A true hidden gem, I Ai Sushi's unassuming exterior reveals little about the comfortably chic atmosphere and outstanding eats within. Located in the Carrollwood neighborhood of Tampa, they offer a full selection of Japanese delicacies - including some that are hard to find, at very reasonable prices. Settle in with a warm bottle of sake and enjoy an appetizer of salted edamame or the more adventurous fried oysters. The outstanding sushi here is front and center; whether you are in the mood for creative Maki rolls or the freshest Sashimi around, you can't go wrong!
Recommended for Sushi because: A neighborhood gem, I Ai Sushi delights locals with great sushi at an affordable price.
Skye's expert tip: While prized for its authentic menu of sushi and Japanese street food, the service is a problem spot.
Set slightly away from the downtown bustle, Jackson's Bistro features a large and sophisticated menu with dishes ranging from hand-rolled sushi to an oak-grilled NY strip steak. They are also known for their extensive wine list. The setting is romantic and upscale, featuring dark mahogany walls and candle-lit tables, but it's the views of Garrison Channel and the Tampa skyline that steal the show. If the weather is good, take advantage of their large outdoor terrace. Sunday brunch at Jackson's takes the buffet route, offering a turkey, ham and roast beef carving station, pasta station, sushi station and waffle bar.
Recommended for Sushi because: Jackson's Bistro Bar & Sushi is a swanky spot to enjoy sushi and views of Tampa's downtown waterfront.
Skye's expert tip: Visit on Saturday night and stick around after your sushi for a late-night dance party.
Umami Sushi is a popular sushi restaurant open for lunch and dinner and located in the northern part of Tampa. Known for its great quality and service, this neighborhood eatery attracts diners from all over the city. They offer an extensive list of sushi and sashimi options, including a long list of the Chef's signature rolls to choose from as well. Whatever your choice, you can count on skillful preparation and creative presentation using ample fresh ingredients. The interior is modern, offers plenty of seating, and there is rarely a wait.
Recommended for Sushi because: Located in north Tampa, Umami offers high-quality sushi at reasonable prices for visitors in the area.
Skye's expert tip: Although a 30 minutes from downtown in a north Tampa suburb, this delicious sushi spot is definitely worth the drive.
Samurai Blue has two locations in Tampa, one in Ybor City and one in Westchase. The Ybor City location gets the thumbs up for cool ambiance, but both locations get high marks from savvy diners for the outstanding lunch choices. Their bento boxes, for example, carry everything from beef short ribs to sushi. If you're looking for something more visually familiar, their panko-seared crab cakes or teriyaki-salmon wrap sandwich pose tasty alternatives. Though prices elevate some at dinner, these fun-loving joints pack folks in, thanks to the sleek design, good service, and fantastic nigiri, sashimi and maki creations.
Recommended for Sushi because: Samurai Blue has earned a reputation as the go-to sushi spot for Tampa locals.
Skye's expert tip: They have a wide variety of popular specialty rolls, but the volcano roll is a fan favorite.
Conceived by the culinary tour de force behind Tampa Palms and Daily Eats, this ultra-contemporary eatery fits in well with the SoHo mentality â" it's got "big city" style, it's sexy and cosmopolitan, and it's the type of place where folks like to be seen. Bright, fanciful cocktails and a cool, underwater motif recall the Pan Asian haunts you'd find in a place like South Beach, and the menu gives the concept of sushi a few surprising twists and turns. For example, the rolls, called "water rolls" are "clear" â" that is, everything is rolled in thin rice paper â" and each truly emphasizes perfect pairings of fresh fish and seafood.
Recommended for Sushi because: Ciccio's Water offers sushi with a California twist offering their unique "water rolls."
Skye's expert tip: If you're trying to cut down on carbs, their rolls are available without the sticky rice.
A favorite spot for locals craving sushi, the Matoi Sushi and Korean Restaurant always hits the spot. Featuring a mixture of sushi and Korean dishes, it's the sushi that gets most of the attention. The restaurant offers a casual atmosphere that comfortable if a bit dated. The creative menu features a wide array of great selections, always made from the highest quality ingredients. Be sure to ask your server about daily specials and other notable menu selections. The staff at Matoi Sushi and Korean Restaurant are friendly and professional and will ensure that your dining experience is a pleasant one.
Recommended for Sushi because: The Matoi Sushi and Korean Restaurant offers consistently delicious sushi options in Tampa's Westshore business district.
Skye's expert tip: While the decor is no-frills, the sushi is not! Beautifully presented and moderate prices.
Origami Sushi is located in a Town and Country strip mall, but don't let the location fool you. Origami styles itself as the place where "sushi meets art," and with one look at their mouth-watering, beautifully crafted Japanese dishes, you're sure to agree. The emphasis here is on creativity and presentation. Start off with an appetizer of baked green mussels or pepper chicken skewers, and then get serious with the authentic raw dishes. All standard sushi fare is accounted for here, prepared with the freshest fish, and there are several rolls that incorporate surprising ingredients like conch and tilapia.
Recommended for Sushi because: Origami Sushi is a quiet neighborhood spot known for good sushi and large portions.
Skye's expert tip: Check out happy hour from 3 - 7 pm for discounts on their most popular sushi rolls, saki, and beer selections.
At Yoko's Japanese Restaurant, you'll find some of the freshest and most authentic sushi in town. Yoko's is known for its consistently good food and great service. Their extensive menu encompasses traditional dishes like Chirashi and creatively plated signature house rolls that you won't find elsewhere. If you aren't into sushi, there is a good selection of other Japanese favorites as well. As a native of Japan, Head Chef Daniel ensures that all the ingredients that go into each dish are up to par. He also helps cultivate a friendly, casual atmosphere by frequently mingling with his guests.
Recommended for Sushi because: Tampa's Yoko's Japanese Restaurant has won numerous local awards for its authentic sushi favorites.
Skye's expert tip: With a casual, informal atmosphere and a children's menu, this is a good place to take the kids.
SoHo Sushi is an upscale Japanese restaurant and sushi bar in south Tampa that has undergone many expansions and renovations over the years to keep up with their ever-increasing popularity. With a special emphasis on creative and fresh sushi and sashimi, their highly-trained chefs produce local favorites including the Green Menace roll (scallops and tempura chips wrapped in avocado) and the Red Devil roll (fried shrimp and lobster topped with tuna and avocado). The sleek and sophisticated decor acts as the perfect backdrop for their beautifully plated dishes. Usually busy, parking can be a challenge, but they do offer a free valet service after 5 pm.
Recommended for Sushi because: SoHo Sushi gets top marks with Tampa locals for its creative sushi and trendy atmosphere.
Skye's expert tip: Make reservations at least a day in advance as they don't take same day reservations.
Ebisu Sushi Shack is a recent addition to Tampa's trendy Seminole Heights neighborhood known for its dynamic dining scene. This is a mom and pop restaurant owned by Japanese chef Akemi Simmons and her husband, and whose goal is to serve tasty sushi rolls and homemade Japanese dishes using fresh, high-quality seafood. Located in a small, renovated bungalow, the decor is casual with some industrial elements and Japanese movie and anime posters lining the walls. This sushi spot is quickly gaining a reputation as a laid-back neighborhood hangout where patrons can enjoy quality sushi at reasonable prices.
Recommended for Sushi because: Tampa's Ebisu Sushi Shack has quickly grown a dedicated following in a neighborhood already known for its great dining options.
Skye's expert tip: Check out their happy hour options (4:30-6:30) that features BOGO beers and sushi specials.