The Ultimate Sushi Guide to Austin

By Megan Giller  |  July 29, 2013

Despite Austin’s landlocked nature, our city has become quite the sushi town. Chef Tyson Cole started it off with his now famous sushi fusion restaurants Uchi and Uchiko, and since their appearance the scene has only improved. Whether you’re looking for a special occasion restaurant, a crazy roll or a quick lunch, we’ve got you covered.

  • Spendy

    For a special occasion, it’s hard to beat Uchi and Uchiko. The casual yet chic atmosphere, highest-quality ingredients and innovative pairings translate into a memorable dinner (check out our guide about how to eat at Uchiko without breaking the bank). But if you’re looking for a more traditional Japanese experience, head north to either Musashino or Tomo. Musashino has long been an Austin staple, and on a recent visit, we couldn’t get enough of the buttery salmon nigiri special. And though Tomo is in a strip mall, don’t be fooled: they know sushi, so well that Austinites in the know will wait up to two hours for a taste.

  • Social Hour

    If you don’t want to break the bank to eat some raw fish, check out the daily “social hour” (read: happy hour) from 5-6:30 PM at both Uchi and Uchiko. You’ll find rolls, nigiri and a few cooked items as specials, which makes for a very affordable meal at some of Austin’s finest restaurants. Just be sure to get there early: by 5, when the restaurants open, there’s already a line that rivals Franklin’s.

  • All-Day and Late-Night Happy Hour

    For affordable sushi made even more affordable with happy-hour prices, check out West Sixth Street’s Maiko on Sundays for their all-day happy hour and most weeknights for their late-night happy hour. And lest you think you’re sacrificing quality for timing, keep in mind that Barley Swine pastry chef and sushi aficionado Kyle McKinney worked as a sushi chef there long ago.

  • Quick Work Lunches

    The piecemeal nature of sushi makes it easy to rack up the dollar signs, as well as time. One more salmon nigiri? Sure. Another rainbow roll? Why not? But if you’re looking for a more affordable, quicker lunch, Kome, Ichiban and Maru have your number. Kome is famous for its sushi lunch specials as well as its ramen, which is only offered during the daytime hours. Ichiban also offers quite the deal, and Maru always provides high-quality (if quiet) dining options.

  • Crazy Rolls

    Everything’s bigger in Texas, including the sushi rolls, and at some places, the more ingredients the better. For example, Roll On Sushi Diner’s Cholesta Roll includes mashed potatoes, chicken-fried steak and green beans in a soy wrapper, all tempura-fried and served on a bed of cream gravy. Higher-end Musashino likes to add black squid ink rice to its rolls for added flair: the Roadrunner - with squid ink rice, soft-shell crab claws, scallions and habanero-infused caviar - is topped with avocado, tempura flakes and more habanero caviar over a jalapeño-garlic mayo.

  • Credit: Brett Buchanan

    Celeb Chef

    Chef Tyson Cole has been on Iron Chef America and is constantly in the spotlight in magazines like Bon Appetit. He put Austin on the map as both a sushi town and a restaurant destination city. Try his creative small plates and raw fish creations at both Uchi and Uchiko, where you’ll also find celebrated pastry chef Philip Speer. Top Chef winner Paul Qui, who just opened his own restaurant, Qui, is also an alumnus of the Uchi family.