It’s easy to pick a fight with friends in Seattle about the best oysters, or best Vietnamese food, or best espresso to drink while reading a moody book in the drizzling mist. The same goes for raw fish. Ask your friends what their favorite sushi in town is, and you’ll get 25 different answers. And then there’s the price—sometimes you just can’t drop $150 on a Wednesday night for a bunch of nigiri. So which casual places are actually great? And which pricier spots are worth the cost of admission? We’ve got the answers. Here are the best sushi restaurants in Seattle—from spots where you can grab weekly takeout, to special occasion omakase experiences.
We’ve eaten at Sushi Kashiba inside at a table for a big birthday dinner, outside on the courtyard for a $40 summer nigiri lunch, and waited two hours for a spot at the counter to get served by the owner and chef Shiro Kashiba himself. We’ve confirmed—this is the best sushi in Seattle. If you’re new here, you might not know that Shiro was trained by Jiro Ono, one of the greatest sushi chefs alive (and the subject of a Netflix documentary). If you’re only going to do Kashiba once, wait it out, and secure a seat at the counter. You’ll get incredible pieces of nigiri, ranging from seared flounder fin to Norwegian smoked mackerel. For any special occasion that would warrant spending a couple of hundred dollars on raw fish, you’re going to want to do it here.
Everything at this Belltown spot is stellar (especially the baked crab handroll if it's available), but know that no matter what, you're going to be served excellent salmon—from Alaskan sockeye to smoky ikura—and tuna, complete with four pieces of varying fattiness from the same fish. Right now they're only offering a $75 omakase, but for 19 pieces of outstanding nigiri, it's kind of a steal. A meal here is a great way to have an exceptional sushi experience without paying nearly as much as you would at Sushi Kashiba.
Editor's Note: Maneki is currently open for takeout only.
Maneki opened in the International District in 1904, making it the oldest Japanese restaurant in Seattle. Try to have dinner in one of their tatami rooms, which is a quiet, private space in the back of the restaurant where you’ll take your shoes off and sit while someone periodically drops in to give you raw fish and beer. Every piece of nigiri you’ll get here is tender, cut perfectly, and has the highest quality-to-cost ratio in the city. Not to mention that there are always exciting specials like four different types of wild salmon or negitoro gunkan maki. Everything is pretty inexpensive for the quality and tastes just as great in the crowded dining area if you can’t get into a tatami room.
There are only eight seats at Taneda Sushi In Kaiseki, and with two seatings per night (one early in the evening and one during primetime), only 16 people eat at this Cap Hill spot every day. They serve such exceptional sushi that you should put in the work to get a reservation. This is an extremely special, intimate omakase involving about two dozen courses, and the chef will personally walk you through the origin and preparation of each type of fish during your meal. The menu changes every month, but some of our recent favorites were a sea salt-marinated flounder nigiri from Tokyo and seared A5 Miyazaki wagyu nigiri topped with caviar. For $110, it’s the best omakase value in town.
Kiriba is located inside of a rickety old house with yellow siding up in Haller Lake that you’d probably drive past without noticing. We’d advise you to not miss this place because it’s one of our favorite casual sushi spots in Seattle. For pretty low prices (a meal should run about $30 per person), the nigiri and rolls are delicious, whether you’re ordering a roll with blowtorched parmesan and escolar or just some pieces of seared salmon belly or ponzu-marinated albacore. Plus, the servers are extremely friendly, and they play jazz piano covers over the speakers.
Liberty is first and foremost a cocktail bar, with drinks ranging from refreshing spiked blood orange shrubs to something called the JG Wentworth (Yes, named after the company with the 877-CASH-NOW jingle). But the most impressive thing about this dark, dog-friendly bar on Capitol Hill is the sushi they serve. You’ll find buttery nigiri and excellent California rolls topped with seared salmon and drizzled with spicy mayo and eel sauce. They also have a name-your-price option where you can select to pay either $15, $25, or $35, and the chef will whip up a unique mixed plate. This is a great place if you're planning a Capitol Hill night out with some friends and want to stick around 15th Ave.
Another fantastic Capitol Hill option, Tamari Bar is our favorite spot for sashimi in particular. From salmon belly chirashi topped with miso sauce and ikura to perfectly sweet scallops, the fish here is so great on its own that we almost forget about the many other delicious things under their roof (looking at you, pork dumplings, soft serve with matcha syrup, and marinated wagyu cooked on a hot rock). If you prefer your sushi in maki form, they also serve tasty rolls.
If you have a mutual love for free stuff and wasabi, Toyoda is the casual sushi spot in Lake City for you. Everything on the menu comes with a complimentary noodle salad and miso soup. Any nigiri you get is on the larger side, but is priced very reasonably. And, the amount of wasabi they use will probably make your nose tickle (in a good way). As for rolls, the tempura-fried spicy tuna roll is the best thing here. It’s light, crunchy, and comes with a delicious ponzu sauce for dipping.
Sushi Kappo Tamura in Eastlake is an ideal sushi restaurant for just about any occasion in-between “I did laundry this week” and “marry me.” But to be fair, coming here “because raw fish is rad” works, too. It’s always relatively easy to grab a table here, and the quality is excellent. As a bonus, sustainability is at the forefront—so the restaurant takes particular in where they source their seafood. If a chef’s omakase is your thing, it’s an option you’ll be happy with here. But Sushi Kappo Tamura also succeeds tremendously if you go a la carte. The fish shines with few extra touches, like grill marks seared on a piece of black cod nigiri, or sliced jalapeño and golden tobiko topping the (delicious) Rising Salmon roll.
Orchestrating a sushi dinner for a celebration can be tricky if you don’t know how much money everyone wants to spend—especially if your friends bring you gifts even when you say “no gifts,” because societal norms are confusing. Choose a middle-of-the-road spot with positive energy and good raw fish, like Umi Sake House in Belltown. The massive, tropical plant-decked dining room has plenty of space for groups to spread out, a semi-private tatami room that isn’t too difficult to book, and great sushi. Fill the table with everything from simply prepped nigiri to extravagant, sharable rolls involving things like pickled eggplant and torched spicy snow crab or shrimp tempura and ghost pepper aioli.
The sushi at Tsukushinbo is so incredible that we once overheard someone tell the chef that he was moving to Tokyo tomorrow and wanted his last meal in the states to be here. Get some tempura and spicy tuna rolls at a table or watch the chef grind Himalayan rock salt with a cheese grater on top of a piece of barracuda at the sushi bar. We're also huge fans of their toro and king salmon.
Queen Anne has a ton of sushi spots, from casual takeout places to restaurants that specialize in conveyor belt sushi, and even somewhere that’s licensed to serve poisonous pufferfish. The best sushi in the neighborhood, however, is at Moontree Sushi & Tapas. We’d come here just for the spicy tuna (either in a roll or on top of crispy rice), which is the best in town, but you should also take advantage of their lunch special. It includes a plate of excellent nigiri with fish like salmon, hamachi topped with scallion, and sea bream in a black pepper marinade.
If you’re a big fan of seared sushi, Aburiya Bento House in Belltown will become your personal Disneyland. Besides specializing in blowtorched nigiri, they also serve pressed aburi oshi rolls, which come in rectangular pieces, stuffed with spicy salmon or tuna, and topped with more salmon (or tuna) and aioli that gets flame-seared into the fish. Aburiya also serves toro nigiri topped with edible gold—order it if you want to feel like a celebrity during your lunch hour.
Kisaku is like two different sushi restaurants in one. By night, it’s a white-tablecloth spot for a semi-upscale celebration dinner with preset nigiri plates. By day, it’s more casual, and the best-kept lunchtime sushi secret in the city. For around $11.50, you get five pieces of nigiri, a California roll, and an order of miso soup. We like this place for either option, especially after working up an appetite walking around Green Lake.
If you’re looking for some great affordable sushi, it’s hard to find better prices than the ones they offer at Musashi’s in the ID. Sure, the selection is a little limited, and you’re not going to find things like toro or uni. But you will find fantastic tuna and torched salmon for around $3 per piece as well as a six-piece hamachi roll for $6. There are a ton of tables in this casual space, which makes it perfect for a dinner with friends when you need to spend your money on other things, like more sushi.
Village Sushi is a casual spot in the University District that feels like band practice in a hip basement. There are glass tables, shelves of vinyl records, and musical instruments set up as if a live performance was going to happen at any moment. And it’s very difficult to have a bad meal here. You’ll find tasty nigiri, rolls, and fish that’s flown in from Japan like fluke and skipjack. Anything that’s seared here is also going to be delicious.
If you thought that vegan options at sushi spots were all cucumber rolls and not too much else, allow us to introduce you to Kamakura. They have a full fish-based menu of great casual sushi, but their all-vegan lineup is the real MVP. Instead of just avocado maki or an abundance of pickled radish, this Fremont spot serves faux tuna made from marinated tomato, a spicy crab-free California mix involving minced tofu, and complicated deep-fried special rolls drizzled with three different sauces. Sure, Kamakura rules if you're plant-based, pregnant, or both, but you'll find their vegan sushi delicious even if you regularly consume more raw fish than a North American river otter.