When it comes to popular sushi destinations, the Windy City is bursting at the seams. From combination Pan-Asian restaurants to heritage spots that have served up stellar sushi for decades on end, Chicago has no shortage of showstopping options. Caviar diners know what’s good, and these are the places you order from most.
Sushi-san is a serious sushi destination that’s not afraid to have a little fun. Owned by the same restaurant group that owns Naoki and other fine-dining Japanese spots, Sushi-san offers more than rote rolls. Try the compelling umami scallop aburi, featuring crispy pressed rice topped with chopped scallop, spicy mayo, and black sesame seeds.
2. Sushi Taku
This sushi spot is a popular destination for the Wicker Park crowd from afternoon to night. You’ll find plenty of delicious and familiar offerings here, from the shrimp tempura roll to the Spider roll. But the restaurant’s signature rolls are where they shine. Locals know to order the Green Turtle: a spicy white tuna roll with crunchy bits, avocado, and wasabi mayo.
Rolls made with artistry are the name of the game at this specialty sushi restaurant. Yuzu also dives into robata — short for robatayaki, or the Japanese method of cooking over hot charcoal — and that’s worth trying(the sampler is a don’t-miss). But the inventive and satiating Sin Nombre roll, made with seared yuzu albacore and topped with seared salmon and ponzu sauce, is reason alone to order from this standout spot.
Nobu Matsuhisa’s decades-long restaurant empire lives on in this Windy City’s incarnation. The Alaskan black cod served with miso glaze and pickled ginger is as vibrant as ever, as is the yellowtail jalapeño burnished with yuzu soy. This timeless classic continues to set the highest bar when it comes to sushi in Chicago.
Humboldt Park’s Zoku Sushi offers affordable sushi to Chicagoans seeking a casual, relaxed experience. At Zoku, food is more fusion than strictly Japanese (global items like pad Thai also make an appearance on the menu), although diners can dive straight into the sushi set with a test run of whatever’s freshest.
The slogan attached to the multi-location Gorilla Sushi says it all: Fresh, Fun, & Fabulous. This sushi operation aims for the trifecta, bringing to the table a bubbly personality, fresh food, and pop of vibrance. With a full roster of gorgeous sushi and nigiri, as well as regular and specialty rolls, it’s easy to fall head over heels. It’s even easier when you have the scallop shooter — one perfect scallop draped in ponzu, scallion, and sriracha — delivered right to your door.
This established sushi restaurant has served stellar Japanese food to Chicagoans in the West Loop neighborhood for over 20 years, and its following remains strong. The Godzilla roll is an ever-popular item, and it’s clear why: Who can deny, after all, the deliciousness of a sushi roll teeming with tempura shrimp, sriracha, scallions, masago, cream cheese, and extra tempura flakes? Not us.
Known as Chicago’s original sushi bar, this haunt dates back to 1967, and the sushi remains as good today as it was 55 years ago. Expect clean, to-the-point flavors that deliver a delicious punch — and save room for the summer maki roll that’s as lovely as the spring weather.
This casual Japanese restaurant in Lakeview East prides itself on its mindful integration of fresh ingredients into its constantly evolving menu. Soy sauce is produced in-house, and nigiri and sushi all boast a place of origin. Order the handcrafted nigiri, which is taken to the next level with ingredients like black truffle, kizami wasabi, and garlic butter sauce.
10. Kizami Sushi
Lincoln Park’s Kizami Sushi dedicates itself to local, seasonal fare, utilizing ingredients sourced from Chicago’s farmer’s markets. You’ll find an evolving menu at Kizami, as well as tons of vegetable-forward rolls (think kampyo made with dried gourd strips, or the Super Green maki made with berry rice).
South Loop’s Thai Spoon & Sushi blends together two imminently popular world cuisines — Thai and Japanese — with expert precision. Sushi rolls extend well beyond basic, with luscious, textured ingredients like the torched squid atop the firefly maki roll.
These family-owned restaurants lean into a host of different Asian cuisines, from Chinese to Thai. But when it comes to Japanese food, sushi is king. Affordably priced rolls range from expected (tuna avocado) to deliciously unique (salmon bacon, made with salmon skin, avocado, cucumber, masago, and sweet soy). But don’t skip the spicy Firecracker, made with tempura-battered and fried kana crab — a surefire winner.
New-to-the-scene Blue Sushi Sake Grill in Lincoln Park has already made a big impression. The restaurant, which opened last November, is part of the Flagship Restaurant Group. Being a partner of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch — a sustainable advisory group —.means products offer detailed sourcing information. The tombo ahi nigiri, for instance, uses pole-caught albacore from Canada and Alaska, which carries an eco-certification.
Since it opened its doors in 2014, Niu B has been known as the go-to spot for sustainable sushi and ramen. Today, executive chef Jimmy Cao continues the vision that began in the South Loop nearly a decade ago, relying on sustainably sourced seafood and Kurobuta pork as the centerpieces for a creative menu.
Routinely recognized as one of Chicago’s best sushi restaurants, Arami is a showcase of chef Ismael Lopez’s skill. Sushi, small plates, and inventive cuisine are all on display at this fine dining haven. Order the omakase for an in-home dining experience like no other: four options are available, including the magnificent 10-piece nigiri and five-piece futo maki chef’s tasting.
A merging of Thai and Japanese cuisines yields Rice Café, a casual spot beloved by Chicagoans. The popular Fire roll is inspired by Thailand’s most reputable hot sauce, Sriracha. Don’t hesitate: this combination of yellowtail, tuna, jalapeño, spicy mayo, hot sauce, and crispy shallot is worth every fiery bite.
17. Toro Sushi
Casual and affordable, this Lincoln Park sushi go-to is popular with college students and post-grads alike. Sushi here is easy on the palate and even easier on the wallet (who wouldn’t love a roll like the Hot Finger, with deep-fried spicy salmon, unagi, and sesame seeds for $8?). Some of the other maki rolls are worth the higher price; they’re large enough to feed a crowd.
Wicker Park’s four-time Michelin-recommended Seadog Sushi Bar promotes a modern take on Japanese cuisine. Notably, many of Seadog’s menu items are vegetarian and vegan friendly, so this is definitely a must-visit for the seafood-averse sushi lover in your life. The shiitake mushroom tempura maki roll, may, in fact, change your mind about whether or not sushi needs to include fish.
Casual, affordable, and fresh, this sushi restaurant offers sushi and sashimi dinner selections for unbeatable prices, ranging from $20 to $25. They feature a combination of sushi, nigiri, and maki, and highlight the whimsy of the chef.
Niu Japanese Fusion — a Chicago icon since 2007 — is the kind of opulent, decorous restaurant that makes dining feel special. But the food feels no less momentous at home, which may be why this restaurant remains one of the city’s most popular.
Lake View East’s Sumo Sushi & Hibachi remains a strong favorite among sushi and hibachi lovers alike. The sushi side is compelling (the heart-shaped Sweetheart roll, filled with tuna, avocado, and mango, and topped with more tuna), and noodles, teriyaki, and tempura dinner entrées round out the easy-to-please menu.
A Wicker Park neighborhood favorite, Nori Sushi offers creative sushi, sashimi, and maki rolls inspired from the local market and the morning fish delivery. Cheekiest of all of Nori’s offerings is the Chicago-centric Willis Tower roll, a (yes) towering roll of unagi, cream cheese, crab stick, asparagus tempura, and spicy sauce, all deep-fried to perfection.
One of Chicago’s most beloved sushi restaurants, Tanoshii, is serving up superlative omakase and just about everything else. Fish is fresh, pairings are inventive, and dishes like the bluefin truffle sashimi— enhanced by truffle honey and chive sauce — will haunt your dreams … in the best way.
For over two decades, Mirai Sushi has pleased the palates of the good people of Wicker Park. Some dishes, like the tuna tuna salmon (a poached salmon roll topped with tuna and creamy wasabi) require no introduction to Mira regulars. And everyone knows that the kani nigiri — spicy baked king crab served as a nigiri-style duo — is a must here.
The dual arts of robata and sushi blend seamlessly at this River North spot, where high-quality fish, marinated meat and vegetables, and blended cooking styles are the names of the game. Menu items are boundary-pushing, and that’s a good thing. Go bold: the truffled sake roll with salmon, avocado, white peach, balsamic vinegar, sesame chili, and truffle honey is a fun, experimental ode to all things sushi.