Food

Birria Ramen, Spicy Pozole, and More Super-Comforting Soups Around DC

Soups and stews for breakfast, brunch, and dinner.

Curry me noodle soup at Makan. Photograph by Albert Ting

We could eat soup for three meals a day when it’s dreary out (yes, even for breakfast). These are some of our favorite warming bowls—many available for takeout and delivery as well as dine-in.

Curry mee noodle soup at Makan
3400 11th St., NW
The flavor-packed curry noodle soup at this Malaysian restaurant in Columbia Heights doesn’t just get winter points for warmth—the sunny bowl is bound to improve your mood. Creamy coconut broth swims with two types of noodles (egg and glass), plus crispy tofu, chicken sausage, tangy pickled greens, and sambal. It can also be made vegetarian. Dine-in, takeout, and delivery.

Avgolemono soup at Greek Deli 
1120 19th St., NW 
We crave Kostas Fostieris’s creamy, lemony avgolemono soup when the temperature drops—as have downtown crowds for the past 30-plus years. It’s both comforting and bright—and makes the best desk lunch. Takeout and delivery.

Birria ramen from Little Miner Taco. Photograph by Rey Lopez

Birria ramen at Little Miner Taco
967 Rose Ave, North Bethesda
Birria tacos are having a moment—who doesn’t love tortillas stuffed with braised meat that you can dunk in a soul-warming broth? Now imagine that dish in ramen form, filled with springy noodles and topped with corn, radishes, and avocado. It’s available exclusively at the Block food hall at Pike & Rose (the Brookland location dishes up birria but not ramen). And if you’re a birria fan in general, check out our guide to birria tacos, pizza, and more. Takeout and dine-in.

Triple threat ramen from Menya Hosaki
845 Upshur St., NW (1st Floor)
Eric Yoo’s Petworth ramen shop has become an obsession with chefs and ramen fans alike. The triple threat—an homage to Yoo’s mentor, Keizo Shimamoto of NYC’s Ramen Shack—blends three styles of broth (porky tonkotsu, clear chicken chintan, and smoky dashi) topped with pork belly, egg, bamboo shoots, spinach, and scallions. Takeout and dine-in.

Samgyetang juk at Anju
1805 18th St., NW
When it comes to a comforting brunch bowl, chef Angel Barreto’s savory Korean rice porridge does the trick. The creamy juk is topped with pulled chicken, pine nuts, scallions, chili crunch, and a runny egg. Dine-in, takeout, and delivery.

Juk, Korean rice porridge, makes for a comforting brunch at Anju. Photograph by LeadingDC

Dumpling soup (with a side of soup dumplings) at Bob’s Shanghai 66
305 N. Washington St., Rockville
We’re all about the dumplings at this popular Rockville spot, and you can’t get just one kind. Think of this order as soup two ways: juicy soup dumplings that are so flavorful you barely need the dipping vinegar (go for classic pork or another version with crab), plus a steaming bowl of Shanghai-style pork wonton soup. Dine-in, takeout, and delivery.

Pozole rojo (chicken or vegan) at Cielo Rojo
7056 Carroll Ave, Takoma Park
It’s easy to channel warm vibes at this homey, family-owned Mexican spot in Takoma Park. Owners David Perez and Carolina McCandless met working at a vegan Mexican spot in San Francisco, so you’ll find plenty of meatless options on the menu, including the hearty pozole filled with red hominy and topped with avocado, cashew cream, queso fresco, radishes, onions, and lime (chicken is optional). Dine-in and takeout.

Pozole at Cielo Rojo. Photograph courtesy of Cielo Rojo

Arroz caldo at Kuya Ja’s Lechon Belly
5268-H Nicholson Ln., Rockville
The comfort factor of this Filipino spot’s crisp-skinned lechon (pork belly) is already high. But a bowl of arroz caldo puts that order over the top. The chicken-and-rice porridge is topped with egg, chicken cracklings, and garlic. Dine-in, takeout, and delivery.

All the soups at Shibuya Eatery and Shabu Plus
2321 18th St., NW
If you’re craving Japanese soups and hot pot, chef Darren Norris’s emporium in Adams Morgan is a worthy destination. The izakaya and bar menu boast delicious homemade udon and soba noodle soups; we love the hot soba with mushroom-dashi broth and the udon simmered with shaved wagyu beef and onions. Norris also just added ramen to the lineup. If you’re looking for a date night soup experience (who isn’t?), Shabu Plus is your destination. The dining room specializes in Japanese hot pot with long-simmered broths (we go for the duck), fancy meats and seafood for swishing, and more of those delicious homemade noodles.  Dine-in, takeout, and delivery.

Mushroom soba (left) and shaved waygu udon (right) from Shibuya Eatery. Photograph courtesy of Shibuya Eatery

All the soups at Pho Sate
2814 Graham Rd., Falls Church
There’s no shortage of great pho spots in NoVa. We’re partial to this Vietnamese soup house for its variety—whether classic beef pho or rich duck broth swimming with egg noodles—and its house sate sauce made with wok-toasted chilies and garlic in oil. Mixed soup bowls with rice and egg noodles or wontons are a great way to go for the indecisive. Dine-in and takeout.

All the French onion soups
You can’t go wrong with any of the bubbling, cheesy cauldrons at brasseries like Convivial in Shaw, Parc de Ville in Fairfax, Le Diplomate in Logan Circle, and more.

French onion soup DC, Le Diplomate
French onion soup at Le Diplomate. Photograph courtesy of Le Diplomate

Barcat oyster chowder at Rappahannock Oyster Bar
Locations at the Wharf and Union Market
Some chowders are more like cream soups. Not this one. Hearty bowls come packed with plump local oysters, smoky Benton’s bacon, leeks, and potato. Add a dash or two of the house hot sauce. Dine-in and takeout.

Creamy pot-pie soup from Prescription Chicken
Delivery only
Long before ghost kitchens were cool, this delivery and takeout chicken soup service was soothing customers with matzo ball and/or noodle soups (also available at local groceries). We’re fans of this newer addition to the lineup: basically chicken pot pie in soup form packed with pulled chicken, corn, potatoes, and sautéed veggies. Don’t forget a challah roll for dunking. Delivery and takeout.

Spicy beef noodle soup at A&J
4316 Markham St., Annandale; 1319 Rockville Pike, Rockville
These dim sum houses have a large, loyal following for their dumplings, beef rolls, and other small plates. We also love tucking into a bowl of the robust beef noodle soup, which can make a meal in itself. Dine-in, takeout, and delivery.

Spicy beef noodle soup at A&J. Photograph by Scott Suchman

Saimin at Hatoba
300 Tingey St., SE #170
The Daikaya Group makes some of the best ramen in town—and they’ve really mastered the takeout/delivery game during the pandemic (our current obsession: a springtime truffle-chicken ramen at Bantam King in Chinatown). But! While thinking outside the box—and ramen bowl—check out the Hawaiian revamp of newly reopened Navy Yard shop Hatoba, which is fully embracing its new island identity. Chef Katsuya Fukushima makes his own version of saimin: thin noodles swimming in pork, chicken, beef, and katsuobushi (tuna flake) soup topped with naruto (fish cakes), egg ribbons, pork belly, chashu, and scallions. Dine-in

Budea jeongol at To Sok Jip
7211 Columbia Pk., Annandale
If you’re doubtful that soup can be a meal, meet the Korean casserole dish at this popular Annandale mainstay. It arrives blazing hot and bubbling on a burner, packed with rice cakes, ramen noodles, soft kimchee, and hunks of hot dog. Patrons once had to wait in line, but thanks to the pandemic, you can now pre-order online for pickup too. Dine-in and takeout.

Army stew—with ramen noodles and hot dogs—at To Sok Jip. Photo by Scott Suchman

 

Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.