Last summer, we featured a deep-dive into the world of mariscos in the Valley that explored everything from the colorful interior of many of mariscos joint to how eating seafood has also developed into an important part of Mexican cultural life.
Whether you’ve never stepped foot inside a Phoenix marisqueria, or you live for cold seafood cocktails spiked with citrus and chile, here are some of the best spots in metro Phoenix to sample the city’s thriving marisqueria scene.
Mariscos Playa Hermosa
1605 East Garfield Street
A longtime central Phoenix favorite, Mariscos Playa Hermosa is one of the city’s best marisquerias for marisqueria newbies. The menu is comprehensive enough for group-friendly dining, and the bustling, family-friendly dining room, bedecked in the bold colors of traditional Mexican décor, will charm even the most hardened mariscos-phobes.
Try the molcajete caliente, a bubbling cauldron furnished with a juicy shrimp, grilled chicken, and whitefish served with a bracingly fresh green tomatillo sauce. Mariscos Playa Hermosa is also a good destination for classic plates like camarones a la diabla — shrimp bathed in a spicy, smoky chipotle sauce. As with any decent marisqueria, there’s a full bar pumping out micheladas and margaritas round-the-clock on weekends.
2601 East Bell Road
45 West Broadway Road, Mesa
The lively Restaurant Sinaloa, with locations in both north Phoenix and Mesa, has one of the most comprehensive selections of Mexican-style mariscos in the city. The menu spans several pages, and runs the gamut from simple raw platters to hot dishes like tender pulpo al mojo de ajo (octopus in a garlic butter sauce).
A good place to start is with the torre de mariscos, a glistening, edible tower composed of various types of seafood: cooked shrimp, tender hunks of grilled octopus, and buttery scallops and sea snails. This an excellent spot to indulge in a seafood cocktail, especially the house cocktail, El Sinaloense, a tangy medley of pulpo (octopus), oysters, and sea snail, garnished with head-on shrimp. As with many Mexican mariscos restaurants, a small corner of the menu is dedicated to Italian dishes. Shrimp fettuccine Alfredo? Yup, it’s here.
Mariscos El Malecon de Mazatlan
416 West Thomas Road
This is one of the friendliest marisquerias on the west side, a modest restaurant whose dining room is awash in Mazatlan-inspired nostalgia. The décor and bric-a-brac celebrate the Sinaloan resort town at every turn, and the feeling of homesickness is punctuated by the norteño trio that sometimes wanders the dining room playing weepy love songs.
The menu at El Malecon is enormous, spanning botanas frias (cold snacks), seafood cocktails, various types of aguachile and ceviches, and surf-and-turf parrilladas (beef and seafood served on a small tabletop grill). A must-try house specialty is the discada de mariscos, a sizzling seafood platter of well-seasoned calamari, shrimp, sea snail, and octopus lavished with grilled onions and peppers.
2019 North 16th Street
4130 North 27th Avenue
3242 West Van Buren Street
2919 North 59th Avenue
This unfussy local micro-chain has been serving Baja-style seafood dishes in the Valley since 1994. Service is quick and friendly at Mariscos Ensenada, and the menu offers great value on seafood cocktails and whole fried fish like mojarra frita (fried tilapia).
Try the green ceviche, a bright, spicy salad overflowing with shrimp and scallops, served in a delightfully tart green sauce. Seafood tostadas are fresh and generously portioned. The jaiba, a tostada topped with fresh crab and slivers of buttery avocado, is a winner.
Las Glorias Restaurante de Mariscos
5220 South Central Avenue
A staple of south central Phoenix, Las Glorias offers a friendly, spacious dining room tricked out with all the usual nautical-themed kitsch and curios — plastic manta ray and antique maritime wheels nailed to the walls, bright sea-inspired murals, and fake potted palm trees.
Come here for the classics: coctel de camaron y pulpo, a shrimp and octopus cocktail served in a deliciously briny cocktail sauce; hollowed-out coconuts filled with fresh ceviche; and steaming, oversize bowls of traditional Mexican seafood stews, including a fine caldo de Siete Mares (Seven Seas soup), the classic Mexican bouillabaisse that is the measure of any good marisqueria.
San Diego Bay Restaurant
9201 South Avenida del Yaqui, Guadalupe
Tucked into a corner of Guadalupe’s sleepy tianguis (open-air marketplace), San Diego Bay has been serving fresh Mexican seafood dishes for longer than most of the corporate seafood chain restaurants in nearby Tempe. The cheery dining room, with its bright blue walls and tables draped in white tablecloths, is distinctly old-fashioned and pleasant. And the menu, boasting more than 100 seafood dishes, has something for everyone.
Highlights include a smoldering, ultra-cheesy molcajete de camaron, a lava rock cauldron bubbling over with plump shrimp served in a fragrant tomato broth. Pescado empapelado, a whole red snapper steamed in a foil wrapper with leeks, onions, and peppers, is exceptionally succulent. Don’t overlook the tacos, either. The marlin and shrimp tacos are served in irresistibly crisp, freshly fried tortilla shells.
Mariscos Vuelve a la Vida
5630 West Camelback Road, Glendale
2915 North 43rd Avenue
220 East Southern Avenue
A favorite of the Sunday morning hangover set, Mariscos Vuelve a la Vida is a funky, sometimes raucous Mexican fish house with three locations in the Valley. Service tends to be more perfunctory than friendly, but it’s worth waiting around for something like the Vuelve a la Vida (“Come back to life”), a cool, chunky seafood cocktail made with citrusy octopus, oysters, calamari, sea snails, and scallops.
If you love fresh clams, don’t miss the pata de mula, also known as wild Mexican blood clams. If you can get past their less-than-appetizing name, the clams, which are served raw on the half shell with shrimp and avocado, are lightly sweet and succulent. Tacos are quite good here, especially the classic Sinaloan shrimp gobernador. The softly griddled taco is plump with juicy shrimp and grilled bell peppers, and generously lubricated with molten hot cheese.
Mariscos Bahia de Guaymas
4220 South 16th Street
This modest-looking south-side marisqueria isn’t as flashy or crowded as some other seafood restaurants around town. But what Mariscos Bahia de Guaymas lacks in sex appeal, it makes up for in its exhaustive list of carefully prepared and notably fresh seafood.
Come here for harder-to-find regional specialties like caldo de Cahuamanta, the classic northern Mexico manta ray stew that’s as comforting as old-fashioned chicken soup. It would be a mistake not to order the empanadas de camaron. A half-dozen of these cheesy shrimp handpies will set you back about 10 bucks, but it’s a worthy splurge. If you can’t get enough of the shrimp-and-cheese combo, Bahia de Guaymas also makes a mean shrimp-stuffed chile relleno.
Mariscos El Rey
830 West Southern Avenue, Mesa
Where can you go where the micheladas are decently spicy, the portions are always huge, and live music on the weekends turns the dining room into something of a cheerful echo chamber? You go to a spot like Mariscos El Rey, a Mesa mariscos parlor where dinner begins with a complimentary cup of briny, spicy seafood broth.
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Classic coastal dishes like mojarra frita and huachinango zarandeado, the chile-rubbed grilled fish dish that’s endemic to any good Mexican beach cookout, are rich and succulent. Leave some room for lighter dishes like albondigas de camaron (shrimp ball soup), or any of the restaurant’s fresh seafood tostadas.
Bertha’s Restaurant “El Sabor de Los Mochis”
1212 South 28th Avenue
This unassuming mom-and-pop restaurant is not a typical Phoenix-area marisqueria. You won’t find a sprawling menu, cold beer, or loud music. But you will find top-notch Mexican home cooking at El Sabor de Los Mochis.
Don’t miss chef-owner Bertha Núñez’s terrific smoked marlin tacos and quesadillas. You’ll find marlin tacos on a lot of marisqueria menus around town, but few are quite as good as this version: the thick, sturdy taco is stuffed with the smokey, shredded tuna-like fish, lavished with melted cheese, and then beautifully crisped up on the griddle. Bertha’s seafood tostadas are also notably fresh and flavorful. If you’re craving a hot dish, don’t miss chef Núñez’s wonderfully spicy shrimp al chiltepin — grilled shrimp swimming in a sweet-spicy homemade chiltepin tomato sauce.
Sr. Ozzy’s Tacos y Mariscos
1717 West Southern Avenue, #100
This small, south Phoenix strip mall taco and mariscos joint serves modern mariscos with a twist. At Sr. Ozzy’s Tacos y Mariscos, don’t miss the crispy, beer-battered shrimp tacos, buoyed by a glossy heap of crema and a pineapple-studded fresh pico. Aguachile especial, a tangy, spicy pastiche of buttery abalone and shrimp cooked in fresh lime, is delightful.
Cool down with the restaurant’s refreshing torre mixta, or seafood tower. Of course, try the cevichelada, a playful, nonalcoholic mashup that marries lime-cured fish with the sort of sweet-salty accoutrement that would normally garnish a wacky michelada cocktail. It’s the kind of cooling, portable dish made for a hot Phoenix summer.