Sushi options in San Francisco are abundant. There are casual joints with novel-length sushi menus, neighborhood staples that go above and beyond, and extravagant omakase counters perfect for big deal occasions. The one thing all the places on this guide have in common—they're where you want to go for excellent fish, whether you're looking to drop $30 or $300. Read on for the 20 best sushi restaurants in the city.
This place has been in the Inner Sunset for over thirty years, and is still packed with people for straightforward rolls, nigiri, and handrolls, and superb appetizers, like miso-glazed eggplant and agedashi tofu. Things at this casual spot also run smoothly: Even though Ebisu is loud and the tables are somewhat cramped, the service is quick and the people running it are always checking in on you. Post up at the sushi counter where things feel less chaotic, stick to the rolls, and pay extra attention to the specials on the board, like half-shell oysters.
Dinner at Ken on Divisadero feels like an exclusive dinner party—and one filled with flawless nigiri, silky chawanmushi, and dashi-soaked tomatoes that burst like water balloons in your mouth. The omakase counter is only six seats, so you'll easily have a conversation with the person on the opposite side of the bar, or crack jokes and exchange stories with the eponymous chef. As you move through the seamless 14-course meal, you'll fall into a comfortable silence as Ken precisely scores pieces of butterfish, torches a set of neatly lined up nigiri, and explains the process of poaching the house-cured ikura to its sticky, delicate consistency. A meal here is an unforgettable experience, and one you should get to for your next special occasion.
photo credit: Emma Shepler
Saru Sushi Bar
You'll probably have to wait for a table at this walk-in-only spot in Noe Valley. It’s tiny, with just a few seats at the bar and a couple of dining room tables. But when you finally sit and the friendly staff starts bringing perfect pieces of fatty tuna and yellowtail belly nigiri to the table, you’ll know the wait was worth it. Come to Saru to share the more basic sushi rolls, like sweet potato tempura or tuna maki, and specialty ones like the White Out with seared escarole and garlic ponzu. The best part is they’re all under $15, making Saru a great spot for an affordable sushi dinner.
Dinner at Eiji, the snug Japanese restaurant in the Castro, always feels like gathering around a good friend’s kitchen table—and that friend happens to make the best sushi rolls, delicate ankake tofu, and lightly soy-glazed tuna belly. The theme at this somewhat pastoral spot is light, bright, and simple: A juicy halved cherry tomato to cap off the pickly ceviche roll, single shiso leaves to liven up slices of the spicy tuna poke roll, and a punchy and citrusy vinegar to marinate an intensely crunchy cucumber sunomono. When your server eventually drops off the dessert menu, never pass on the perfectly chewy mochi with whole fresh strawberry and sweet red bean paste—you wouldn’t want to offend the host, after all.
There aren’t many spots that are trendier than a NYFW runway, serve great omakase, and let you pay on a sliding scale. That’s how it works at Robin: Tell the waiter exactly how much in the $99-$199 range you’re willing to spend. From there, you’ll receive a proportional amount of things like roasted kabocha squash miso soup, truffle sesame noodles, lots of nigiri, and A5 wagyu dusted in melty shaved foie gras. Whatever you end up throwing down, Robin makes going out for omakase easy, which is why we come here for special date nights or small group dinners.
You probably aren’t picturing an open hallway inside of a mall when you imagine an omakase-style dinner. But that’s exactly where you’ll find Oma San Francisco Station, a small omakase counter in the Japan Center where keeping it casual is the appeal. That, and the fantastic nigiri sliced with precision. Here, you’ll also make small talk with the chefs while listening to ambient mall chatter and eating slow-cooked duck breast and plain udon with uni sauce. When Oma San Francisco Station debuted in 2018, they hooked us with an affordable $30, five-course omakase. The cheapest option is now bumped up to $95—but, thankfully, the high-quality fish and approachable energy haven’t gone anywhere.
The rice at Sushi Sato, a new Japanese restaurant in Polk Gulch, is life-changing—it’s wonderfully sticky and vinegar-y, and holds its shape before dissolving into a sweet finish in your mouth. You will never look at sushi rice the same way, ever again, whether you get it in simply-prepared sashimi and nigiri (you can order them a la carte or as part of a tasting), handrolls, and decadent chirashi bowls. Rice aside, come here for the appetizers, like a refreshing tomato ceviche brightened up with shiso oil, and black cod swimming in a light yuzu miso broth, and sit in a space that reminds us of a hotel lobby with its impressionist paintings on the wall and fully-stocked bar.
Sasa is another Japantown mall sushi spot, but it's one you and all your friends can easily walk into to order some beautifully-presented fish. The dining room is spacious, and there’s a long communal table perfect for groups. The menu also has something for everyone, from uni and ikura donburi and well-balanced specialty rolls to golden-brown chicken karaage—and they're spot-on every time. We recommend going for the “mystery box” ($38) filled with chef's choice sashimi alongside little balls of sushi rice. Or better yet, go with the $90 omakase if you want to try a bit of everything. Even if you aren't in the area picking up Hi-Chews and patterned spatulas at Daiso, a meal at this casual restaurant is a must.
At this Hayes Valley spot, you get the best of both worlds—an omakase option stacked with yuzu and garlic ponzu-topped nigiri, and creative baked rolls drowning in sauce. Domo also has great sushi-adjacent hits, like tuna poke tostadas on the airiest tempura nori. Order the creamy baked domo roll, anything panko-crusted, a few nigiri, and you’re in for a lively night in a space that can sometimes get louder than a roaring jumbo jet. Rolls here fall in the $12-$20 range, so head over for nearly any occasion—casual date nights, post work-out dinners, and hangouts with a few friends. Just don’t bring an entourage. Domo is the size of four walk-in closets and almost exclusively bar seating.
Omakase is another of the city’s high-end omakase experiences ($195 for 18 courses)—but this one also happens to feel like the world's most casual fish Happy Hour. The chef will joke and drink sake along with you, and covertly sneak you an extra cut of toro. And throughout the loose night, you’ll make friends with the strangers sitting next you and share crypto tips over custardy lobster tamago, red miso soup with clams, and buttery, gold flake-topped wagyu. From start to finish, dinner at Omakase just feels like a party.
Wako is small, but not so small that the entire place will learn about the ongoing feud with your landlord—and also an excellent option when you want to break in your fancy new shoes. That’s because this relaxed neighborhood spot in the Richmond has range, and so does the menu. Do it up with the 10-piece omakase ($95) or keep it casual and order nigiri, handrolls, chawanmushi filled with an aquarium’s worth of seafood, and other small plates a la carte. There are many ways to dine at Wako, which, combined with their perfectly-prepared fish, is why we return for date nights, friend catch-ups, and everything in between.
Chances are high that you, your best friend, or your best friend’s hairdresser’s cousin has been to Ju-ni at least once—and can describe the seaweed-wrapped ikura covered in a mountain of shaved frozen monkfish liver like it was yesterday. This spot in NoPa is bucket list omakase ($195), and for good reason. During the 14-course set dinner of mostly nigiri, you’ll get up close to high-end, Japan-sourced fish and tightly-wrapped, chef’s choice temaki. The rice is warm and lightly seasoned allowing the buttery tuna, wild horse mackerel, and king salmon to shine. The fact that there are only 12 seats at the counter, and one chef for every four guests certainly adds to the intimate feel. And somehow, the bare white and wood interior always makes us more relaxed than when we walked in.
The wall of mirrors makes this shoebox-sized Richmond spot appear much larger than it is—and that’s where any illusion stops. Daigo’s nigiri is very real, and always melts in your mouth. We like to stick to the specials of the day, and keep them coming alongside filet mignon and green onion tempura rolls, miso soup, and salmon skin salad. The large sake selection also means there’s a high probability you’ll close the place down. And like any great neighborhood sushi spot, we turn to Daigo for everything from quick dinners and small group hangs to nights when we just feel like a saucy baked salmon roll for takeout at 8pm.
Midway through a meal at The Shota in FiDi, the chef will pull out a detachable plastic model of a fish. Off will come the head, then the belly, and suddenly you'll find yourself in the midst of a delightful tuna anatomy course you won't want to end—just like the rest of dinner. From a cushy white bar seat, you’ll be treated to a luxurious 15 courses: an uni “sandwich” with caviar, handrolls, and blowtorched golden-eye snapper flown in by jet from Japan. And despite being a splurge ($275), you should still confidently book a table for dinner—this is one you'll be thinking about long after it’s over.
Akiko’s has successfully balanced casual-trendy with upscale, and that’s exactly why the lavish $250 omakase experience is always high on our list. The industrial-style space near Union Square has exposed brick and pipes, sleek track lighting, Aesop products and gorgeous flower arrangements. And when you settle into the sushi bar (the best seat in the house), groove to jazz while picking out top-shelf sake, and enjoying a parade of caviar-topped shokupan, savory egg custard, and nigiri finished with things like bamboo charcoal sea salt and pickled cherry blossoms. For a power move, head here at lunch for the 11-course set ($120). And do it soon. Akiko’s is reportedly moving to the newly-branded East Cut neighborhood this year.
We usually come to this takeout-only Mission spot for their poke, which is the best in the city. But for a quick to-go sushi haul, Basa Seafood Express still fits the bill. We like reaching for the trays of pre-made combos from the deli case, like the California roll with tuna nigiri, or you can order off the long menu and choose made-to-order things like nigiri, sashimi, and specialty rolls. Get the unagi brushed with thick, sweet glaze, or anything involving salmon and you won’t be disappointed. And don't forget to grab a tray of spicy salmon poke for later.
The upscale omakase spot in the Financial District has been holding it down since 2014—so expect an orderly and tightly-run operation. Throughout the 18-course meal ($185), staff will drop off pristine nigiri, shabu shabu with slices of toro, and braised black cod in front of you like clockwork. By the time the final course comes around (a flaky unagi nigiri), you’ll be so full you might need to be rolled out. But a meal at this old-school omakase institution is always an excellent option for a solo date or a once-every-few-years type of meal. Request a seat at the bar.
There aren’t many vegan sushi places in the city. But this casual Mission spot stands out for its creative (and cheesily-named) plant-based specialty rolls bursting with so many textures you’ll forget that there’s no actual fish involved. The excellent Prime Suspect has creamy gochujang aioli, crunchy sweet potato crisps, and slabs of soft marinated eggplant draped over it. Tiny rice crackers and vegan caviar dot the top of the Surprise Ending (where one piece is secretly spiked with habanero aioli). And we never leave without ordering the Boddy and Soul, a lightly-fried roll decorated with spicy aioli and shichimi togarashi for an added kick. Whether you’re vegan or not, eating dinner in a spot that looks like the inside of a Swedish sauna is always fun.
Dinner at Sushi Aoba on the edge of Japantown is calm and unhurried, and that’s why we love it. There won't be too much conversation between you and the chef, so all you have to do is sit back and watch. Sushi Aoba goes the extra mile in terms of presentation, too. The chef will smoke pieces of red sea perch in a domed glass case, and even light a conch shell on fire before calmly handing it to you across the bar. For $195, you get 21 courses, a mix of small plates like chawanmushi and shrimp cake with cherry blossom, plus a variety of nigiri that are as beautifully-prepared as they are delicious.
One mainstay in our rotating roster of casual sushi places is Okoze, a Russian Hill spot with something for everyone. You can get a bunch of their excellent specialty rolls for the table to share, go with the 9- or 12-piece nigiri omakase, or turn to the robata grill for salmon teriyaki and vegetables. Keep an eye on the chef’s specials section of the menu, which has things like fantastic negi toro gungan (two nigiri filled with chopped toro, sweet unagi sauce, and topped with crispy rice crackers). What we also love are the thoughtful touches, like flower-shaped beets and actual flower petals to dress up the plates. Have this quiet spot in your back pocket for nights when you forgot to make a reservation—it’s easy to walk up and get a table, or, at the very least, a seat at the bar.