Sushi these days is so ubiquitous that it's easy for it to become an afterthought, a literal last-minute lunch fix from the Whole Foods around the corner. And hey, the ever-increasing availability of sushi that at least qualifies as edible can only be seen as a good thing. But we're not here to talk about grocery stores or places with 17 different kinds of maki that contain cream cheese. We're here to talk about the places that elevate fish to an art form and leave you fondly recalling your meal months after it ended. For truly transcendent sushi, visit these 31 best sushi restaurants in America.
New York's First Japanese Speakeasy Restaurant is a Hidden Gem
San Francisco, California Run by the Lee family for three-plus decades, Akiko's is the rare establishment that excels equally at satisfying the customer looking for a casual date with some make and nigiri and the discerning omakase aficionado waiting to be impressed by Japanese black abalone and miso butter-kissed Hokkaido crab. Bonus: the sake selection is one of the best you'll find anywhere, and the tucked-away, almost cave-like ambiance really lends itself to indulgence.
Portland, Oregon Bamboo's Certified Green status and designation as the world's first certified sustainable sushi joint makes it perhaps the most eco-friendly restaurant in a city that would absolutely, unironically elect Captain Planet mayor if they could. The restaurant has taken green philosophy and expanded it to four casually modernist PDX destinations, with new locations soon to open in Seattle and Denver. Still, philosophy is irrelevant if the sushi isn't great. It is. Sure the careful sourcing means you're paying a little (though not much) more for the Kimono Roll with crab, cucumber, salmon, and pickled apple or the essential pole-caught Korean eel nigiri, but hey, you can feel good about where your money’s going, so go ahead and plop down a Benjamin for that omakase.
Cambridge, Massachusetts Catering to a mix of Harvard students with money who don't quite yet realize just how good they're eating and Hub industry professionals to absolutely do, Cafe Sushi's nondescript moniker and low-key aesthetic fits well with its hidden gem profile, even if the secret is pretty thoroughly out at this point. While hints of their powers appear on the regular menu with signature options like marugo with wasabi oil and smoked sea salt, the generous omakase (prices vary but generally far more affordable than places of comparable quality) is the real draw, provided you're willing to risk dining next to a table of Winklevosses.
San Francisco, California Hashiri immediately became one of San Francisco's priciest sushi indulgences when it debuted in 2016, leaning on the cachet of having an established older sibling restaurant impressing diners in Tokyo. The vibrant, modern dining room is equipped with video projectors that display art installations that change with the seasons, reflecting the also ever-changing menu that earned them a Michelin star in their first effort. The kaiseki menu is split evenly (nine courses each) between sushi and other plated dishes like chilled snap pea broth with ebi and sturgeon caviar.
Chicago, Illinois Chef B.K. Park's Juno (like his prior stop, the much-lauded Arami) had to overcome a closure due to a significant kitchen fire, the departure of Park's front-of-house partner Jason Chan, and probably a slew of bad Michael Cera jokes. Where were we? Oh right, the sushi. Anyone who experiences Park's food is likely to be wowed by showstopping signatures like smoked hamachi presented under a glass dome filled with cherry wood smoke, but also equally impressed by the deft hand and tight execution that informs subtler dishes that speak more softly. Like Michael Cera. Sorry.
Minneapolis, Minnesota Translating to "corner restaurant", Kado no Mise immediately sprang to the forefront of a (better than you're thinking) Twin Cities sushi scene when it opened in 2017 bringing a taste of Tokyo's Edomae-style sushi bars to the Midwest -- there's nary a California roll in sight. There is, however, a sense of history and ritual (meals start with a glass of warm buckwheat tea and a hot towel) and, more importantly, impeccable fish being masterfully prepared under the watch of Tokyo-trained chef Shigeyuki Furukawa. Take a 10-piece tour of nigiri options that you won't find at your average roll joint like kobujime (kelp-cured salmon) or inada (young yellowtail), though more familiar headliners like toro remain showstopping as well. It's a good option if you didn't have the scratch or the foresight for the chef's counter-only omakase, but if you did have those things, you won't be disappointed.
Chicago, Illinois Identical twins Melvin and Carlo Vizconde honed their seafood skills at several Chicago sushi outfits before striking out on their own and establishing an energetic, risk-taking restaurant in a somewhat sleepy Humboldt Park location that wouldn't have previously been considered a likely destination for seekers of high-end sushi. And yet, five years in, it has established itself as a favorite among fish fans (and probably some Phish fans?) on the strength of an omakase marked by innovative flavors and plating and creations like the Orange Rush, which takes seared salmon wrapped around a citrus-kissed scallop and presents it on a scallop shell. Whichever twin thought of it was on his game that day.
Las Vegas, Nevada Chef Eric Kim already had a devoted following for his perpetually bustling (and aptly named) Yummy Grill & Sushi, but he further elevated his game when he opened this adjacent omakase-only joint in early 2016, with space for just eight diners and time for just two seatings per night to enjoy his memorable 16-20 course journeys. As one would expect menus are steadily in flux based on seasonality and availability, but Kim is particularly fond of live preparations (octopus tentacle anyone?) and sourcing hard-to-find seafood from all over like hairy crabs from Hokkaido. Ignore the name: They're fantastic.
Honolulu, Hawaii The wealth of quality seafood in Hawaii is overwhelming, and in Honolulu the allure of modernist, fancy places serving sashimi often serves as smoke and mirrors hiding pricy mediocrity. Kin Chan ditches all frills, and its no-bullshit approach to incredible, fresh, expertly prepared sushi makes it the hole-in-the-wall choice for many a local who knows that true quality is assessed purely on what’s atop that sushi rice. The 12-seater is simple, with bamboo art, glowing sake bottles, and a scant three people working the scene. The Kin Chan special will net you an emperor’s share of seasonally appropriate sushi and sashimi, with Japanese river real, otoro tuna belly, and king crab standouts of the simple, exquisite roster. The room populated with returning locals is the first evidence that you’re in great, skilled hands here.
Chicago, Illinois You know the tried-and-true story -- a sushi chef who made a name for himself in Texas heads north to Chicago to open up an immediately game-changing, reservation-only omakase restaurant with Michelin star aspirations. Okay fine we actually hadn't heard that story until Otto Phan left Austin and made waves with sushi lovers throughout Chicagoland with the opening of Kyoten earlier this year, which can be a bit of a problem when you're only offering two seatings a night at your minimalist eight-seat sushi counter. But the attention paid to everything from the fish flown in from Japanese markets to the freshly grated wasabi to the sake program that proves a worthy companion to the seafood makes scoring a seat at the table worth the effort and the funds.
Seattle, Washington At 113 years old, Maneki’s got stories -- fun fact: in the 1930s, one of Maneki’s dishwashers was Takeo Miki, who later served as Japan’s prime minister -- but so does everybody who enters. This is a place where memories have been forged over great sushi for generations, a legend for longevity, sure, but also because of the extremely high quality that has remained a hallmark for more than a century. Affordable sushi is blanketed in unexpectedly large and impossibly flavorful fish, while drinks are poured with a side of sass by octogenarian Mom, herself a legend with a half a century behind the bar. You’re in Seattle, so make sure to get salmon two ways: in nigiri form, and as the lightly breaded legend known as nankin.
Honolulu, Hawaii Executive chef and owner Takeshi Kawasaki made a name for himself running a Michelin-starred restaurant of the same name in Sapporo, Japan that he opened during the Reagan administration. It's still going strong (his son runs the show now), but Kawasaki decided he was ready for the laid-back Hawaiian lifestyle but not quite the laid-back retired Hawaiian lifestyle. His decision to open a borderline carbon copy of his original outpost (and to ship in many of the essentials from his native Hokkaido) has been a boon to a Hawaiian sushi scene that is already beyond robust given its Pacific location and significant Japanese population. Hopefully the allure of surfing and beach cocktails doesn't spark a full-on retirement anytime soon.
New York, New York Masa Takayama's renowned restaurant made big news last year when it raised prices to accommodate the complete elimination of tipping, adding to what was already one of the country's most expensive meals. Yes, $595 a person before considering tax, alcohol, and possible supplements like Ohmi beef and white truffle ice cream, is out of the realistic range for many diners even on the most special of special occasions. That said, when you're roundly considered one of the world's finest practitioners of your craft and you've been one of the handful of NYC restaurants to be bestowed three Michelin stars for nearly a decade, the demand is likely to continually meet your price.
Portland, Maine Masa Miyake has spent more than a decade presiding over the premier Japanese restaurant in the East Coast's favorite Portland, establishing it as a destination that could hold its own in many markets more densely populated with sushi standouts. Yes, a lobster roll has a slightly different construction here, perfumed with truffle oil and wrapped with spicy mayo in black sesame soy paper. For those who don't want to go full omakase, there's a malleable four-course tasting menu showcasing many items from Miyake's own personal farm.
Las Vegas, Nevada If Kame's off-the-Strip, speakeasy-style vibe cuts a bit against the stereotypical Vegas flash and opulence, Mizumi represents the polar opposite. If enjoying your meal next to a koi pond surrounded by a lush Japanese garden as your gaze travels upward to a 90-foot waterfall better represents the Vegas sushi experience you had in mind, Mizumi is your spot. Of course, there's plenty of substance behind all the style (think yellowtail sashimi with jalapeño gelee and cilantro oil), though depending on your appetite, you might want to get on a blackjack hot streak at the Wynn before you sit down to dinner.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania The Iron Chef who gives this ultra-modern, day-glo, Tokyo-in-the-US joint its name (no, dummy, it’s not Bobby Flay) may seldom wield the knives behind Philly’s best sushi joint these days, but he looms large over every single slice of expertly cut sashimi. From the standout toro to yellowtail tartare, Morimoto packs more species of delicious fish than Finding Dory. As is typically the case, omakase is key here, and chefs will deliver course after course of big hits immaculately plated. Unlike most super-fancy joints with a world-famous owner, though, that chef’s choice option won’t put a massive crater in your wallet. Pair it with a huge array or sake, or the profoundly delicious yuzu julep.
Los Angeles, California You know what you should get at Mori, arguably the finest and most revered traditional sushi joint in the nigiri-rich City of Angels? Whatever the hell they tell you. The house that Morihiro Onodera built (he’s there now but in spirit, having retired) is omakase-only and designed around the Japanese-caught fish and farmers market-sourced ingredients available. There might not be a better place to drop $150+ on a dinner in Los Angeles. Each slice of fish will be treated with tender love and attention, each grain of rice obsessed over by perfectionists who also make the tofu and soy sauce in house. This is sushi as a luxury, and when the chefs care so deeply about your experience that it’s best to let them do their beautiful thing.
Honolulu, Hawaii Morio's may not offer the most refined presentations or rigidly precise execution among the restaurants on this list, but there's a reason it's consistently booked up months in advance. Morio's legendarily gregarious chef and proprietor presides over a sort of BYOB-fueled sushi party where he's just as likely to do a shot of sake with a guest as he is wow them with some incredibly prepared hamachi collar or delightfully fresh uni. The fact that he's able to seamlessly pull off both feats is what makes Morio's one of the singular sushi outposts in the country and a favorite among Hawaiians looking for an unpretentious and well-priced omakase experience.
Portland, Oregon Of course in Portland some of the best sushi from a popup turned brick-and-mortar supper club run by the awesomely named Ryan Roadhouse who specializes in “hardcore” 13-21 course tasting menus, with the occasional Hardcore Sushi seating popping up and selling out occasionally. So, what does that mean? It’s hard to say, since Roadhouse and crew design the menu 48 hours before the meal after scouring the best markets in the area for ingredients. The only certainty in this "for adventurous eaters only" approach to culinary improv? There will be seafood. Probably some meat. And at the end, the most unexpected sushi preparations you've ever seen will roll out in an intimate, wildly entertaining, singular experience. Provided you jump on tickets immediately, of course. Which is to say, set a Google alert.
San Francisco, California As if you haven't encountered the word "omakase" enough so far in this piece, here's a restaurant that put it right in the name! But while the moniker may not exhibit the height of creativity, there's no shortage of energy in chef Jackson Yu's skills, on display in two different omakase menus available each night at slightly different price points at the unassuming 14-seat sushi counter the channels the hidden, no-frills sushi standouts prevalent in Japan, which also serves as the source for much of fish on the Michelin-starred menu.
Boston, Massachusetts It's been nearly a decade since The New York Times' Frank Bruni declared Tim Cushman's O Ya the best new restaurant in America, and while the "new" label no longer applies, it remains a singular destination. Cushman famously took an unconventional path to sushi stardom, with a culinary career that started as a means of supporting musical aspirations and eventually led to a stint traveling to different parts of the world (including Japan, clearly) as a restaurant consultant. To paraphrase Ferris Bueller, if you have the means, the omakase is so choice, but (paraphrasing done) many signature items like the beloved foie gras nigiri are also available a la carte.
Los Angeles, California Chef Hiroyuki Naruke isn’t just the star of Q Sushi, he’s its entire reason for being: long story short, dude spent nearly three decades as a superstar itamae before a group of sushi-obsessed LA lawyers goaded him to the California. He accepted, and since 2013 he’s been elevating the already great scene one omakase seating at a time. About that omakase: it’s a steep buy-in at $165-$250, but once the plates start flying, you’ll end up plowing through 20 artfully crafted, insanely fresh (except for the cured stuff, of course) nigiri and sashimi with each component pored over by the master. On balance, it’s a small price to pay for a meal that will stick in your memories forever.
New York, New York Jimmy Lau and Nick Kim honed their skills under Masa Takayama, so it's not surprising that Shuko became one of New York's hottest and most loved sushi destinations almost immediately upon opening a few years back. You can opt for a classic omakase or throw down a little more for the combination both sushi and other composed dishes on the kaiseki menu. Whichever route you go, expect to come away dazzled and experiencing several courses about which you'll have food dreams for weeks.
Seattle, Washington Seattle’s iconic Pike Place Market is famous for its fishmongers, who toss the daily catch with the abandon of a loaded Frisbee golfer. So when we say Sushi Kashiba -- located in the market and run by an absolute legend of the Seattle scene -- brings the freshness, we’re not joking. Omakase will run you a bill here, but it’ll be worth it as the steady stream of South Pacific tuna, Norwegian mackerel, and Puget shellfish hit the table in rapid succession. Yeah, the locals will say Pike Place is for tourists. But those same locals are still dodging the crowds -- and flying fish -- to get a taste of what Chef Shiro is slicing.
New York, New York When discussing Sushi Nakazawa, it's more or less obligatory to mention chef Daisuke Nakazawa's appearance as an apprentice striving to perfect a perfect egg custard under the watchful eye of Jiro Ono in the celebrated documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi. It may be doing a bit of a disservice to the excellence Nakazawa has exhibited since striking out on his own, but it's also impossible to ignore said apprenticeship in considering the similarly precise and considered approach takes to perfecting specimens of fatty tuna and Japanese uni. And yes, there's egg custard on the menu.
San Diego, California San Diego is a city where great seafood is hidden all over, and its strip malls often house some of the best restaurants in town. Such is the case with Sushi Ota, which looks like it could be a shady dentistry practice -- it's parked next door to a 7-Eleven -- but in fact represents the best sushi in the city. The sashimi is the stuff of legend; the uni here will forever be your benchmark for quality urchin; and specialty rolls like the Pizza (it’s basically a California roll topped with eel sauce) manage to be at once playful and innovative. Even better, it’s served by an army of master chefs at strip-mall prices, so you can feast away, grab some Tums next door, and still have money for brunch the next day.
Sausalito, California Some argue that the best sushi in San Francisco isn’t actually in San Francisco proper, but rather in affluent Marin County at the fabled Sushi Ran, where sashimi is sliced from glorious specimens handpicked and flown in daily from Tsukiji Market in Tokyo as well as Bay Area fishermen. Each individual piece is presented with a loving aesthetic touch, some so ornate that they look like they came from Poseidon's personal florist, ready to be worn on a nice suit rather than dipped soy and blissfully consumed. Don’t sleep on the Dungeness crab if it’s in season, and definitely get the game-changing scallop chive dumplings. Even cooler: Getting there from the city means a ferry ride, which is incredible, unless you get seasick, in which case this is probably a tremendous waste of money.
Washington, DC When attempting to navigate the DC sushi scene, it's generally a safe bet to opt for the place that's consistently a favorite among Japanese embassy workers and visiting diplomats. Sushi Taro specializes and kaiseki, with multiple seasonally inspired options at different price points on offer at any given time. There's also a special chef-guided omakase where diners can direct their own experiences based on preferences. All that said, Sushi Taro isn't solely for special occasions -- their happy hour is legendary for people looking for an economical way to enjoy some serious sushi and a few Japanese beers.
Atlanta, Georgia Osaka-born Tomo Naito came to America in pursuit of a theater degree, but a series of restaurant jobs and another gig sourcing fish for a Japanese trading company set him on a different path that led to him working the omakase station at Nobu in Las Vegas and, later, emerging as Atlanta's premier sushi chef. Several years have passed since he upgraded from his original strip mall digs to a more glitzy Buckhead home, but the execution of signature creations like the Lobster a la Musso -- an indulgent amalgam of lobster sashimi and uni with yuzu ponzu, white truffle oil, and quail egg -- thankfully has not.
Miami, Florida Sushi has become as prevalent in Miami as outdated cocaine humor and ill-advised thongs, with rolls popping up in bodegas and high-end hotels alike. But before all that, Toni’s was making some of the best sushi in town, a tradition that has remained relatively unchanged for three decades. Toni’s serves up straightforward sushi standards by the piece or in a remarkably affordable chef’s choice roster, plus rolls as varied as a standard eel-heavy dragon and a decadent whole-tail lobster tempura, which at $24 manages to be at once the most expensive thing on the menu and cheaper than a seafood chain’s comparable offering. Which is to say, Toni’s is as notable for what it is -- one of the best sushi places in Florida -- as for what it isn’t: expensive and overwrought.
Austin, Texas A pioneer in Austin’s explosive food scene since 2002, Uchi's run James Beard Award-winner Tyson Cole, who elevated the entire scene with his commitment to inventive, immaculately sourced sushi. Uchi nails both traditional preparations and off-the-wall innovations like its iconic Machi Cure, a concoction of smoked yellowtail, crisp yuca, almonds, and pears whose playful nickname -- Japanese nachos -- belies the complex, transcendent flavor contained therein. Basically, everything here is art for the eye and the tastebuds. And while Uchi more or less ruined sushi for lucky Austinites, its innovation has drawn some of the city’s top culinary talent, making the bungalow-housed fine-dining destination a springboard for chefs destined to open their own game-changing concepts.
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Matt Lynch is perpetually thankful he does not have a shellfish allergy. He keeps it raw (get it?!) @MLynchChi
Andy Kryza did not harm any crustaceans in the production of this article, but lord knows other people did on his behalf. Admonish him @APKryza