The Absolute Best Sushi In The US

Sushi is one of those unique types of foods that fit into whatever style of meal you're feeling. Going out for sushi can be a high-end, fine-dining event or a casual, laid-back evening. One thing it shouldn't be is bad. It's been said about pizza that even when it's "blah", it's still pretty "mmm". Sushi doesn't have the same leeway. Raw fish served incorrectly won't only sour you on the cuisine, it can make you sick. For that reason alone, having a lock on the best sushi places near you is survival knowledge.

When it comes to eating fresh-sliced cuts of raw fish, you want to do more than just survive, you want to thrive. And there are restaurants all across America that are serving up sushi with a flourish. Some of them are made to suit your most extravagant tastebuds, others sling luxurious flavors in an easy-going fashion. No matter where you are, some of the best sushi in the country isn't far from you. Check this list and then hit the map. The smoothest meal of your seafood-faring life could be right next door.

Masa, New York City

New York City is a place where sushi hopefuls go to test their chops, and seasoned veterans settle to take the art to new heights. So is the case with Masa. This restaurant, helmed by Chef Masa Takayama, embodies the Japanese adjective shibui, which the dictionary defines as meaning an "aesthetic of simple, subtle, and unobtrusive beauty." For Takayama, the bounty of the sea has been a way of existence throughout his entire life. The chef began his journey by working in his family's fish market as a kid. He then went on to study under renowned sushi master Sugiyama Toshiaki.

A 9-seat omakase menu was honed at his first restaurant in Beverly Hills before Chef Takayama arrived in New York to open the eponymous Masa. Here, the key themes of Masa's sushi have been purity and distinctiveness. Travel + Leisure Magazine defines the restaurant as "one of the premier dining experiences in the world." The Michelin Guide, having granted Masa three stars, seems to agree. In early 2020, Masa made headlines by serving an $800 takeaway box. Given that a sit-down meal at the restaurant can cost upwards of $600 per person, this package (which fed four) might be considered a deal by some.

Sushi Taro, Washington, D.C.

Positioned on the Potomac River and just a stone's throw away from the Chesapeake Bay, Washington, D.C., has long been a foodie destination for those seeking quality seafood. Frequent visits of diplomats and dignitaries visiting from Japan have led to an evolution of the high-caliber sushi being common in the nation's capital. Under these conditions, Sushi Taro fits in perfectly. The restaurant has been in business on Dupont Circle since the 1980s, carefully crafting a recognized reputation with every plate. Before learning sushi, Chef Nobu Yamakazi spent time in art school, a creative period that he defines as instrumental to unleashing his culinary creativity (per an interview with StarChefs).

After leaving art school to study the craft of sushi making, Nobu returned from Japan to help lift Sushi Taro to new heights. The Michelin Guide describes the kaiseki meal at the one-star Sushi Taro to be a full-on experience. Here, Chef Nobu's artistic background is on display, course after course. A stack of chilled boxes is brought to each diner, who then select their preferred fish to be turned into sashimi on the spot. If getting into an exclusive spot at the "omakase counter" proves too tough, diners should look towards the a la carte menu, which shows playful pairings of regional foods like blue crab and crunchy Old Bay.

Akiko's Restaurant, San Francisco

Similar to the situation in the District, the combination of a large Japanese community and fresh, readily available seafood has made San Francisco a renowned hub for sushi. Yet, unlike the odd placement of Washington's sushi gem, Akiko's Restaurant benefits from a central location in the City by the Bay. Akiko's has been operating as a family-owned establishment for over 30 years. Throughout those three decades, quality and approachability have been the mission. Akiko's is an example that good things follow when you prioritize access without sacrificing excellence. Whether diners arrive seeking a unique experience or a casual date night, both can be found here.

The key component of Akiko's success is the willingness to honor sushi traditions while exploring modern culinary methods. As is typical in the forward-thinking Bay Area, Akiko's puts a focus on the ecological, opting for sustainable seafood from well-managed sources rather than overfished stocks. At Akiko's, diners can taste bright offerings of ocean trout, freshwater eel, or sea urchin before moving on to a reasonably priced, multiple course nigiri tasting. The omakase counter is one of the most sought-after seats in San Fran. The Michelin Guide assures that the black truffle topped salmon belly is worth the challenge to secure a spot.

Suda Izakaya, Jackson Hole

A ski town set in the middle of the country may seem like a strange place to dine on superior sushi. However, Suda Izakaya challenges the assumption that quality seafood can only be found near the ocean. Because of its place on the map, you likely won't find Suda rubbing shoulders with other frequently mentioned foodie hotspots on similar "Best Of" lists. Despite Jackson's relative obscurity (and status as the highest per-capita income city in America), this spot is both reasonably affordable and explosive in flavor. As such, it goes toe-to-toe with some of the best sushi spots in the country.

The focus of an Izakaya shop is typically on sake, and Suda certainly excels here. While other Japanese dishes are represented with respect across the katsu, ramen, and yakimono menus, it is Chef Dustin Rasnick's 10 years of sushi training that shines through on the nigiri, sashimi, and various maki menus. Wife Liz Rasnick runs the dining room as sharply as the chef's knives that are slicing through daily specials. Here, diners can delight in octopus paired with umami-packed togarashi, or the vegetarian Ya'sai roll, filled with a grocery store's worth of locally-sourced vegetables. If you find yourself feeling swayed by the Western ambience of Jackson Hole, satisfy that rancher's craving with premium A5 wagyu crudo. It comes served with a dot of wasabi and a flavor that stays on your tongue long after you've fallen out of the saddle at the nearby Million-Dollar Cowboy Bar.

The Brothers Sushi, Los Angeles

Looking outside of the heartland, sushi fanatics will naturally congregate to the culinary capital of Los Angeles to get their fix. Claiming one establishment as the "best" sushi in L.A. is a futile task (one that's liable to become a heated argument). We'll never have a comprehensive list of all the life-changing dinners that are taking place in the City of Angels. Still, among the legions of sushi spots that span LA, there are a few that stand out as shortlisted contenders to the title. Being on that list would also classify restaurants like The Brothers Sushi as some of the finest in the country.

At The Brothers Sushi, you're not just trying the best take on a foreign country's cuisine, you're having an international experience. Time Out reports that Chef Mark Okuda has delicacies such as toro (a fatty tuna), ebi (shrimp), and scallops flown in from seafood markets around the globe. An in-house sake expert makes the meal a well-rounded experience. Although, with sashimi specials like yellowtail tuna smoked on Japanese cherrywood, that is already a given. The Brothers Sushi offers multiple coursed omakase meals, and the a la carte menu is always ready should you want to get lost on your own. Between goldeneye snapper, dry aged ora king salmon, and fresh barracuda, you may want to let the experts be your guide.

Kai Zan, Chicago

Among the food capitals of the U.S., some say "best sushi" better than others. Oceanside cities often tend to say it louder, but being near the Atlantic or Pacific isn't a requirement these days. Still, it can be hard to shake a reputation, and for a lot of eaters, Chicago is synonymous with specialty hotdogs and deep-dish pizza. For others, it is a city of high-end fine dining experiences. Kai Zan is a Windy City-based sushi joint that meets in the middle of these two scenes. In reviews, Kai Zan is described as polished, but not extravagant; modern, yet not pompous (per Time Out). After all — this is the restaurant with a breathtaking omakase menu that can be scored for under $100. A rarity in the world of best sushi restaurants.

Kai Zan has been serving fine fish since 2012. Now, '12 may be only ten years ago, but we all know the world is a different place these days. Tucking into sushi as good as Kai Zan's madai carpaccio (Japanese red snapper) or the salmon-wrapped Orange Rush scallops is a joyful experience that can bring you back to easier days. That said, it is clean, sharp daily specials like quail egg cracked over toro maki which are silky enough to make you glad of living life in the present. Buttery fish has a certain way of doing that.

Nobu, Las Vegas

In the city of Las Vegas, indulgence is everything. As that reputation goes, regardless of having been plopped into one of the world's driest places, far away from any nearby port of call, Vegas is still the place to find sinfully good sushi. Like its sister city of L.A., Las Vegas has too many primo restaurants to count. You can find any style of food you crave here, and it may just be the best you've ever had. When it comes to the high-level sushi establishments, it's easier to narrow things down to one chef, and two locations (per Las Vegas Magazine). The sushi master Nobu Matsuhisa and his self-named establishments rule the Vegas sushi scene.

Sushi aficionados can pick between a visit to the original sushi Nobu in Virgin Hotels, Las Vegas, or a trip to one of the world's largest Nobu Restaurants in Caesars Palace. (These days, there are locations worldwide). At the latter, diners get the opportunity to sample sushi in edomae style: One smooth, clean piece at a time. And when it comes to eating at a Nobu outside of the Vegas location, the New York Times reports that the pomp and circumstance may look different, but the exceptional flavors and experience remain across all restaurants. Chef Nobu is an original, and his name still serves some of the best fish around.

Nodoguro, Portland, Oregon

A lifetime of experience is valuable in the sushi world, but it doesn't take long-time royalty to slice a prime piece of fish. Chef Ryan Roadhouse has made Nodoguro of Portland, Oregon an example of this. Portland checks the "seaside city" box, making it a reasonable place to expect to find some of the country's best sushi. Here, chefs have exceptional access to lush, just-harvested ocean critters. Superior ingredients considered, sometimes it is best to let the food do the talking.

This is how Nodoguro began: Supreme sushi, served in pop-up style, no restaurant walls needed. Eventually, Chef Roadhouse opened a brick-and-mortar. Even with steady digs, the 13 to 21-course menu of kappo-style sushi is planned only days before service, remaining constantly in flux and dependent on whatever is popping up in the seafood markets. That flexibility has been crucial in allowing Roadhouse to move with the times.

The pandemic has unraveled many restaurants, and unfortunately a planned spin-off of Nodoguro was shuttered due to no fault of its own (per The Oregonian). Then, Roadhouse made the call to decline reopening Nodoguro's Southeast Portland address. However, this seems to have given him time to take his sushi game back to its roots. A social media post writes that Chef Roadhouse is planning to bring Nodo's world-class cuisine back in pop-up style, but as for a spot at the sushi bar, that will have to wait.

Maneki, Seattle

Fresh faces and ingenious talent may help the craft of sushi evolve, but it is tradition that gives it direction. In America, there are few sushi establishments as historic as Maneki. Conde Nast Traveler writes that this establishment has been a pillar of Seattle's Japanese community since 1904. Eons of salmon fertilized the ground that Seattle was built on, and for over 100 years, Maneki has specialized in serving that fundamental local foodstuff in the purest way possible.

The owners of Maneki reckons that its long history means that it was the first sushi house in all of Seattle. In fact, it is one of the oldest Japanese restaurants in all of the country. Only one of us was there, so there's no room to argue. This may not be the most inventive or boundary-pushing sushi you've ever had, but it is an original. That's not something easily replicated. The expansive menu covers all the sushi basics a hungry eater wants, and plenty they never knew they needed. Bring your family, because Maneki specializes in large, shared-style plates and a homey, casual atmosphere.

Makoto, Miami

Miami brings all the glitz and glam of a fine dining mecca and combines it will an abundance of locally available fish. For 20 years, Chef Makoto Okuwa has sharpened the method of edomae-sushi. His approach has been formed over a lifetime of work in the craft — Makoto began apprenticing under sushi masters at just 15 years old. His study of sushi has taken him across all the major American sushi cities, from Washington to New York, from Las Vegas to Bal Harbor, Miami. Despite now owning restaurants in Panama and Mexico City, Chef Okuwa calls the Miami-based, eponymous Makoto home.

At Makoto, the sushi is experimental and faultless (per reviews from the Miami New Times). When you are an alumnus of Iron Chef, there is no room for error. The bright sushi at Makoto is inspired by the gleaming scenery of the area, and ingredients are carefully selected with the same influence. Kanpachi (amberjack) is listed alongside ono (wahoo) and Hirame (Summer Flounder), each providing a pristine taste of the region that is unmatched in freshness.

Uchi, Austin

When foodies think about the cuisines of Texas, its barbeque and fusion Mexican foods that probably come to mind. As the business world has boomed extreme growth through the Texan capital city of Austin, it has brought in a wider group of people. In turn, those people brought their tastebuds. These days, finding fall-off-the-bone ribs in "Silicone Hills" is as easy as getting top-notch sushi. As Business Insider has it, there is one restaurant that is better than just being Austin-worthy. Uchi (and its spinoff Uchiko) has some of the best sushi in the country.

Chef Tyson Cole spent 10 years studying across Tokyo and America. He has received a James Beard Award for his efforts at the delightfully small Uchi. Since 2003, the bungalow has been a pilgrimage destination for those seeking a non-traditional taste of uniquely prepared sushi.

At Uchi, makimono-style pork belly is matched with the complex flavors of Japanese togarashi seasoning, and just one column over Bigeye Tuna is paired with goat cheese and pumpkin seed. The menu offerings get more diverse the further you read, but an unequaled bite is guaranteed no matter what you order. Selections from the toyosu menu have arrived all the way from Tokyo's premier seafood market just to be present for your meal. Uchi may be translated as "house" from Japanese, and this meal will make you feel at home.

Tomo, Atlanta

Stuff might be bigger in Texas, but the city of Atlanta is determined to keep pace with the way life is growing in the South. Atlanta has always been a reliable place to find a proper, albeit homestyle, meal. Since the early 2000s, there has been a dedicated focus on making it a city where you can find supreme sushi. Chef Tomohiro Naito leads the charge. After an education in theatre and a career in seafood sourcing, Naito took up residence in Las Vegas, training under the previously mentioned sushi master Nobu Matsuhisa before bringing his talents to ATL's Buckhead neighborhood.

His restaurant Tomo has had several homes around the city, each location a temple to quality sushi. Atlanta Magazine describes Tomo's most recent spot as having the sort of theatrical quality Naito studied in school. It's a large production where Chef Tomohiro delivers a learning experience with his dishes; Aji tataki, a signature dish, is a traditional Japanese plate not often found in the U.S. Japanese mackerel sashimi is topped with ginger, scallions, and garlic ponzu, an dumami is packed onto every tastebud. Another menu item, listed as "Live Lobster," turns a distinctly North American seafood into something totally new, with a dousing of white truffle oil to finish (per Travel + Leisure). All in all, Tomo is more than just some of the best sushi in ATL, or ATX for that matter. This is some of the best sushi in the USA.

O Ya, Boston

Speaking of lobster. In any conversation about unrivaled seafood, you can't forget to mention Boston. For better or worse, Boston is like Chicago: It is a place where regional cuisines are intimately tied to the character of the city. Despite a never ending association with lobster rolls, Boston has carved out a name for itself as a singular destination for flavor hunters seeking other exceptional dining experiences. The concept of O Ya traveled oceans to meet that demand. In 2008, the New York Times's Frank Bruni titled O Ya the best new restaurant in America. The newness may have faded over a decade-plus in business, but the experience of O Ya remains original and unparalleled.

As Bruni has it, the name O Ya is derived from the Japanese term for curiosity. That emotion (among others) is never far when dining at O Ya. The omakase menu ranges from 17 to 20 courses, each one an exploration of what is possible in the world of sushi. At O Ya, the cuisine is creativity. In order to provide an all-encompassing experience, co-owner Nancy Cushman became the city's first sake sommelier. Her husband, Chef Tim Cushman, has received a James Beard Award for dishes like foie gras and chocolate-balsamic kabayaki. Among all this inventiveness, Boston's regional foodstuff can't be forgotten: The New York Post reports that even lobster-caviar nigiri can be found on the right night.

Sushi Ota, San Diego

For serving some of the best sushi in the country, Sushi Ota can be found at a remarkably humble location. Nestled into a small strip mall, Sushi Ota's origin is nearly as humble. In 1990, two coworkers at nearby San Diego mainstay Mr. Sushi struck out on their own (per The San Diegoville). Yukito Ota and Noriko Toyama began to build a steady reputation through dedication to their craft and a willingness to never make prices unapproachable. Thirty years later, Sushi Ota remains some of the best in the country in terms of quality and affordability.

Conde Nast Traveler details that the specialty at Sushi Ota is fresh uni served over rice. The sea urchin arrives just harvested from San Diego's docks and is a nationwide benchmark for how such a delicacy should taste. Unpretentious twists on beloved favorites like the California roll turn a diner's experience into something new while also keeping it comfortable. A reasonably-priced omakase menu can be had for only $65. With the small restaurant often being jammed elbow-to-elbow, you're sure to inspire the odd wandering eye.

The San Diegoville reports that the restaurant is now under the new ownership of executive chef Shigenari "Shige" Tanabeand. We're excited to see where Sushi Ota heads into the future.