Sushi. It's what for dinner. And lunch, especially if you're in a rush at Whole Foods. But who in this great land of ours makes the best sushi? The freshest & most mouthwatering maki? The heaven-approved hand rolls? Well, in order to find out, we spent a lot of time dipping and eating everywhere from strange strip malls in Pasadena to the stranger side roads of downtown Boston, plus many spots in between. We paid particular attention to the places closest to the water, and those that care more about giving you seasonal, changing menus of fish you can get locally than just giving you the same thing over and over. Not that we're really complaining, Whole Foods.
Arami was an instant hit when it opened in Chicago in 2010, drawing patrons in with its tranquil skylit back room and, more importantly, well-executed, traditionally rooted sushi that could swim (figuratively speaking, the fish is generally no longer alive) with anyone's. Since then chefs have changed, but the level of excellence hasn't. Like many elite places, reserving yourself the omakase is most likely to lead you to a transcendent experience, but going a la carte will still leave you quite pleased with specialty sashimi options like hamachi with mushroom and truffle oil. Pro tip: if you have any annoying vegan friends, their yasai (that means vegetable!) creations like eggplant with peanut red miso dressing will likely keep them quiet. You may even find yourself wanting to steal some.
Arigato Sushi,Santa Barbara, CA
Located on Santa Barbara’s bustling State St., Arigato’s all about sushi as art. This is a place where something as simple as sashimi looks like it was plated at the Louvre, where even things as simple as salmon are adorned with gorgonzola sauce and dill. That’s to say nothing of the not-sushi dishes like a plate of broiled scallops, shiitakes, and crab piled on sushi rice and lit on fire. Everything here’s a gorgeous spectacle. But spectacle’s worthless if the fish isn’t perfect. Lucky for you, it is.
This Northeast sushi spot melds Portlandia style with traditional sushi, tapping local beers with Asian influences and hosting pairing dinners with local breweries. While their menu doesn't stick strictly to what sushi purists would like, even their funkier rolls, like a spicy tuna & tempura shishito pepper number, don't go overboard. They also boast an omasake that’s a bargain compared to options in larger cities on this list.
ICHI Sushi + NI Bar,San Francisco, CA