varieties). For something different, veer toward Osaka’s fusion creations like Thai-green-coconut-curry-based ramen topped with tofu, hon shimeji mushrooms, spinach, pickled vegetables, scallions, and a soft-boiled egg, or the seasonal vegetable ramen, currently comprised of a seaweed dashi broth, roasted Brussels sprouts, shiitake and beech mushrooms, tofu, sage miso butter, and fukujinzuke (Japanese pickles). 2611 Walnut St. —RMM

Ramen Star

The shoyu ramen (topped with a potato pierogi) at Ramen Star. Photo by Patricia Kaowthumrong

It’s not the handmade wood tables that make Ramen Star special, nor the ceramic bowls, made by local artist and potter Kazu Oba—although they are works of art in and of themselves. These things—along with the friendly service—make for a wonderfully pleasant dining experience, but the real star at this Sunnyside restaurant is the ramen itself. Chef-owner Takashi Tamai makes his noodles fresh daily using a noodle press imported from Japan, and you can taste the difference. Tamai offers everything from miso to shoyu bowls, but we recommend the eponymous Ramen Star, which features a rich, tonkotsu-style broth, house-made noodles, braised pork belly, green onion, bean sprouts, and pickled ginger (be sure to add a soft-boiled egg). Tamai uses local ingredients when possible, and he doesn’t use preservatives or MSG in any of his dishes. Pair your meal with a refreshing lychee-tini, and start with some edamame or gyoza, and you’ll be transported from this Tejon Street gem right to the heart of Tokyo. 4044 Tejon St. —Geoff Van Dyke

Sakana Sushi & Ramen

Sakana Sushi and Ramen
The tonkotsu ramen at Sakana. Photo by Patricia Kaowthumrong

From Wednesday through Sunday, this petite strip-mall joint off Sheridan Boulevard bustles with diners feasting on thick slices of fresh sashimi and steaming vessels of noodles in a contemporary, minimalistic space accented with light woods and plants. Simplicity rules on the ramen side of the seven-bowl-strong menu—all of which are affordably priced between $10 and $13. If you’re craving clean, classic bone broth, opt for the tonkotsu, a pork-based soup accompanied by fall-apart-tender slices of braised pork belly, bamboo shoots, and bok choy. But if something heartier is your forte, go for the curry ramen, which sports crispy fried chicken and fresh spinach in broth scented with warm spices such as curry powder and ginger. 7520 Sheridan Blvd., Westminster —PK

Sukiya

Spicy tonkotsu ramen at Sukiya. Photo by Riane Menardi Morrison
Spicy tonkotsu ramen at Sukiya. Photo by Riane Menardi Morrison

This simple-yet-mighty ramen counter with three locations (North Broadway, Greenwood Village, and Park Meadows) offers traditional bowls of tonkotsu-, shoyu-, and miso-based ramen along with bowls of donburi (rice bowls) and yakisoba. Avoid peak hours if possible (there can often be a wait at lunchtime), and on your first visit, try the bar-setting spicy tonkotsu ramen: a cloudy, ginger-scented, chile-laced pork broth layered with smoky, charred pork belly, bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, bok choy, nori, a soft-boiled egg, and fish cakes. Add a side of umami-rich takoyaki—the fried balls of octopus are crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside, and topped with a generous drizzle of spicy mayo and sprinkled with flaky bonito. Various locations —RMM

Tacos El Reydesel

Tacos El Reydesel's birria ramen. Photo by Ellery Cardone
Tacos El Reydesel’s birria ramen. Photo by Ellery Cardone

While ramen has a long history in Japan, birria has a long history in Mexico—and combined, they transport you to fusion heaven. Traditionally served with bread or tortillas, birria (a slow-cooked stew of goat meat and spices) has had a renaissance as Mexican restaurateurs and food truck owners started experimenting with now-ubiquitous beef birria tacos as well as new dishes like Instagram-darling birria ramen. Our favorite version can be found at Tacos El Reydesel in Aurora’s Las Esquina del Sabor (Spanish for “flavor corner”) food truck marketplace. Served in a cardboard Tapatio instant ramen bowl, the noodles are topped with diced red onion, cilantro, lime wedges, slices of jalapeño, and chunks of chile-soaked shredded beef. If you need something sweet after downing this unctuous umami bomb, you’re in luck: Neighboring stalls sell Mexican candies and, in warmer weather, virgin piña coladas served in fresh pineapples. 15200 E Colfax Ave., Aurora —Nicholas Hunt

Tatsu Izakaya

Tatsu Izakaya's Tatsu ramen. Photo by Lindsey B. King
Tatsu Izakaya’s Tatsu ramen. Photo by Lindsey B. King

Since the invention of instant noodles in 1958 in Japan, ramen has become synonymous with cash-strapped, hot-plate-outfitted college kids. Tatsu Izakaya’s noodle bowls are notably tastier (and spendier) than Top Ramen, but its University of Denver location means it caters to a grab-and-go crowd. Although the dining room is perfectly serviceable with a bar and several TVs, if you live in the greater DU area, we suggest ordering the clear-brothed shoyu ramen with chicken or the creamy Tatsu ramen with perfectly charred pieces of pork belly to enjoy at home. Like any good Japanese restaurant, the broth comes packaged separately so as not to turn the noodles into mush and the containers are recyclable. Bonus: The izakaya gives you so much savory broth that if you happen to have some instant ramen in your pantry, you could toss the flavor packet in the trash and pour your leftover broth right on top. 2022 S. University Blvd. —LBK

Tokio

Tokio’s vegetarian Ramen Air. Photo by Patricia Kaowthumrong

Competitive eaters, rejoice: Tokio offers a 5.5-pound ramen challenge and anyone who finishes the super-size portion in 22 minutes receives their meal for free (only available 5–6 p.m.; $30 if you don’t finish). While the deal is enticing, we adore Tokio for other reasons. The friendly, talented chefs behind the sushi counter and tiny open kitchen are always happy to chat with customers and offer recommendations; it is open until 11 p.m. for late-night bites; and (most importantly) the ramen lineup is solid. Pair a sake flight with the Ramen Air, sliced fried tofu and a rainbow of vegetables—including carrot, bamboo, wood ear mushrooms, spinach, and bok choy—in a cloudy soybean milk broth spiked with dry chile seasoning and spicy sesame oil. Or go for the Cremoso Diablo, a riff on birria ramen brimming with chashu pork (braised pork belly), cheddar and jack cheeses, heavy cream, and a soft-boiled egg in a spicy pork and chicken broth. 2907 Huron St. Unit 103 —PK

Uncle

Belly up to the ramen counter surrounding an open kitchen at one of chef-owner Tommy Lee’s cult-favorite establishments in Highland and Wash Park to watch chefs masterfully prepare steaming bowls of noodles as well as shareables like gua bao (pork belly buns) and chilled tofu. Start your meal with a can of sake along with the satisfyingly crunchy celery salad, which is drenched in fiery XO sauce and topped with sour cream and dried shrimp flakes. For the main event, bypass the popular spicy chicken ramen for the traditional Tokyo ramen, a satisfying bowl comprised of clear, mildly spiced shoyu broth filled with pork belly, arugula, and a soft-boiled, soy-sauce-marinated ajitama egg; or opt for the hearty Jiro, which comes in a cloudier, spicy-garlic-laced chicken and bonito broth along with the usual comforts of pork belly, bean sprouts, and a gooey egg. Add a “spicy bomb” on the side—the pat of scorching chile paste can be added to your broth for an extra kick.  2215 W.  32nd Ave., 95 S. Pennsylvania St. —RMM

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Riane Menardi Morrison
Riane Menardi Morrison

Riane is 5280's digital strategy editor and writes food and culture content. Follow her at @riane__eats.