Hundreds of miles away from any significant source of water and yet, Austin’s got an awe-inspiring sushi scene. Sushi lovers seeking any level of experience - from casual to exquisite - will find a dining option in our fair city.
Uchi is the most recognizable name in sushi in Austin. After winning the James Beard award in 2015, Tyson Cole somehow continues to hone his legacy through Uchi and “little sister” restaurant Uchiko. The approach is farmhouse Japanese — which is to say the food is thoughtful and beautiful but also somehow eating here feels casual and cool. The menu changes frequently so return visits are always warranted to see what they’ve dreamed up next. For people on a budget, their social hour is always a good place to start.
Tadashi, out in the Hill Country Galleria, flies their fish in from Tsukiji market twice a week. Their outdoor patio and daily specials make this a go-to spot for a good sushi dinner without pretension. In addition to the rolls you might expect (dragon, rainbow, spicy tuna), they also venture into fusion territory like the Southern with shrimp tempura, garlic green bean, seared fatty salmon, and sweet potato strings.
DK Sushi is famous for their Flaming Volcano Roll and their affordable sushi. Book one of their traditional tables (shoes off, pull up a pillow) for a bit of extra cache.
If you’re lucky enough to snag a reservation at Tsuke Edomae or Sushi Bar ATX, then you’re lucky enough. Both are pop-up style sushi experiences serving omakase only. The dinner is exclusive, artful, and intimate. Of course, because the seatings are so limited, it can be difficult to get a reservation so definitely plan ahead for what will be an epic night of remarkable sushi.
Otoko has a similar style - omakase only, limited seating - but with the advantage of not being a pop-up. Chef Yoshi Okai brings together Tokyo- and Kyoto-style dishes. They release tickets on the first of the month and if you snag one for the 12-seat restaurant, prepare yourself for an incredible night of flavor artistry.
Soto is on par in terms of the creativity and craft of their sushi… but it’s a real restaurant with real reservations and ample seating. Chef Andy studied with Morimoto before moving to Austin to enrich our sushi scene. Beautifully presented, expertly prepared, and diligently explained, this is a place to linger over a kumamoto oyster with ponzu, momiji oroshi and ossetra caviar or snap 100 insta-pics while the server lights the fire under glistening strips of salmon with raspberry chili.
Musashino Sushi Dokoro is a classic place for sushi in Austin. It has also served as a training ground for some of the most lauded sushi chefs in the city (e.g. Tyson Cole). They use shari rice and wild-caught seafood flown in from all over the world. Sushi purists will head straight to the nigiri and sashimi parts of the menu but their inventive takes on hand-rolls and traditional rolls are delightful.
Though it didn’t originate in Austin, Kura Revolving Sushi is both a sushi dinner and a really fun time. Diners sit side-by-side choosing sushi bites off of a conveyor belt, winning points, and getting prizes. A cool way to get your sushi fix and have a unique evening.
Neighborhood Sushi, with its light woods and modern aesthetic, actually feels like a neighborhood joint. The menu (changes daily) features shareable dishes, a solid tempura list, and many varieties of fresh nigiri, sashimi, rolls, and handrolls. Definitely check out their 25% off happy hour!
If you’re in North Austin, try strip-mall surprise Midori. This local joint has been quietly doing its thing since 1999. They’re known for having a good selection, lively atmosphere, and reasonably priced traditional and specialty rolls like the Superman Burrito (tuna, salmon, yellowtail, crab, and avocado wrapped with soy paper.)
Kazu Fukumoto, of Fukumoto Sushi and Yakitori Izakaya, learned at Musashino before opening his restaurant, a traditional Japanese spot with a gastropub feel. Lovers of sushi can get their fill of specialties like bluefin belly, raw octopus, and yellowtail with negi while the rest of the party can indulge in hot grilled skewers and bento boxes.
A little further north is Tomodachi Sushi, an intimate sushi restaurant with Japanese specialties and sushi. Fans of this sushi spot come here for the inventive dishes dreamed up by Chef Riad, formerly of Nobu.
Looking for more locally-owned Asian restaurants? Check out our guide to Asian-Owned Restaurants in Austin.
Article contributed by Kelly Stocker.