Sushi Taro

A neighborhood sushi house that bows to tradition.

The food: No crazy, creative rolls here, just well-executed maki classics such as spicy tuna, yellowtail with scallion, and eel with cucumber. The lengthy nigiri roster offers more variety than most, with three grades of tuna (regular, medium fatty, and fatty toro), three kinds of mackerel, and four different clams. Beyond raw fish and vinegared rice, there’s a yakitori list of more than 20 charcoal-grilled skewers—from broccoli to chicken liver to beef hearts. Other non-sushi entrées include tempura assortments, teriyaki, and udon or soba noodles served hot or cold.

The scene: This easily missed second floor space above a CVS is one of Washington’s oldest and most authentic sushi bars. It’s a favorite of Japanese expats and visiting dignitaries as well as crowds from the Dupont/Logan Circle neighborhoods, so expect to wait for a table, even on a weeknight. A handsome cherrywood sushi bar is the main attraction, taking up about half the restaurant. From a perch along the bar, diners watch multiple sushi chefs turn out platter after platter. Lively groups congregate on Japanese mats at low tables, but there are also traditional tables and chairs. With no bar area to speak of, waiting patrons crowd the small space near the host stand.

What’s nearby: Sushi Taro’s 17th Street location is within two blocks of the Dupont Circle Metro station (Red Line). With its proximity to both Dupont and Logan circles, there’s lots of retail nearby and plenty of bars to check out before or after dinner.

Insider tips: Though Sushi Taro takes limited reservations (until 12:30 at lunch and 7 at dinner), much of the restaurant is left open for walk-ins. The wait time the host quotes is usually spot on, so put your name on the list and grab a drink down the street at Jack’s or the Fox and Hounds instead of fighting for space in the tiny waiting area.
You can keep tabs down by ordering a mix of yakitori and sushi—the raw stuff may be on the pricey side (two pieces of nigiri range from $4.50 to $9.50), but many of the tasty skewers are just $1.50.
The restaurant offers discounted, validated parking ($3) at the Colonial garage on P Street (between 16th and 17th streets).