If we’re talking about world-popular cuisines, there might not be one that fits the bill more than sushi!
While Sushi has always had an audience among international foods, it’s only in the past 20 to 30 years when that popularity has hit the mainstream.
Pretty much any decently sized city across the globe will have at least one or two sushi restaurants there, the secret culinary gems of the restaurant scene of any city.
So, you’d expect a big city like San Diego to be bursting with plenty of good sushi bars (see also: Best Bars In Nashville)and restaurants.
And you wouldn’t be wrong! San Diego is home to some of the best sushi places in California if you know where to look.
Well, look no further, because we have collected the ultimate list of sushi places that you should visit while you are here in this South-Western city!
If you’re in the mood for a dining experience that tastes as good as it is irreverent, then you need to head over to Wrench and the Rodent next time you’re in town.
The restaurant owner, Davin Waite, runs several different restaurants around Oceanside in San Diego, but this is the place to stop by if you’re in the mood for classic sushi flavors and a unique dining experience.
It’s a professional restaurant, but the atmosphere is cozy, like the best corner café that you might visit back home. Only here, instead of creamy coffees, it’s fantastic fish dishes instead!
Like any good authentic sushi experience, the ingredients are caught and prepared as fresh as possible. But you’ll also find that the sauces on offer at this small restaurant are also delicious and unique, that blend well with most, if not all of the menu items on offer.
Plus, if you’re looking for recommendations, the restaurant staff is always ready to give recommendations for different palettes!
Arguably the most famous venue on this list, Sushi Ota has been the gold standard for San Diego sushi restaurants. When someone from out of town asks for a place to go for food, there’s a good chance that they’ll be pointed to this particular restaurant!
Nestled away in the iconic Mission Bay, this restaurant might seem innocuous from the outside, especially in the shopping mall where it’s located.
However, pretty much every plate of sushi that you’ll find here is A-tier food. Every ingredient is freshly delivered and prepared on-site, meaning that you’ll be getting the absolute best fish and seafood that you’ll probably have had in your entire life.
Even the most simple of recipes, like the salmon maki or nigiri, is buttery smooth to the taste. The tempura is crisp and flavorful. Even the innocuous side dishes, like the edamame, are crunchy and fresh to the taste.
Every restaurant on this list is an easy recommendation from us. But if you only have time to visit one sushi bar here, it has to be Sushi Ota. It’s that good!
If you’ve visited San Diego, then you’ll likely have at least heard of Liberty Station.
Despite its name, Liberty station is home to some of the best shops, entertainment, and, of course, restaurants in the city.
That list of restaurants also happens to include Ikiru Sushi, one of the best sushi joints in San Diego.
Again, this is another restaurant where pretty much every item on this list is going to be a winner for someone, from the temaki (we would personally highly recommend the eel), to even many of the side dishes.
However, arguably the show-stopping items on this list are the nigiri, coming in a ton of different flavors, and even colors for that matter.
The only issue you might have, at least when eating in, is that this is a pretty small restaurant with not much inside seating.
However, the promenade is just a short walk away, which has plenty of outdoor sleeping for beachside takeaways. It’s a great way to make a picnic out of takeout!
Now, if you’re looking for a sushi bar that prizes quality over quantity, you’ve come to the right palace with Kaito Sushi!
While the sushi bar looks perfectly reasonable, even a little hidden away between a stellar pho noodle restaurant and a desert place, everything changes the moment that you step inside.
The customer service is top-notch, while also giving you plenty of room to peruse the menu and special items of the day for yourself.
The selection of fish on offer on any given day might seem like a downgrade compared to some restaurants. But as we’ve said, what you may not expect in quantity, is more than made up for in the quality of the food.
Not only is caught and prepared within the same day, but it is also masterfully crafted by a Tokyo-trained sushi chef. Meaning that every beautiful salmon, crab, (see also: Best 10 Crab Recipes That Will Make Your Mouth Water)or whatever is on offer that day, is going to be some of the best that you’ve ever tasted.
We suppose that you could argue that making this place a little easier to find by yourself is an issue with this place.
But hey, now that you know that this is a great place to go, all you need is a map or Google Maps to find it for yourself!
If you’re looking for a restaurant with personality in San Diego, you can do a lot worse than Harney Sushi.
Stop us if you’ve heard any of this before: The staff are polite and always ready to serve and tend to any requests or questions, and the ingredients that you’ll find in your sushi are all freshly picked up and prepared that same day.
One thing that does help this place stand out from so many is the presentation. The warm colors of the inside, coupled with a pretty small restaurant interior, make for a cozy and comfortable place to order a meal, whether it’s a party of 2 or 9!
Heck, even the restaurant front has tons of character. And considering that one of the few issues we’ve had with a few of the previous entries was how easy they were to miss, this makes overlooking this place next to impossible!
While we won’t be so shallow as to say that presentation is everything, especially when good food comes in all shapes and sizes, the way that some of these dishes are presented on a plate is almost as much a feast for the eyes as it is for the belly. (Almost.)
So, if you’re looking for an evening meal that you won’t soon forget, you know where to go!
Now, if you’re looking for a restaurant with pedigree, then Soichi has to be the place to go.
The owner and founder of this new Sushi restaurant on the San Diego scene, Soichi Kadoya has worked in some of the best sushi restaurants on the West Coast, from Surfside Sushi to the Michelin-star restaurant Sushi Tadokoro.
So, you know you’re in safe hands when it comes to who’s making your delectable delights. More than that, it should be getting you pumped.
With fresh ingredients that are (say it with me) picked up and prepared the same day, it should come as a surprise to no one that this restaurant has already made waves since it opened just 4 years ago.
Heck, Sichi got its own Michelin star and approval in 2021, so there’s no excuse not to check it out on your next visit!
Speaking of sushi bar alumni and prestige, you can’t discuss sushi places, and not at least give a mention to Ken Sushi Workshop.
The head chef of this cozy little restaurant was a former chef at Sushi Ota. You know, that entry that we mentioned a few sushi bars back that was arguably one of the best restaurants in San Diego?
Again, that experience is on full display here, with some of the best fish sushi that you’ll find in California, as well as plenty of meat options for those who like their nigiri to come from the land.
Now, to be fair, you should go into this restaurant knowing that it will be a pretty penny to dine here.
But once you’ve had a taste of the wagyu beef nigiri that is on offer here, you’ll quickly see that it earns every penny that you’ve spent!
With a location that is close to San Diego International airport, Cannonball is located in a prime spot to be the first or last meal that folks might have on a visit to this sunny side of California!
Once again, it’s a classic case where you can’t argue with the quality on display. Service is quick and reliable, and you can expect the freshest catches of the day to be on your dinner plate. You’ll even be treated to a live singer/guitarist performance while you’re here!
Plus, with a gorgeous view of the shorefront from the rooftop dining, how could you not love this place? It’s a perfect marriage of professional restaurant and street-food beach vibes!
It’s an easy recommendation from us, that’s for sure. It turns out that having a sea-facing city, known for fresh seafood, might make for some impressive seafood restaurants. Who knew?
Pretty much every big city in America has a little Italy part to it. And, not surprisingly, you’d probably expect the little Italy of San Diego to be no different.
And you’d be right, for sure. But you may not be expecting to find one of the best Japanese/Sushi restaurants, would you?
And yet, that’s exactly what stellar restaurant owner Junya Watanabe has done here.
One thing that you’ll immediately notice about the place once you’ve picked it up a menu, is the lack of meat or even seafood on offer here. That’s right, it’s a vegan-friendly sushi restaurant!
Now hold on, fish and meat lovers, don’t scroll on just yet. You’ve never had vegan sushi like this. You have your classic vegan-friendly sushi items, like avocado, cucumber, and so on.
But you’ll find that with the preparation methods that the chefs here use, from all kinds of fermentation to broiling, steaming, grilling, and so many others, you’ll get an incredible array of cooking methods that help replicate the taste feelings and sensation of your favorite meat dishes. All without a single piece of it being found here!
Plus, Yasai also has different preparation methods for each item on the menu, so it’s not like you’re stuck with just one cooking style.
Even if you’re not a vegan, this place is a must-go, even if just to experience what a master craftsman can do with a little ingenuity in cooking!
(If you are desperate for a non-vegan sushi bar from Junya Watanabe, Matsuoka is also a very distinguished restaurant that you can visit. We just wanted to give a shout-out to this amazing establishment!)
Now, if you’re looking for an intimate dining experience that mixes classic sushi bar dishes with a little trendier and modern meals, then Himitsu is the place to go.
Once again, the head chef of this joint is another veteran of the amazing kitchens of Sushi Ota, so you know you’re dealing with quality food here.
But there’s a different vibe to this place than many of the other exceptional sushi bars that we have included in this guide.
The eight indoor seats at this sushi bar, plus, a handful of outside seating (very charming and colorful, by the way) make this very cozy and intimate. It makes it feel like it’s this amazing little secret sushi stop that you found that you’ll recommend to all your friends and family when they visit.
Plus, as we mentioned, you don’t just get your classic sushi dishes (the California roll is exquisite, appropriately), but you get quite a lot of contemporary recipes here too, from the delicious ribs to even the katsu sando, a breaded beef steak sandwich with ginger-dressed cabbage.
There’s nothing quite like a meal from Himitsu’s!
If you’re eating at Nobu San Diego, then you’re going to be in for a sweet time! This is a sushi bar that is made for a larger crowd.
Parties of 8 or more folks will easily be able to find ample seating (with enough notice and a reservation, at least!). Given that many of the other restaurants that we’ve covered are often made with small groups in mind, this is the perfect place to stop by with friends and family!
And, of course, this is a high-class professional restaurant, so expect fantastic service (even for larger groups), and plenty of fresh dishes that any sushi lover will know and enjoy. There’s even a pretty amazing list of cocktails that you can pick from and enjoy!
If we had any suggestions for when and how to visit Nobu San Diego, we would recommend going with a larger party of 6 or more people.
The sharing platter sand options provide plenty of opportunity to try out new flavors while giving you decent proportion sizes with each plate too.
So, Nobu was a pretty big sushi bar. But even it can’t hold a candle to the sheer size and spectacle of Mikami’s Revolving Sushi Bar.
With 6,000 square feet of space, this is by far the biggest sushi restaurant in San Diego. It’s the biggest in the whole of California!
That size is also reflected in the menu length. With over 70 different types of sushi to pick from, you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to dining at Mikami’s!
Now, you may be worried that all that quantity comes at a quality cost. Don’t worry: From classic takes on your staple maki and sashimi, to innovative new recipes, everything is prepared fresh, and stands up to any quality control test that you can throw at it!
Plus, you aren’t even limited to sushi when eating at Mikami Bar. You can also order plenty of other iconic and delicious Japanese meals, from udon noodles, fried rice, yakisoba, and ramen. All of it is fresh, and all of it will be some of the best food you’ve ever tasted!
Now, if you’re looking for an exclusive, prestige experience, you’ll want to book a table at Hidden Fish.
We say book because this is such a high-demand restaurant, you’re going to have to book a table if you want to experience this 12-seated restaurant dining experience!
With executive chef John Hong giving you a rotating selection of the finest fish meals from Japan’s pristine Toyusu market, it’s well worth the effort to book!
So, there you have it!
It shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that one of the biggest cities in California has more than its fair share of amazing sushi restaurants handy. Heck, there are so many more that we wanted to cover, but couldn’t fit in!
However, whether it’s your first time visiting, your 21st stop-by, or even a local looking to try something a little different, we hope that this compiled list has given you more than enough options to chew on!
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