Ceviche from the Salt Cellar in south Scottsdale.
Ceviche from the Salt Cellar in south Scottsdale.
Evie Carpenter

A Seafood Lover's Field Guide to Metro Phoenix

No matter if you prefer Atlantic or Pacific-style seafood, Gulf Coast or West Coast fare, we’ve rounded up some of the best seafood dishes from all over the Valley. 

Fish fiends and lobster lovers, here's your field guide to eating seafood in metro Phoenix – categorized by your favorite crustaceans, mollusks, and other underwater edibles.

Appetizers

A seafood field guide must start with …well, starters. Kick off with the shrimp cocktail or ceviche at AZ88, the halibut ceviche from the Salt Cellar Restaurant, or the Cabo Seafood Cocktail at the Watershed (the patio is worth it). There's also the crab meat cocktail with house remoulade sauce and lemon at Ocean Trail at Talking Stick Resort.

And what’s a seafood appetizer section without mention of calamari? Try the Abalone Style Calamari at Hula's Modern Tiki, the Rhode Island Calamari & Shrimp at Steak 44, and the Fritto Misto at the Parlor.

Try the Inner Harbor crab cakes at Crab & Mermaid.
Try the Inner Harbor crab cakes at Crab & Mermaid.
Lauren Saria

Crab

As any Valley crab lover knows, the go-to spot for a Cajun-style crab fest is Angry Crab Shack, where diners can choose from several sauces and spice levels. Plus, with multiple locations all over town, Angry Crab means your next meal doesn't have to be far from home. For other fixes, order the soft shell crab small plate at the Clever Koi, the Dungeness crab at Crazy Chicken and Crab, or try the crab enchilada plate at Mariscos Playa Hermosa.

Little Cleo’s Seafood Legend also offers king crab in a couple of ways: the LC's Shellfish Supreme includes crab, oysters, and plenty of other seafood, while the warm jar of king crab and butter comes with grilled bread for dipping. There's also the king crab salad and the king crab legs plate. If you're looking for a straight-up crab dinner, you can find an Alaskan King Crab entree at the Salt Cellar, Crab & Mermaid Fish Shop, and Bluewater Grill Seafood Restaurant & Market.

We’re far from Maryland, but Old Line State-style crab cakes can be found on plenty of restaurant menus. Try the Maryland Crab Cakes at the Salt Cellar, the Inner Harbor Crab Cakes at Crab & Mermaid, and Maryland Style Crab cakes at Bluewater Grill. There are also Chilean Crab Cakes at Citizen Public House and the Gladly.

Seafood for breakfast is also an option, thanks to the Crab Shrimp Benedict at Duza’s Kitchen. Just saying.

Pete’s Fish & Chips has been serving piping-hot fried fish baskets since 1947.EXPAND
Pete’s Fish & Chips has been serving piping-hot fried fish baskets since 1947.
Lauren Cusimano

Deep Fried

This well-known style of seafood fare is close to the hearts of many and the Valley has a number of piping-hot fish and shrimp shacks around town.

For just about fried anything, places including Knock Kneed Lobster, Mandy's Fish & Chips, Oscar's Pier 83, Taylor's Chowder House, and the Codfather are some obvious choices. Another iconic fried seafood menu in metro Phoenix is found at the casual Pete’s Fish & Chips – which opened as the Chip House in 1947 at 31st Avenue and Van Buren Road. These cash-only, order-from-the-window spots are known for crunchy seafood baskets, open-late kitchens, and of course, their secret sauce.

Some impressive fish and chips platters are found at a number of United Kingdom-centric eateries around town. Order the fish and chips at George & Dragon, British Open Pub, Rose & Crown, Rosie McCaffrey’s Irish Pub, and Fibber Magees Irish Restaurant & Pub – all of which are just begging for that vinegar on the table.

Enjoy the seared organic Scottish salmon at Beckett's Table.EXPAND
Enjoy the seared organic Scottish salmon at Beckett's Table.
Courtesy of Beckett's Table

Fish

For that missing touch of Caribbean cuisine in your diet, the Breadfruit & Rum Bar offers modern Jamaican dishes in the form of seafood, salads, and appetizers. The downtown restaurant's menu has a Fisherman’s Choice section, offering a Pan Seared Chilean Sea Bass and the Escovitch Fish & Festival – pan-fried, whole red snapper covered in escovitch sauce and served with festival bread. There’s also a lengthy menu of craft cocktails, and a slew of premium rums and cigars, all of which go well with fish.

Salmon is, of course, a favorite among fish lovers, and you’ll find the Seared Organic Scottish Salmon on the dinner menu at Beckett's Table, the Filet of Scottish Salmon at Christopher's Restaurant & Crush Lounge, and the salmon in garlic sauce at the Sea of Cortez-style San Carlos Bay Seafood Restaurant. Of course, your full-time seafood restaurants have salmon in the kitchen as well, including the Fire Grilled Salmon at Bluewater Grill and the Salmon Oscar at the Salt Cellar.

You can even choose your own fish (from cod to Mahi Mahi to Halibut) at Crab & Mermaid, followed by your choice of sauce or spice, prep, and style – i.e. salad, sandwich, or plate. You can also select from an array of fish and prep at Bluewater Grill, Hula's, or ask what the “Just Out” Market Fish is at The Windsor.

The lobster roll plate at Crab & Mermaid Fish Shop, a seafood restaurant and bar in Scottsdale.EXPAND
The lobster roll plate at Crab & Mermaid Fish Shop, a seafood restaurant and bar in Scottsdale.
Patricia Escarcega

Lobster

Use the search query for “Phoenix lobster,” and you’ll see the Maine Lobster Lady on that first page of results. A food truck first that first appeared in Scottsdale in 2012, the Maine Lobster Lady offers a menu with selections such as a traditional and hot-buttered Maine Lobster Roll, Maine Lobster Lady Lobster Bisque, and Lobster-Lobster Mac & Cheese. She’s not around during the summer (as she’s home in Maine working on her husband Greg’s lobster boat, Shock Wave), but when you see the Maine Lobster Lady food truck, do not sleep on it.

Of course there are places in metro Phoenix where you can grab lobster rolls throughout the year. Find the Maine Lobster Roll at Little Cleo’s, and the New England Lobster Roll at Crab & Mermaid.

The Salt Cellar has dedicated a chunk of its menu to lobster entrees, stating, “We take pride in serving only live Maine lobsters from our lobster tank.” Your choices include the 1.5-pound Harbor Master’s Choice, the baked stuffed lobster (an entire lobster stuffed with crab and scallops for you seafood fanatics), and the steak and lobster – a 1.25-pound lobster joined with a little filet mignon.

Try Ocean Trail's Steamed P.E.I. Mussels – black mussels with white wine, shallots, and herbs.EXPAND
Try Ocean Trail's Steamed P.E.I. Mussels – black mussels with white wine, shallots, and herbs.
Courtesy of Talking Stick Resort

Mollusks

Oysters are a big deal; here and everywhere else. Find your favorite half shell spot after visiting Casey Moore’s Oyster House, the Abby’s Oyster Bar at Buck & Rider, Walrus & The Pearl at Desoto Central Market, and the new raw bar at The Glady. Though technically an appetizer, one enticing menu item is the oyster shooter at Ocean Trail. It’s a fresh oyster with half a shot of Three Olives vodka and Bloody Mary mix.

For mussel heads, find steamed, Blue Hill Bay Mussels in butter sauce at the Salt Cellar, linguine and mussels in squid ink pasta at Little Cleo’s, and the Mussels in Zesty Marinara at Bluewater Grill. Ocean Trail offers Prince Edward Island mussels, which come as steamed black mussels with white wine, shallots, and herbs.

Clams are another mollusk must, so try the Cherrystone Clams at Bluewater Grill, the Garlic Baked Clams at Crab & Mermaid, or the bucket of steamed clams in broth at the Salt Cellar. We don’t want to dig too into clam chowder, but you’re almost guaranteed a fantastic bowl of it at any seafood restaurant in Phoenix, especially obvious places like Taylor’s Chowder House. We would also recommend the clam chowder with puff pastry lid on Fridays at Rúla Búla Irish Pub.

Order the Appleton Rum Scallops at the Breadfruit & Rum Bar.
Order the Appleton Rum Scallops at the Breadfruit & Rum Bar.
Courtesy of the Breadfruit & Rum Bar

Scallops

Though scallops are also mollusks, we wanted to give them their own section. Those little plops of buttery heaven have found their way into a couple of seafood joints throughout the Valley. Crush Lounge features the Scallops of the Day, while Bluewater Grill offers the Seared Eastern Sea Scallops. At Little Cleo’s, you can get a small plate of Diver Scallop Crudo, or a large plate of “Bouillabaisse” – scallops along with mussels, shrimp, and saffron.

The Salt Cellar yields a number of scallop-heavy dishes, including the Charcoal Broiled Georges Bank Sea Scallops and the Sautéed Sea Scallops. Citizen Public House’s menu features the Pan Seared Scallops with tender belly Hampshire bacon, and the Breadfruit & Rum Bar gives us the Appleton Rum Sea Scallops, which are covered with a jerk rub and Appleton Estate Jamaica Rum.

Cajun-style shrimp is available by the pound from Angry Crab Shack & BBQ.
Cajun-style shrimp is available by the pound from Angry Crab Shack & BBQ.
Lauren Saria

Shrimp

If you’ve been waiting for this section, thank you for your patience. Shrimp fiends know what they want, and come in large numbers. For big shrimpin’ in the Valley, decide if you want it broiled, sautéed, scampi-ed, or what.

Find the Shrimp and Filet, Shrimp Scampi, Shrimp San Remo on Pappardelle Pasta, and more on the Salt Cellar menu. You’ll also find shrimp culichi at San Carlos Bay, and raw shrimp at Abby’s Oyster Bar at Buck &Rider.

If you’re missing that New Orleans life, Little Cleo's offers Cajun shrimp, and the Gulf Coast section of the Crab & Mermaid menu features the Po’ Boy and Ragin’ Cajun Peel n’ Eat Shrimp. For boiled shrimp, find them sauced with traditional boil, Kajun, garlic, and more at all locations of Angry Crab. Back at Ocean Trail, you can order the Cajun Style Shrimp Boil – a .75-pound of peeled shrimp in a garlic-creole spice – as a hot appetizer.

Crab & Mermaid is an Old Town Scottsdale seafood destination.EXPAND
Crab & Mermaid is an Old Town Scottsdale seafood destination.

Tuna

Though also a fish, we wanted to give tuna the last word. If you grew up with canned fish, there’s a whole world of discovery out there, and we’re going to point out a few menu items that might be more your tune-a.

The sesame-adorned seared or grilled ahi tuna will satisfy your craving at several places. Pita Jungle’s is paired perfectly in hummus (we recommend the jalapeño flavor), and Bluewater Grill’s comes with marinated hearts of palm. Little Cleo’s offers a small plate of ahi tuna tartare with spicy mayo, yuzu caramel, toasted garlic, and cucumber, and a larger dish of grilled ahi tuna with mushroom ginger dumpling and spicy caramelized soy. There's also the ahi tuna crudo at Crudo, which features thin slices of raw fish with pistachio and horseradish. 

To add a little heat, there’s the seared chia tuna at Citizen Public House, the seared spicy tuna at the Gladly, and the yellowfin tuna at Crab & Mermaid, which is prepped your way.

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