If there’s one thing that unites restaurants in San Francisco more than anything, it’s lines. Whether you’re in the mood for a burrito or eating every small plate in sight at State Bird Provisions, more often than not you’re going to find yourself waiting and wondering if you’d be better off at home heating up freezer-burned pizza rolls. Elephant Sushi in Russian Hill always has a line too, but the great sushi and good prices make it one we never mind waiting in.
The big reason there’s always a line here—or at any of their other three locations—is that the quality of the food is great for what you’re paying. Dinner for two runs about $30 per person, and while the menu isn’t huge, there’s plenty of variety, with appetizers, standard rolls, nigiri, and house specials. If you’re one of those people who knows what they like and sticks to it, you can get maguro and toro nigiri and be more than happy, but the specials are why the wait is always worth it.
The Himalayan trout served on a salt block with green onion, olive oil, and ponzu sauce is the best thing here. The salt actually seasons the fish, and isn’t just a gimmick to look cool, like that time you bought a designer fidget spinner or started to use British slang in your everyday life. Even the less traditional combinations are legitimately great, like the chips and dip appetizer that combines spicy tuna, garlic pita chips, and honey mustard, or the White Out roll with hamachi, butterfish, and truffle oil. This isn’t sushi for a random weeknight when you’re too lazy to make a salad, it’s actually worth going out of your way for.
The majority of the tables here are two-tops and usually filled with people on dates on any given night, or at least Wednesday through Saturday, which are the only days Elephant Sushi is open. If you plan properly and get here early-ish, you’ll be seated immediately, but even if you’re late and there’s a line, it’s worth waiting it out.