Yes, Denver sits in a landlocked state, in the middle of the county. But Elon Musk is landing rockets on shipping freighters in the middle of the ocean, so importing fish from Japan to anywhere in the world within 24 hours isn’t all that impressive anymore.
Yes, really good sushi can happen in Denver. Embrace the absurdity that is life and set yourself free.
Here are 15 of our favorite spots around town.
The best sushi restaurant in the city, and arguably one of the overall best restaurants in the state. As one of the very first sushi bars in the United States to buy directly from markets in Japan, you won’t find fresher fish, or a fresher atmosphere. A seat at the sushi bar overseeing the knife work and roll prep is as entertaining as it is delicious. And the omakase play here is a must-do at least once, especially if you live in Denver.
If your idea of a great sushi dinner includes good toro and a half-dozen sake bombs, this is your spot. Hai is the move for birthdays or big groups looking to get a little rowdy at dinner, and really rowdy after dinner. It’s basically the perfect spot to make you and your obnoxious friends feel a bit distinguished before you go make a mess of yourselves later on. They have one of the most expansive sushi menus in town, but somehow manage to maintain a really high level of quality regardless of what you order.
We know you’ve been waiting patiently for a good reason to upgrade to that Uber XL ride downtown, and here it is. Sasa is the ultimate fancy, intimate Denver dining destination when it comes to sushi in this town, and a real special occasion power play. Though, if the full-on dinner experience is too intimidating for you, stop in for their happy hour, when a handful of fancy dishes and drinks are on special. Just try not to spill soy sauce on your shirt.
Izakaya is basically the Lebron James to Sushi Den’s Michael Jordan when it comes to raw fish at a Mile High. Both are amazing in their own special ways, and both sit a few steps higher on the talent ladder as compared to other sushi spots around town (and they both get their fish from the same place). If you want Sushi Den-quality food, but in a more hip and lively environment, Izakaya is your play.
This is strip mall sushi at its finest. Namiko’s is unassuming and delicious, and our favorite stop for lunch when we want to sadistically eat fish while seated next to a giant aquarium filled with other fish (fish we can only assume have developed some pretty sociopathic tendencies). Namiko’s takeout game is one of the best in town, and The Line of Fire Shrimp appetizer is a must-order.
Most people think of ramen when we mention Tokio. And yes, the bowls are absolutely worth noting. But we think the sushi here might outshine the noodles - especially when it’s hot out. All the pieces come in big cuts, so don’t freak out when you see the prices - it’s all worth it. Sit at the bar and let the guys in the back do all the work for you. We’ve never been disappointed when ordering the chef’s choice option from the menu.
With multiple locations around the city, all right in the middle of great neighborhoods, Hapa is basically Chipotle in sushi form - very easy, and very useful, if not the greatest thing you’ll ever eat. Hapa serves good, affordable food and there’s usually one nearby when the mood strikes. You’ll find a nice mix of healthier stuff, raw protein, and the creamy and fried stuff and most of the menu has entertaining names.
Starch up the collar of your best button-up or step into your tallest heels, and finally fulfill that dream of ordering a $700 bottle of sake. This is the see and be seen place in Denver, and thankfully they also have really good fish. As part of the Nobu family, it’s a given that you’ll get a great meal here. Just be prepared to pay a lot for it.
Sushi Bay sits on Tennyson St. and serves high-quality food at really reasonable prices.
The menu at Sushi Ronin includes a large number of cooked or seared options, which aren’t as great when compared to the cold menu. Stick with the raw/uncooked stuff and you’ll be happy.
This is where you want to go to have a good time in LoDo and eat cheap but high-quality fish. The space resembles the lobby of most hotels, or celebrity closets - lot of mirrors and shiny decor, and a lot of Steve Aoki playing on repeat. Their Happy Hour includes $3.50 sake bombs from 10:30pm until midnight, so it’s a great place to find a second wind before moving on to the more debaucherous part of your night. Same deal from 3-6:30pm if you’re looking for something a little earlier.
There might be better places to eat sushi in the same area, but Sushi-Rama is all about the experience. We love the little conveyor belt service that wraps the tables and delivers your food. Just sit as close to the front of the belt line as possible, or watch as people in front of you ruthlessly grab the fresh stuff before it gets to you.
Shiso is your run-of-the-mill sushi stop Monday through Saturday. Come Sunday though, things get interesting with their all-you-can-eat deal for $25 per person. We know the all-you-can-eat feature isn’t new or unique to Shiso - but Shiso does it the best in Denver.
We have to hand it to Ototo. It sits right next to arguably the two best sushi spots in town, and still manages to fill seats night after night. People might argue that this place just serves the spillover crowds from the more famous Dens just up the street, but we don’t think that’s the case at all. Ototo offers a much more laid-back atmosphere in a much smaller space. We actually prefer it to the Dens on nights when we want to eat some good fish but avoid scenes and crowds. And it’s one of the best under-the-radar date spots in the city.
Okinawa is our favorite casual sushi spot in the city. With a nice blend of common rolls you’re used to, and seasonal premium rolls you’re not, regardless of your preference, you won’t be disappointed by anything here (other than being too full to order more).