When a sushi craving strikes, you’ll have plenty of options in San Francisco. Whatever your taste, budget or occasion, here are 11 sushi destinations that won’t disappoint.
This is where sushi connoisseurs or anyone else looking to indulge in the meal of a lifetime order omakase, a chef-chosen, multi-course menu designed to be consumed at a leisurely pace.
This peaceful, sun-drenched Michelin-starred restaurant in atmospheric Jackson Square serves kaiseki cuisine, a meticulous style of cooking with roots in the Japanese tea ceremony that’s focused on the seasonality and harmony of flavors and rarely seen outside of Japan. The cutting-edge omakase menu prepared by World Sushi Technical Skill Champion chef Mitsunori Kusakabe starts at $95 and includes a choice of bluefin fatty tuna or A5 Wagyu beef. Separate wine and sake sommeliers guide the beverage pairings. 584 Washington St., San Francisco, 415.757.0155.
Dining at this new 14-seat restaurant in SoMa is a cultural experience. The fish is flown in thrice weekly from Tokyo's legendary Tsukiji Fish Market. The porcelain, ceramic and wood serveware and glassware are either fine antiques or painstakingly handcrafted by top Japanese artisans. Add in the gracefully ascetic interior, and you’re in for a refined experience, whether you choose the $100, $150 or $200 omakase. 665 Townsend St., San Francisco, 415.865.0633.
This slick restaurant in the Mission District serving traditional Tokyo-style edomae sushi (chef Shinichi Kawaguchi started out in Shitamachi district, the birthplace of the concept) has earned a Michelin star. Choose from two omakase selections and two moriawase (combination sushi platters) and sit back and enjoy the symphony of design, service, presentation and flavor. 2931 16th St., San Francisco, 415.503.0702.
If any members of your party are averse to consuming raw fish, they’ll have their choice of cooked Japanese dishes at these restaurants.
James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Minna and Tokyo-born sushi guru chef Ken Tominaga opened this stylish and spacious Financial District izakaya and sushi bar in 2014. The extensive sushi offerings feature fish direct from Japan’s Tsukiji Market, many uncommon in the United States, along with delicacies pulled from local waters. Happy hour specials include a chef-selected hand roll. 101 California St., San Francisco, 415.668.7228.
Ichi Sushi + Ni Bar
Owned by a husband and wife team, this popular sushi and izakaya destination in the Mission neighborhood is bedecked with playful murals outlining sushi etiquette. All the fish is sustainable and the combinations are creative and delicious. The addictive yuzu fried chicken wings pair well with one of the shochu cocktails. 3282 Mission St., San Francisco, 415.525.4750.
This posh Japanese restaurant has been a waterfront landmark and a special occasion destination since 2001. The large, elegant dining room has views of the Bay Bridge, and one of the continent’s most extensive sake collections can be enjoyed in the luxe sake lounge. In addition to sushi made with fish that’s flown in daily, the restaurant prepares dishes from a traditional robata grill. 161 Steuart St., San Francisco, 415882.1333.
This handsome, 200-seat Japanese establishment bordering the Financial District in sunny Jackson Square dazzles with its Vegas-worthy sushi presentation and three variations of Wagyu beef. The third U.S. location of a London-based chain, it also serves steak and other seafood off the robata grill. A subterranean bar ups the glamour quotient. 801 Montgomery St., San Francisco, 415.362.8887.
Join the Locals
Ask a San Franciscan where they go out for sushi, and they’re likely to name one of these tried and true establishments.
If you want to eat sushi in Japantown, this tiny mom-and-pop operation has a longstanding local following. Chef/owner Noboru Inoue is a notoriously strict perfectionist, looking down on cell phone usage and serving sushi directly off the counter. Make a reservation or prepare to wait for a minimalist, authentic meal. 22 Peace Plaza, #510, San Francisco, 415.922.3121.
Local food critics rave about the variety and freshness of the omakase at this upscale, unmarked sushi spot within walking distance of Union Square. A family business for nearly 20 years, it balances the traditional with the contemporary. Book online or show up early. 431 Bush St., San Francisco, 415 397.3218.
This cult favorite in the colorful Castro neighborhood feels like a secret gem, with its cozy dining room and quiet, romantic ambience. Come hungry for affordable sushi and homey Japanese fare, including three types of housemade tofu. 317 Sanchez St., San Francisco, 415.558.8149.
This high-energy downtown sushi joint is a guilty late-night pleasure for San Franciscans. Descend into the basement to feast on creative rolls (the volcano roll contains peanut butter) while a DJ spins pop music. 619 Taylor St., San Francisco, 415.775.1028