If the main criteria is to be similar to Ruby + Rails, Python + Django is the right way to go. Beyond the many similarities of Ruby and Python as languages, Django fills the niche for the Python web development ecosystem that Rails does for Ruby; a fully fleshed-out framework, which comes with batteries included.
Many people have had the experience of choosing a lightweight framework (Sinatra, Flask, etc.) and gradually needing more and more features from a heavier framework. Eventually you find that you wrote a poorly documented, poorly implemented version of Django or Rails, and bringing new people onto your team is now far harder than just finding people who've used a specific framework.
> I need that monk like enlightenment which Ruby and Rails have given me.
Then I suggest you scratch both the "popular" and "similar to Ruby and Rails" requirements. When you do that, you have things available to you such as Elm and Reason (with ReasonReact) for the frontend and F#/Haskell/Scala on the backend.
Popular will tend to the lowest common denominator, and similar to what you already know means you won't gain much if at all :)
If you end up listening to this advice and doing away with the "like Ruby/Rails" requirement, but find that a random pair of functional languages is a bit too esoteric, I'd recommend checking out Elixir and Phoenix. Lot's of interesting ideas that can give you that monk-like enlightenment again, but you won't struggle with as many of the problems that are endemic to small ecosystems.
Plus Elixir/Phoenix have been designed web-development first, and won't leave you to reinvent the wheel (or all of Rails), as you often have to when using a more spartan framework.
For PHP, Yii Framework has awesomeness. I just v1 and a bit of v2 (though the simple vs modules split adds more complexity than just having modules always).
The great thing with Yii is performance (efficient generated SQL queries, multilevel caching, mixed eager/lazy loading) and instrumentation for application tuning. Other stuff is like other good frameworks.
If you are looking for something that gives you a very similar feeling to something you already know/love/use, you are likely to find yourself disappointed. Or at the very least, without a good reason motivating you to leave Ruby/Rails, you'll just find yourself returning quickly.
It might be more interesting to ask "what is nothing like Ruby and Rails?" to push yourself to learn something new that's entirely different, can give you new feelings.
If you are interested in exploring truly new things, there's a lot of interesting stuff happening in Universal or Isomorphic JS space (both names are basically for the same thing, and about equally common in usage), some of which becomes very different from the traditional Rails approach to a web backend. (Also, there's a lot of interesting variety in language options from transpiling ES2018 or ESNext to Typescript to increasingly more obscure transpiles to JS languages. I recommend Typescript as the best place to be, for what that is worth, but you'll get a bunch of other opinions pretty easily.) It could be useful experiencing some of that, and get a very different experience from just "Rails but in a another language". Server-side React seems to be getting increasingly popular, and the GraphQL approach to database work can be very different from a traditional ORM approach like ActiveRecord.
Most similar is Django/Python. Nothing even comes close to RoR and Ruby in similarity than Django and Python. The languages are very very similar to one another. The framework less so in smaller ways but very similar overall.
Rails, or in other words Web MVC is the most copied paradigm I’ve seen. Pick almost any modern language and there will be an MVC web stack for it.
I’d pick Node JS given that most web devs end up having to use Node anyway even if just as a build pipeline. Knowing Node better will always be useful. Also the dynamic typing will feel at home for a Ruby dev, and if you want to use types then try Typescript. If you want to go functional there is Purescript, Reason etc. All compile to JS so you can use on Node.
And I believe you. In the end, no language is better than another one in absolute. It all depends on the use case. In mine, Elixir and Go happen to outperform everything else I know but they are probably terrible somewhere else.
But i really don't see the benefit of learning that stack when you already know Ruby+Rails. They are veryyy similar and unless your absolutely need some special Python library, it is simply a matter of personal preference.
I’ve been thinking about this too. React_on_rails makes react really nice with rails for universal rendering.
It seems a pretty great framework similar to rails could be assembled out of typescript, next.js, react, typeorm, webpack, ant design, terraform, postgres, cloudflare workers, cloudflare key value store, rds and by adding model and view generators, plus project and crud scaffolds.