It's the Lenten season, which for many means skipping burgers, steaks, lamb chops, pork chops, and, well, all other forms of meat on Fridays. Luckily, that doesn't cover fish -- so to make the sacrifice of all things rich and meaty a little bit easier, we've rounded up some of our favorite places in town for a seafood-centric meal.
Little Cleo's Seafood Legend
Inside Sam Fox's Central Phoenix hangout, The Yard, you'll find Little Cleo's Seafood Legend, a trendy spot for a casual dinner. The seafood restaurant serves all manner of ocean fare, from Thai-style frog legs, Cajun shrimp, and house-smoked sturgeon with crème fraiche to traditional fish and chips, king crab legs, and a selection of oysters.
The Salt Cellar Restaurant, on Hayden Road in Scottsdale, has been a Valley staple since 1971. From the outside it looks impossibly tiny -- but that's because you'll find the dining room down three flights of wooden stairs. Known for its selection of fresh fish and Maine lobster, The Salt Cellar might not be the newest or hottest spot in town, but has been a favorite for seafood for more than a decade.
Wildfish Seafood Grille
Though Wildfish was sold to Darden Restaurants in 2011 -- that's the same company that owns Olive Garden and Red Lobster -- the restaurant, located on the Scottsdale Waterfront is still a destination for upscale seafood. You can have your choice of dishes like yellowtail sashimi, crispy salt and pepper shrimp, or batter-fried oysters. Or go big with options like jumbo Georges Bank scallops and cold water Maine lobster tails.
Hana Japanese Eatery
At Hana in Central Phoenix, chef and co-owner Lori Hashimoto serves fresh sushi including sake, hamachi, masago, and more. The family-run restaurant also has a selection of rolls but you won't want to miss the specials board, which features unique offerings like abalone, ankimo (monkfish liver), and aji (Spanish mackerel). There's also the popular Hana Lobster, a nine-ounce Brazilian lobster with garlic and asparagus.
This Scottsdale restaurant specializes in Japanese steaks and seafood with a distinctive modern twist. There are cold plates like the delicious butterfish tataki with white asparagus and yuzu, as well as hot entrees such as crispy fried squid with chili and lime. And at Roka Akor, you can order sashimi platters (that come artfully arranged on a decorative rock), nigiri sushi, rolls, and fish entrees.
Pallets Food and Bar Co. in downtown Phoenix offers a menu of Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese and Sushi items. Which means you'll have options as diverse as pad thai with shrimp, vegetarian rice paper rolls, and tofu pho. Of course, there's also a nice selection of sushi and rolls, which get a nice discount during happy hour.
Mariscos Playa Hermosa
Sixteenth Street's Mariscos Playa Hermosa proves you don't have to break the bank in order to get your seafood grub on. The family-owned restaurant has a lineup of tasty seafood cocktails like the the campechana grande, a cooked, mixed seafood cocktail that features shrimp, abalone, squid, and octopus. It gets served in a goblet with cucumber, tomato, onion, cilantro, jalapeño, and avocado.
Tumi, a Peruvian restaurant located in Chandler, will give you plenty of seafood options under their menu's From the Sea section. Some of our favorites from the menu include the tangy, citrus-y ceviche de pescado with raw tilapia marinated in lime juice and Peruvian spices and the arroz con mariscos, a Peruvian version of Spanish paella.
Located on the west side of town, Mariscos Altata offers Sinaloan-style seafood in a bright -- though, sometimes loud -- atmosphere. The restaurant specializes in shrimp, so you'll find several satisfying options including a ceviche of citrus-marinated prawns mixed with tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and spices, as well as a very popular shrimp cocktail you get to customize yourself with hot sauce and limes.
Joey Maggiore's spot for coastal Italian fare quickly has become one of our favorite spots for seafood. You can belly up to the oyster bar to start your meal at Cuttlefish and then dig into dishes like their spaghetti with crab, sea urchin, and prawns dressed in sauce made from local tomatoes and basil. Nearly all of the menu features something from the sea, so you'll have little restriction when making your selections.
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"Crudo" means raw in Italian and you can be sure that doesn't refer to red meat. Raw seafood dishes are chef Cullen Campbell's specialty, so at Crudo you can look forward to dishes like albacore with apple, black garlic, and truffle or ahi served with grilled lemon, pickled green garlic, parsley, and black pepper. There are hot options as well, including squid ink risotto with chilies, tuna, and tomato.
Romeo's Euro Cafe
This decades-old restaurant in Gilbert has an extensive menu, but some of our favorites have to be the seafood entrees. We like many of the dishes at Romeo's Euro Cafe, but some of the highlights include salmon la scala, shellfish tortellini, and the shrimp Corfu -- all of which come in generous portions, yet another plus.