No one wants to admit it, but sushi isn’t the greatest takeout food. At no fault of restaurants, for nearly a year, we put up with cold rice and not-quite-cold-enough fish. We’ve eaten nigiri with our bare, just-sanitized hands while speeding down the 10 freeway. Which we did happily, seeing that it was our only option at the time. But no more - from hand rolls to an affordable sushi omakase spot in Beverly Hills, here are the 12 best outdoor sushi options in LA.
From super fresh cuts of toro to a cozy outdoor dining patio, dinner at this tiny sushi bar in the Valley is like the culinary equivalent of a 1953 Cadillac Eldorado, or this scene from Mamma Mia: 2 Here We Go Again. In other words, it’s absolutely excellent. They’ve set up a quiet, outdoor patio, secluded from the noise and bustle from the Ventura freeway, and serve everything from stone-grilled Wagyu to sushi omakase, as well as steamed crab legs and glasses of their house sake, made in Fukushima. Reservations can be made here.
At this point in the pandemic, even the simplest joys can feel monumental. A drive up PCH, a new show on Netflix, or even just discovering a new spot on the couch - in a year largely devoid of regular emotional output, an unexpected rush of serotonin can be downright overwhelming. Which is why we love Ichijiku so much. This new neighborhood sushi bar in Highland Park has everything from adventurous rolls to classic nigiri (get the branzino nigiri), all at an affordable price, plus an excellent back patio. Expect foliage, awnings, and socially distant picnic tables, each adorned with their own bottle of hand sanitizer.
Also known as “Sugarfish’s cooler younger brother,” Kazunori is focused on just one thing: excellent hand rolls. As a part of the Sugarfish empire, you can expect the same high-quality seafood (like yellowtail dipped in ponzu, fatty toro, and creamy bay scallops), hot rice flavored with sushi vinegar, and crispy crunchy seaweed - served straight to you by one of their expert handrollers. All four of their LA locations (Downtown, West Hollywood, Westwood, Santa Monica) are available for outdoor seating.
Black cod glazed with miso, cucumber sunomono, and golden eye snapper nigiri - when it comes to sushi in LA, it doesn’t get any more classic than Matsuhisa. Created by Nobu Matsuhisa (you know, of Nobu fame), this Beverly Hills institution has reopened for outdoor dining with a massive tent in their adjacent parking lot, plus tables along the sidewalk. Call (310) 659-9639.
Matsumoto in Beverly Hills has a full menu with everything from hot appetizers and rolls to a la carte nigiri, but not ordering the omakase would be a mistake. It’s not cheap by any means, but in the world of high-end sushi, spending roughly $130 for 18 different pieces of premium fish is a pretty good value. So rather than pore over the lengthy menu, switch your brain off, and just enjoy the incredible fish. Reservations for their tented patio area can be made by phone, call (323) 653-0470 to place an order.
If the closest you came to dining by the water during quarantine was parking your car on the side of Silver Lake Reservoir and eating a snack pack of hummus and pretzel chips, consider that it might finally be your time to make a reservation at Nobu. One of LA’s fanciest restaurants (and one of the only places quoted in a literally tens of songs), they’ve got some of the best views of the Pacific in town, and - this is a scientific fact - no one has ever been mad about eating their yellowtail with jalapeño.
The extremely underrated Japanese izakaya in Silver Lake has been our go-to for everything from pre-show meals at the Satellite to awkward double dates with an old coworker (don’t ask). And now, they’re back open with a front patio in their parking lot. The menu is quite lengthy, so just concentrate on the sushi - like the albacore or tuna belly - and any of the jidori.
This hand roll restaurant in Los Feliz urges you to seize the fish (a school of thought known as carp-e diem) - they’re in the same vein as spots like KazuNori or The HRB Experience, but what separates Sōgo from their competitors is a combo of higher-quality fish and unique, creative rolls. Which should come as no surprise, given that they’re owned and operated by the team behind Sushi Note, a wine bar/sushi restaurant in Sherman Oaks that is one of the best raw fish-experiences in Los Angeles. We recommend ordering the six-roll set, which is the perfect size for lunch, and includes the best and most interesting cuts of fish, like fatty bluefin toro, brandy-soaked albacore, and snapper served with a perfectly light yuzu ponzu sauce. Grab a seat on their front patio and enjoy their simple hand rolls while remaining outside and socially distant.
SUGARFISH | Santa Monica
Ah, Sugarfish. No other restaurant in LA is as feared, beloved, and worshipped as the casual set menu sushi joint. Plain and simple, this is the highest-quality sushi at the best price in town. There are several locations around LA, but don’t fear, the quality hasn’t dropped a bit. You can still get your nine-course Trust Me dinner for about $30 (it fluctuates between lunch and dinner) and walk away happier than the clams in your hand rolls. Patio dining is available at their MDR, Beverly Hills, Brentwood, Hollywood, Calabasas, Pasadena, and MB locations.
Sushi Fumi on La Cienega is one of LA’s great sushi restaurants, and it’s not just because they have incredible fish. It’s because any level of sushi eater will have a fantastic meal at this casual-but-lively strip mall spot, whether it’s a regular Tuesday or an important date. Order the yellowtail and jalapeno sashimi special, the moon roll, or our favorite amberjack in the city, and you’ll see what a great all-around sushi restaurant looks like.
Up in Sherman Oaks, Sushi Note is one of our favorite restaurants when it comes to raw fish. Half sushi restaurant, half wine bar, Sushi Note takes two iconic food groups and combines them to create a whole new experience. And while getting an omakase set filled with everything from red snapper to otoro to a gravlax sushi that will ruin all other gravlax for you, plus a bottle of wine isn’t the sort of thing you’d do every day, who cares? You’re celebrating (or at least make something up to celebrate).
If the phrase “affordable sushi omakase in Beverly Hills” doesn’t immediately register with your brain, that’s fine. Normal, even. It sounds like an oxymoron, akin to “jumbo shrimp” or “ethical consumption under capitalism.” But make no mistake: Sushi Tama is the real deal. The neighborhood’s latest spot has all of the trappings of a restaurant with a much higher price point, but for just $45, you can order an incredible ten-piece omakase nigiri set, which comes with smooth, buttery cuts of toro, ikura that bursts in your mouth, and fresh uni from either Mexico or Japan. Reservations for their patio can be made here.