12 Essential Sushi Spots You Need to Know in San Diego

From casual sushi counters to over-the-top omakase experiences.

Mikami Bar & Revolving Sushi
Photo courtesy of Mikami Bar & Revolving Sushi

With 70 miles of coastline in San Diego County alone, along with Baja California and the whole Pacific Northwest, San Diegans enjoy a fresh seafood bounty that our landlocked counterparts can only dream of. It stands to reason, then, that we also are home to an abundance of outstanding sushi restaurants. From casual, laidback sushi feasting to refined, specially curated omakase encounters and Michelin-starred sensations, San Diego’s sushi restaurants deliver the experience you’re craving. Here are a dozen of our favorite spots to satisfy your cravings:

Ikiru Sushi
Photo by Carol Poon, courtesy of Ikiru Sushi

Ikiru Sushi

Liberty Station

This tiny shop tucked into the long corridors of Liberty Station’s The Quarter consistently turns out some of the finest, freshest nigiri in the city, as well as colorful, inventive rolls, which come fresh, seared, baked, or deep fried. We love the Orange Crush roll, with spicy scallops and cucumber inside, salmon, ponzu, and garnishes of scallions and sriracha on the outside, or the Panko Special Deep Fried Roll, stuffed with tuna, shrimp tempura, masago, gobo, and avocado inside, and lots of crunchy panko and a drizzle of eel sauce on top. Before you order, though, be sure to check out the chalkboard for specials, which features special fresh catch delicacies that aren’t on the regular menu. The restaurant itself is small, but there’s plenty of outdoor tables on the promenade to enjoy takeout.
How to book: Seating is on a first-come basis. Call 619-221-1228 for takeout.

Soichi
Photo courtesy of SOICHI

SOICHI

University Heights

After stints at Surfside Sushi in Pacific Beach and Michelin-starred Sushi Tadokoro in Old Town, Soichi Kadoya opened his own restaurant in 2019, earning a Michelin star of his own in 2021. Unlike Sushi Tadakoro’s edomae-style sushi, Soichi specializes in omakase-style fare, served three ways—a petite omakase with three tasting dishes to start, six pieces of nigiri sushi, soup, and homemade ice cream; a regular nigiri omakase with four tasting dishes and twelve pieces of nigiri, soup, and ice cream; and an eight-course omakase specially selected by chef Soichi. In addition, there’s nigiri by the piece, various cut rolls, and a big futomaki roll, plus chirashi bowls, chawan mushi, and an impressive selection of sake. Their fish is sourced from Japanese waters, and shipped same-day to the restaurant, so you’re getting the best of the best. Reservations are booked well in advance and sell out quickly, so check their website for availability.
How to book: Reservations can be made via Tock. Call 619-677-2220 for takeout.

The Yasai By Rakiraki
Photo courtesy of @cinfullyfoodie

The Yasai

Little Italy & Convoy District

Junya Watanabe’s latest concept combines his Convoy District and Little Italy restaurant clusters—The Yasai by RakiRaki, his vegan sushi spot, and Matsuoka, its non-vegan counterpart, along with Raki Raki Ramen and JCK, Junya’s Crispy Karaage, into one-stop open spaces. To replicate the texture and flavor of conventional sushi, chef Hajime Matsuoka ferments, torches, grills, smokes, boils, and fries various vegetables, depending on the type—each vegetable requires a different treatment, and sometimes a combination of two or more steps are necessary. Chef Matsuoka also helms the sushi menu at his namesake Matsuoka with nigiri, sushi rolls, temari sushi, a traditional ball-shaped sushi, and seasonal kaiseki bento boxes.
How to book: Reservations for The Yasai can be made online. Order takeout via your favorite location.

Offering more than 70 types of sushi, the 6,000-square-foot, kaiten-zushi style restaurant is one of California’s largest revolving sushi venues. Head chef Aiden KT Lee’s menu includes a mix of innovative sushi dishes, popular rolls, appetizers, sides, and entrées that glide by diners on color-coded plates. In addition to the sushi options, booths are equipped with touchscreen tablets so guests can order appetizers, ramen, udon, yakisoba, fried rice, and additional entrees, domestic and international wine, and a wide selection of beer from local breweries.
How to book: Reservations can be made online. Walk-ins are accepted if seating is available.

Available for Reservations
Lumi
Photo courtesy of Lumi

Lumi

Gaslamp Quarter

Lumi, the Gaslamp Quarter’s energetic rooftop concept, features contemporary Japanese fare with Nikkei and Korean influences created by Michelin-starred chef Akira Back. The sushi menu showcases inventive specialty rolls, including luxurious Alaskan king crab, surf and turf, A5 Wagyu nigiri, and daily off-menu selections. Let the sushi chef surprise you with Nazo 9, a mystery box of nine dishes that aren’t revealed until they’re placed in front of you. Pair your meal with sips from the largest selection of top-tier Japanese whiskies in the city, Akira Back’s own sake, or a Toki Japanese Highball machine that yields ice-cold, lusciously fizzy, perfectly-blended cocktails.
How to book: Reservations can be made via SevenRooms. Order takeout by calling 619-329-5864 or delivery via third-party options.

Available for Delivery/Takeout
Bang Bang
Photo by Sara Norris

Bang Bang

Downtown

Bang Bang was forced to shutter permanently during the pandemic, but we were thrilled to see it reopen this spring under new management. They’ve pretty much kept the place as it was, including the gigantic disco ball, and yes, the notorious Ryan Gosling ladies’ room. Expect a great selection of nigiri, sashimi, and a list of specialty rolls like Hello Kitty (spicy tuna, shrimp tempura, avocado in a pink soy paper topped with bay scallops, tempura flakes, chili aioli, and eel sauce). If you don’t like your Bruce Lee roll with a side of party, you can always mellow out in the sushi room.
How to book: Reservations can be made online. Walk-ins are accepted if seating is available.

Available for Reservations
Sushi Ota
Photo by Sara Norris

Sushi Ota

Pacific Beach

You normally wouldn’t expect to find amazing sushi in a strip mall tucked between car dealerships and a 7-Eleven, but that’s what makes Sushi Ota a hidden gem. Despite the unspectacular location, it's usually packed (okay, maybe not THAT hidden), so unless you like hanging out in parking lots, make a reservation. You can order rolls if you want, but what they’re really known for is their spot-on, fresh sashimi and some of the most reliably delicious uni in town.
How to book: Call the restaurant at 858-270-5670 to reserve a table or order takeout. Walk-ins are accepted if seating is available.

The Joint
Photo by Sara Norris

The Joint

Ocean Beach 

In true OB fashion, The Joint is doing something a little different—serving a long list of legit sushi and specialty rolls in addition to a tapas menu that has absolutely nothing to do with Asian fare. No matter what kind of sushi you like, you’d be hard pressed not to find something you love on their list—like the tuna poke or the Bomb-A-Licious roll full of spicy crab and tempura shishito peppers topped with hamachi, avocado, micro cilantro, habañero, masago, and cilantro pepper sauce.
How to book: Make reservations or order takeout online, or call the restaurant at 619-222-8272. Walk-ins are accepted if seating is available.

Available for Delivery/Takeout
Shiku Sushi Bar
Photo by Sara Norris

In a neighborhood where everything is typically overpriced, Shiku's standout sushi comes with a bonus of solid value. You can’t beat the happy hour roll specials, hot or cold sake for just a few bucks, and their specialty roll menu with cleverly named options like the I’m So Baked roll made with crab, tuna, and cream cheese wrapped in white fish and topped with lobster and jalapeño, then baked with a garlic crab dynamite sauce.
How to book: Seating is on a first-come basis. For takeout call 858-456-7118 or order delivery online.

Available for Delivery/Takeout

If you’re looking to try something a little unexpected, check out Blue Ocean Robata & Sushi Bar in Carlsbad, and their sister restaurant, Blue Ocean | Harumama in La Jolla. In Carlsbad, try skewered meats and veggies cooked on a robata grill with an omakase box, some unique specialty rolls, or a number of plant-based options. Their bar holds a selection of Japanese whisky, sake, a craft cocktail list, and a few sake bomb options, one of which is made with 151. At the La Jolla spot, pair your sushi with some of Hamurama’s adorable character buns in sweet and savory options, or folded bao bao buns stuffed with soft-shell crab, pork belly, or karaage chicken.
How to book: Seating is on a first-come basis. Call 760-434-4959 or order online for takeout or delivery.

Old Town isn’t exactly the part of SD you’d think to visit when a sushi craving hits, but nestled amongst the Mexican restaurants is a little Michelin-starred place serving some of the freshest traditional edomae-style sushi in town. They’re open for lunch and dinner, but the place is small, so now that the secret’s out, reservations are definitely advisable.
How to book: Reservations are available via Tock. Walk-ins are accepted if seating is available. Call the restaurant at 619-297-0298 for takeout.

Harney Sushi

Old Town & Oceanside

Harney has been serving San Diegans for over a decade, and with their dedication to serving sustainable sushi, they can tell you exactly where every piece of their seafood comes from. Both locations have a dimly lit bar vibe with a daily food-and-drink happy hour, in addition to a late-night social hour and live music several nights a week at the Old Town spot.
How to book: Reservations via separate Yelp sites for Old Town and Oceanside. Walk-ins are accepted at both locations if seating is available. Order online for takeout or delivery.

Mary Beth Abate is a San Diego-based freelance writer by way of Chicago and Los Angeles. Her hobbies include yoga, pickling and fermenting stuff, reading cookbooks and drinking fabulous gin. Keep up with her experiments @MaryBeth_Abate.