We love the Kusakabes and The Shotas of San Francisco - places to drop hundreds of dollars on incredible raw fish. But we’re also big fans of being able to afford rent and the occasional e-bike on the Embarcadero. So it’s nice to know where to find great sushi that’s also affordable.
That’s why we have this guide. It’s our complete list of neighborhood places in SF with good fish, good prices, and causal settings that won’t make us feel guilty about dropping in on a Tuesday.
Saru Sushi Bar
The dining room at Saru is tight, but the reason this Noe Valley spot gets packed is because all of the fish is fantastic. From tofu skins to kelp-cured halibut nigiri, you’ll be happy with whatever you get, but no matter what, you need to order the fatty tuna tartare tasting spoons as soon as you sit.
Oma San Francisco Station is a restaurant specializing in omakase, but unlike other omakase spots in SF, this place is extremely casual. It’s basically a stall in the middle of the Japan Center with only eight seats, and the least expensive menu option is five courses for $30. Quality isn’t sacrificed with the low price though. It’s just as good as the more expensive places in town.
You can see the chefs making sushi through the big window, so if you pass Umi while huffing your way up Potrero Hill, you’ll easily be drawn in. That’s a good thing because all of the sushi here is great. We especially like the simple nigiri and sashimi, but if you’re in the mood for rolls, you can’t go wrong with the Golden Dragon with crab, avocado, salmon, and lemon.
Ace Wasabi Rock-N-Roll Sushi
If you can get past the fact that this Marina sushi place sounds like it was named by a Guy Fieri acolyte, you will become a convert and come here all the damn time. Our favorite things here are the sake roll with crispy kale (just go with it) and the Flying Kamikaze with spicy tuna and asparagus. They do excellent sashimi and nigiri, too, and the fish tastes absurdly fresh for a place that does 50% off wine most nights. The staff and owner are super friendly, and it’s a fun enough spot for a kind-of-rowdy Saturday night. Also, they have bingo.
One of life’s small joys is killing two birds with one stone. If you can get your laundry done while eating dinner, you’re basically in the top 10% of productive humans. Hot Zushi is right across the street from a laundromat, and besides being convenient for your errands, it’s a pretty great sushi place that is very well-priced. Their nigiri is solid, and we’re partial to the Smashing Pumpkin roll with spicy tuna and tempura pumpkin. Their butterfish “nachos” served on wonton chips are a little gimmicky, but actually taste good, too.
This little spot in Hayes has outdoor tables that are perfect on a nice night, and more importantly, a lot of good sushi and small plates. We always get the Saba Classic with marinated mackerel and ginger.
Definitely not a place that’s going to catch your eye from the street, unless you’re on the lookout for the blandest exterior possible. But Tanuki in the Inner Richmond is worth knowing about. They serve both delicious uni nigiri and vegetarian sushi that won’t make you sad, and they also run a strong delivery operation. Another good thing to keep in mind: they have some very affordable lunch specials.
photo credit: Sandy Noto
Otoro is a bit on the nicer end of the casual sushi spectrum - by which we mean you can make reservations. This Hayes spot is a great option for a laid-back lunch or dinner. Or hit it solo and eat at the bar, so you won’t need to share your spicy scallops with a date you only moderately care about seeing again.
Ignore the fact that this place has too many Zs in its name. It’s definitely the best sushi on Lombard, and maybe even in all of the Marina. The chef has been at it for a while, and he makes strong rolls, sashimi, and nigiri across the board - definitely don’t skip the hand rolls. They have an omakase option, too, for around $100 with tax and tip.
If you’re a sushi purist, you’ll like Okina. This tiny spot in the Inner Richmond has zero oversauced, over-stuffed rolls - the menu is extremely simple and focused only on the fish. At $30, the very good omakase is ludicrously reasonable, but if you go a la carte, definitely get the uni with the quail egg. Take note, though: it’s cash only.
You generally need to show up here a few minutes before it opens if you don’t feel like waiting for a table, but this small place is perfect for grabbing dinner with a date. Get the white out roll with butterfish and truffle oil, the Himalayan trout served on a salt block, or the flaming sea bass roll that’s lit on fire tableside.
The sushi and nigiri here are worth your time, but the real standouts are the house-made tofu and mochi-covered strawberries. It’s a small space, but we’ve never had to wait. This is one of our all-time favorite neighborhood sushi spots in the city.
Ten-Ichi has been holding down the fort on Fillmore for 40 years. The sushi is pretty standard, but we often go for the “don” dishes served over rice. The salmon donburi is really great.
This is one of the fancier neighborhood spots on this list - the presentation here is definitely nicer than it is at most other casual joints. An ideal order at Tataki includes the Extinguisher Roll with spicy tuna and any of the specialty tatakis (seared fish dishes). If it helps you sleep at night, all their fish is sourced sustainably.
Ebisu doesn’t take reservations, but the wait is never as long as the always crowded San Tung around the corner, which makes it an easy option for a last-minute date or a dinner with a few friends. The sushi here is all great and affordable - get the $28 sashimi omakase for two or the 49er roll with salmon, fish roe, avocado, lemon, and shiso. If you want something hot, we always start with the Pink Cadillac, which is a grilled salmon filet wrapped around scallops.
Three words: Spoonful. Of. Happiness. This spoonful of uni, quail egg, and delicious sauce at Koo comes with a shot of sake, and you would be highly remiss not to order one for everyone at the table. Besides that, the fish here is all pretty great. We usually get the Best Roll with salmon, lemon, asparagus tempura, and avocado and the crispy Godzilla tofu with spicy garlic miso.
Order the uni nigiri. Besides that, the dragon ball (avocado wrapped around crab and tuna) and the spicy lambada rolls are excellent. And no one has ever complained about $1 nigiri pieces at happy hour (until 6). This spot is 100% worth your time.
Kazan is the best sushi in this part of the Mission. The sashimi and the kazan roll with hamachi, avocado, asparagus, and green onion are what you want here. On weekends, the place feels like a party, and the kitchen gets pretty generous in sending out free green tea ice cream or cheesecake desserts.
If you’re feeling fancy, the lobster avocado roll is what you should be ordering at Kama Sushi. This place in SoMa also has a great Happy Hour, too, if you haven’t cashed out your equity yet.