Noodles take many forms: spaetzle, soaking in pho, vermicelli in spring rolls, carbonara, sev and sevai, the list goes on and on. For that reason, we’ve compiled a guide of Bay Area spots to get your noodle on. Whether they are noodle specialists or the place we’ve identified with the best version of that dish in the Bay, this list brings us the comfort of carbs.
If you’re out and about with your favorites, share them with us via the hashtag #kqednoodles.
As a reminder, things are constantly changing during the pandemic. It’s best to call ahead to know what’s available for takeout, pickup or dining-in options. But don’t hold back: Life is about exploring the pasta-bilities.
This South Bay Tamilian restaurant is the closest I’ve been able to get to my athai’s (Tamil for aunt) cooking. Though this place is best known for its banana leaf meals, their idiyappam—a rice noodle dish that’s familiar in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and parts of Sri Lanka—brings back the nostalgia of watching her crank a metal contraption. Dough pressed through the machine formed noodles that were later steamed. Often, Tamilian and South Indian food is conflated strictly to dosa and idli, and it’s finding places like this in the Bay that push people’s understanding past that narrow definition. —U.R.
Open for takeout Monday through Friday 11:30am–10pm; Saturday 11:30am–10pm; Sunday 11:30am–10pm
In the heart of the Mission, Flour + Water has always been known for its pasta, wood-fired pizza and other Italian dishes. The pastas are made in-house and change seasonally, but each one is unique and a treat to take home and eat. On my latest visit, the porchetta triangoli was particularly interesting with in-season sweet mission figs, meaty roasted eggplant and fresh zippy mint. —U.R.
What to order: Ginger scallion Dungeness crab with hand-pulled noodles
During Dungeness crab season, the ginger scallion sauce drips from the crab onto the noodles to create a delightfully messy eating experience. You’ll need shamelessness (if eating in front of others) and plenty of wet naps. Aside from the crab noodles, the Zha Jiang Mien is also worth ordering. This Berkeley restaurant has been specializing in Northern Chinese cuisine since 1985. They also have a hefty, award-winning beer and wine collection, some of which is offered to-go. —U.R.
Open for pickup and delivery Wednesday through Monday 11:30am–2:30pm; 5–8:30pm
What to order: Pan-fried crispy noodles and braised soft noodles
This gem of a place in Emeryville is a bit of a trek, but if you who love noodles and seafood, it’s worth it. The expansive restaurant was packed to the brim for dim sum brunch and had some of the best views in the pre-pandemic era. While the dining room is currently closed, their noodle dishes still travel well for takeout. –U.R.
What to order: Spicy Iza Ramen with an extra egg and butter corn
When it comes to ramen, it’s hard to find one dish that transports and tastes as good in-restaurant as it does assembled at home, but Iza Ramen succeeds where others fail. The big, comforting bowl of fat-rich broth with noodles and that jammy egg is everything we need right now. —U.R.
The first time I went to this hole-in-the-wall was with my food best friend about a year after moving to San Francisco. Plates and plates of noodles kept arriving at our table: cilantro bean noodles; noodles in soup; and the epitome of joy, lamb noodles. It’s all about that al dente chew and the beautiful mess that comes from eating the saucy medium-cooked lamb with a pleasantly spicy broth that’s not overwhelming and builds with every bite. It’s also a generous order, so don’t feel bad if you have to share. This Irving Street spot’s name speaks for itself. —U.R.
Open for takeout or delivery Thursday through Sunday 12–3pm, 5–8:30pm
Here, it’s all about the celebration of udon noodles, plump and perfect for slurping. The husband and wife duo started the restaurant as way to show that fast food can also mean good food. Their udon is aged for two days before being formed into noodles. —U.R.
Available for takeout and delivery Monday through Friday 11am–2pm and 5-8pm
Focusing on dishes from the Gansu Province’s capital Lan Zhou, this restaurant is best known for its beef noodles, served with slices of turnip and seasoned with a numbing chili peppercorn sauce. Beyond that, hand-pulled noodles are on full display in a variety of forms: cold, spicy, in soup and more. —U.R.
Available for takeout and delivery Wednesday through Monday 11am–3pm, 5-9pm
1818 Milmont Dr., Milpitas
Lime Tree SF
What to order: Laksa or Singapore noodles
Lime Tree is one of a handful of Malaysian restaurants in the city. As far as the laksa goes, it’s one of the better versions in the city, where the complexity of the broth really comes through. Here, the broth takes center stage with the costar being the noodles, puffed tofu and seafood. —U.R.
Available for takeout
450 Irving St. A, and 836 Clement St., San Francisco
Lasagna is in fact a noodle. That’s not a worthwhile debate. A better concern is where to get it when you can’t manage to make it at home. Marcella’s is the answer. The Dogpatch lasagneria is a family-owned operation that churns out lasagnas in seven different options including the classic bolognese, abruzzo featuring homemade sausages and a pancetta-infused bianca. Besides those offerings, Marcella’s also has pastas, also homemade, and Italian sandwiches all available to go. The cozy restaurant is used to operating on a takeout basis so they’re fit to adapt under the pandemic’s restrictions. —R.G.
Open for pickup Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00am–2:30pm
There are many ways to measure a noodle’s quality. Al dente signifies a desired resistance to teeth that a just-cooked-right pasta presents. The homemade hand-pulled noodles at Shan Dong make me wonder about another measure: the time it takes my teeth to meet through a noodle. It’s a question of both bounce and resistance, and Shan Dong’s noodles hold that balance deliciously. The hand-pulled wonders are available in a variety of dishes, including the beloved chow mein, a sesame paste glazed variety and the Oakland Chinatown staple. There are noodle dishes that have you picking around the starch looking for the meat, the veggies or the shrimp but that won’t be the case at Shan Dong. —R.G.
Open for takeout during lunch and dinner everyday except Monday
Fall has arrived and winter is to follow which makes a warm bowl of pho the most appealing meal any time of the day. Pho Aosen is the reliable pair of restaurants in Albany and Oakland that serve up pho alongside bun and other Vietnamese favorites. Aosen’s pho selection is deep, with over 10 different possibilities of steak, brisket and tendons—and three combinations that feature tripe. For chicken soup lovers, there’s pho ga, and vegetarians are similarly accommodated. Pre-pandemic, Aosen’s Albany location was especially worth visiting—a former Sizzler converted into a family-friendly and plant-filled eatery. For now, takeout will have to do. —R.G.
Open all day except Wednesday
665 San Pablo Ave., Albany and 1139 E 12th St., Oakland
In West Oakland, Koichi Ishii makes soba by hand, milling the buckwheat, rolling out the dough and cutting the noodles with special tools daily. He studied the art of soba-making for years in his hometown of Yamagata and he is one of a very small handful of chefs in the United States who have studied and make soba by hand. The menu is small, but it’s the perfect ode to the soba noodle. —U.R.
Noodles available for takeout Thursday through Sunday 12–3pm
When it comes to pasta, SPQR dedicates itself to contemporary Italian cuisine. Michelin-starred chef Matthew Accarrino uses seasonal ingredients to accompany noodles that bring comfort. In the more relaxed pandemic variation of the restaurant, the al a carte menu is available for takeout, indoor and outdoor dining. —U.R.
Available for indoor and outdoor dining for dinner daily 5-8pm; Saturday and Sunday lunch 1-3pm; takeout Wednesday through Sunday 3-8pm
Spätzle is a fresh egg pasta popular in Germany, Switzerland and Hungary. At Suppenkuche, there are three versions to try. The Jagerschnitzel is served with a juicy pork loin. The Saurbraten comes with red cabbage and cranberry sauce. And the Käsepätzle is a vegetarian-friendly version served with an onion butter sauce. The gruyere envelopes the beautifully light noodles. The restaurant has been around since 1993 from Fabrizio Wiest and Thomas Klausmann, and it’s modeled after a Bavarian beer hall, reminiscent of Wiest’s childhood. —U.R.
Available for takeout and delivery Tuesday through Friday, 4:30–8:30pm; Saturday 12-8:30pm; Sunday 1-7pm
While this Guatemalan bakery is best known for its empanadas, pastries and bread, the chow mein sandwich is an ode to all carbs. Chow mein came to Guatemala by way of Chinese immigrants who arrived for work opportunities. And the chow mein sandwich is a piece of history that tells a story of patterns of migration through both Guatemala and the United States. —U.R.
Available for takeout daily 6am–7:30pm
3458 Mission St., San Francisco and 2803 Geneva Ave., Daly City
There are many versions of pad see ew all around the Bay Area, but this is a personal favorite. Back in the pre-coronavirus times, I once took this and some green curry along with me for a red eye dinner. Those were the days. —U.R.
Available for takeout daily 11:30am–3pm and 5–10pm