Japanese Elixir: Top 5 Sake Joints in Atlanta

After a stressful day at work, numerous family obligations or even those times when you just need to wash away the trials of the day, nothing is better than a nice glass of something with a little kick. Very few drinks pack as much of a punch as sake. Today’s list is the perfect guide for the Japanese fare that is favored by several Atlanta hot spots. Here are the best places to scream out, “Sake Bomb!”

Zuma Sushi & Sake Bar

This hip Old Fourth Ward destination captivates the moment you step inside. The prominent red and black color scheme, rich mahogany hardwood floors and sexy lighting fixtures set the tone for an evening of cutting loose. You will have no problem letting your hair down once you have a look at Zuma’s extensive sake menu. If you want it, it’s here, from the more potent concoctions to those for the more modest customer. I recommend the hokkaisan, kikusui ginjyo, suigei and the kubota senjyu, which are very flavorful and aromatic. Don’t forget to ask your server which types of sake best compliments your selected meal of sushi, sashimi or nigiri; they expertly pair the right drinks to bring out the food flavors making for an all around enjoyable consumption.

Zuma Sushi & Sake Bar is located at 701 Highland Ave. 404.522.2872

Rise Sushi Lounge

Next time you’re in the heart of downtown Atlanta stop into this lovely lounge conveniently located just a block from the Georgia Aquarium and Centennial Park. Take a seat at the impressive 360 degree bar and partake of their sake menu sure to have you walking on sunshine. The sake martini is best paired with selections from the tapas menu; it features Skyy vodka, sake and cucumber. Once your entrée has arrived be more daring in your rice wine choice. Try the TY KU junmai ginjo, Japanese yuzu citron and my personal favorite, kikusakari kurahibiki daiginjo.  Between the wide open space, delicious food and elegant décor, sake is merely the icing on the cake.

Rise Sushi Lounge is located at 300 Marietta St. Suite 104 404.477.0947

MF Sushi Bar

For the total experience this is the place. Not only is this arguably one of the hottest spots in Atlanta, but the sake and sushi are top notch. From the legendary Kinjo brothers Chris and Alex, is MF Sushi, not to be confused with their other restaurant MF Buckhead. Chris, or as he is better known, “Magic Fingers” is a world-renowned sushi chef who has travelled the world displaying his craft. This means that you absolutely must sample his amazing food while you’re sipping on your favorite sake flavor. The sake selections are divided into four categories: momokawa, ozeki, sho chikubai and country, I prefer to sample one (or a couple) from each, for a complete journey. The sierra cold sake, ginjo sake and hana sake are especially good. When paired with the monthly jazz performances, this is one place you will definitely return to.

MF Sushi Bar is located at 265 Ponce De Leon Ave. 404.815.8844

Starfish Restaurant

Boasting a truly traditional Japanese experience, Starfish is small and cozy, but their offerings are quite big. Sushi, sashimi, hibachi rice and choice salads and appetizers are a great way to start any meal. It’s even better when combined with their sake; a variety of flavors ensures that there will be some you just have to try. For date night, try the sake romance or the rihaku and for a bigger celebration, the sato no homare or the ginja shizuku. Located in Buckhead, you can expect Atlanta’s elite and upscale to frequent this spot for their sake fix as well.

Starfish Restaurant is located at 2255 Peachtree Rd. Suite E & F. 404.350.0799


Having the distinction of being the first sushi, sake and wine lounge in Atlanta’s ultra-trendy Castleberry Hill district, Wasabi is the hipster’s sake joint, complete with the cozy den vibe of a coffeehouse or a spoken word venue. The best day to go is on “wine Wednesday’s” when all sake and wine selections are specially priced; it brings a whole new meaning to the term “happy hour.” If you sample nothing else, run to the bar and order the Sapporo sake bomb, I don’t need to explain any further, you already know what it means. Also try the dassai and the house nigori, but be sure to have a designated driver…you’ll need it.

Wasabi is located at 180 Walker St. SW Suite C. 404.574.5680