For all intents and purposes, Austin is landlocked. Sure, we’ve got lakes and rivers that are great for boats and floats, but the fish we’re pulling out of those bodies of water don’t necessarily inspire a lot of confidence in our sushi scene. You’ve got it all wrong friend; when it comes to sushi, Austin is killing it, and hitting the best sushi joints in town should be top of your list of things to do in Austin. Product is flown in daily to satisfy this city’s voracious appetite for fresh fish, and our local chefs are using it to produce amazing food (some of our sushi spots are among the best restaurants in Austin). With Uchi and its ilk leading the charge, the city is developing a reputation with raw fish that might one day eclipse the international buzz generated by the best BBQ in Austin (though that may take some time). Sit down, belly up or call it in: From the casual to the classy, here are 10 quality sushi spots that will please even the pickiest palate.
Best sushi in Austin
James Beard award-winning Chef Tyson Cole trained for more than 10 years in Tokyo, New York and Austin under two different sushi masters. Lucky for us, he opened Uchi in 2003 in a little 1920s bungalow and transformed the landscape of food in our fair city (and arguably the U.S.). Uchi is consistently on the top of all the “best of Japanese” lists. Pick and choose your way through cool tastings, hot tastings, tempura, agemono, sushi and sashimi or opt for the omakase. Savvy diners look to their social hour to grab some discounted bites.
Uchiko, sister restaurant to Uchi, opened in central Austin in 2011 and has been as influential as its predecessor. Together they were named the No.1 sushi restaurant in the U.S. by Time Out USA. The non-traditional dishes here steal the show—these Japanese small plates are delectable works of art. Jar Jar Duck is a favorite along with “Ham and Eggs” (pork belly, yolk custard) and the Fried Milk. There’s a fresh daily menu and, like Uchi, a social hour as well.
Opened in 2015 by veteran and well respected chef Kazu Fukumoto, this hip sushi spot has a number of exquisite selections for the a special night out. This is definitely date-night material with low lighting, a buzzy ambiance and a fresh sheet that changes daily. House favorites include Green Tea Fed Snapper, Hawaiian Amberjack, Kama Toro and Monkfish Liver. There are shared plates, tempura and the elusive (in Austin) yakitori, for non-fish lovers.
You know how you can get into some places without a reservation? That is not this place. Otoko is strict about your participation in their multi-course omakase experience. You purchase tickets ahead of time. Reservations are available the first of every month for the month following. Each dining experience will be completely different—likely a mix of creative and challenging dishes from Head Chef Yoshi Okai. Reservations are extended for one, two and four people. At $150 per ticket, it’s one of the priciest and most special options in Austin.
Soto is a magical wonderland tucked between a Hancock’s Fabric and a Party City near Lakeline Mall. Yes, all of those things go together. Chef Andy determines the specials as their fish arrives (twice weekly from the sea of Japan), so there’s always something new and surprising. House standouts are the fire salmon (strips of salmon suspended over lighted coffee-infused 151), o-toro sashimi and the flaming kumamoto oyster shot. If you’re looking for something heartier, their squid-ink pasta, grilled Chilean sea bass and kobe beef ishiyaki are consistently available. The lunch is an excellent deal, as is the all night Monday sake social.
People who know about “Tomo” are loathe to give up the secret of this little spot. Formerly of Nobu in Vegas, the owners are fanatic about quality and creativity. Regardless of what kind of sushi eater you are, Tomo’s menu has an option, from the Japanese “lasagna” roll, dancing eel roll, and the Say My Name to live scallops, abalone clam and kampachi. It is quite small so you’re going to want to hit it during off times or prepare to wait.
Sushi with a view! Tadashi is located in the Hill Country Galleria and their menu makes the trek worth it. Head out that way for wild-caught super bluefin, jack mackerel, barracuda and smooth flutemouth. The roll selection is huge and varied with over 25 to choose from. They don’t skimp on the non-sushi portion of the menu either—dig into sunchoke soup with escargot, uni with ankimo, a bento box or the more decadent NY strip with yuzu truffle butter.
Hanabi is one of those gateway sushi places. It’s affordable, accessible and has enough variety to satisfy each person in your group. That isn’t to say that it’s just for beginners. Hanabi’s philosophy is excellent food and courtesy in a place that encourages exploration. Sure, they offer a bento box lunch special and outlandish rolls, but more seasoned aficionados can also enjoy a multi-course omakase.
West Campus is not synonymous with “most authentic” anything, but Daito sushi is a pleasant and most welcome surprise. The japanese food is excellent—a variety of udon noodle dishes, Japanese curries, karaage, stewed pork belly and more. But what we’re talking about here is sushi. Fish is sourced from Tokyo and this is a spot where you just trust the chef to do what’s right. Their mmakase sashimi plate is a steal at $25. They’ll kindly pair it with the right sake flight from their extensive menu.
The name leaves something to be desired, but you cannot beat their location or their happy hour. If you’re feeling adventurous, sit at the sushi bar and let the chef surprise you. Cocktail and beer pairings are available for anything you wish, and there's a mega bonus: they recreate happy hour during the last hour of business on Friday and Saturday and from noon to 5pm on Sunday.
DK Sushi is something of a legend around these parts. There are two locations now—North and South—and they both have a reputation for a crazy-fun atmosphere. The sushi holds its own, but the raucous and raunchy karaoke nights are kind of a big deal. DK himself leads the singing and the sake bombs and is known for being the most outrageous one on the mic.