Instead of frittering away quarters at the arcade like most boys his age, Dean Laplant began learning his trade at age 13 by working the grill at his parents' steak house. He went on to open his own steak house in Wisconsin at the young age of 28, and later moved to Chandler to start DC Steak House, where he channels his years of experience into effortlessly preparing a menu of fine steaks, seafood, and chops.
Dean's wife, Lori, adorned the dining-room walls of DC Steak House's 100-year-old building in vivid murals that depict the local area's rich history. These elegant murals, along with soft hanging lights and white tablecloths, create a dining atmosphere more comfortable than a sofa stuffed with cotton candy. Patrons exit the restaurant into Chandler's bustling downtown square filled with shops and home to a variety of seasonal festivals.
The chefs at Baja Joe's Mexican Cantina prepare seafood in the style of Sinaloa, a region of northwestern Mexico that flanks the Pacific Ocean. That coastal influence is especially evident in dishes such as the campechana especial—a medley of scallops, oysters, octopus, and shrimp served inside of a coconut shell—or whole red snapper, cooked with white wine, olives, and bay leaves and served by Poseidon at the end of a trident. Chefs also grill traditional Mexican combinations of carnitas, steak, and chicken, in addition to preparing veggie dishes. The cantina's 1,200-square-foot patio makes an ideal setting to sip a specialty margarita, such as the La Pinta, mixed with pomegranate-infused tequila, while their newly expanded 2,600-square-foot sports cantina boasts eleven flat-screen televisions, pool tables, darts, music, live music and karaoke nights, and more.
Pelican Bay Oyster Bar shrugs off its landlocked setting with an extensive seafaring menu. Land a lunch of charbroiled Cajun salmon ($13.95) or sample the shrimp and crab delight, which joins its loving marine proteins in sautéed matrimony with mushrooms, green onions, basil, wine, and linguine ($12.95). Dinner diners can bet hunger pangs on the clams casino, an appetizer that turns in a guaranteed jackpot of baked clams, bacon, and bread crumbs ($12.95). Pasta plates run the gamut from seafood fettuccine ($15.95) to shrimp scampi ($13.95), and the grill lets culinary adventurers reel in oceanic treasures such as swordfish, halibut, lobster, and snorkeling steaks. Pelican Bay harbors diverse wine and cocktail options to pair with fishy tastings and bait guests's minds with captivating tales of the dinner that got away.
Specializing in modern island fare, Hula's brunch menu fuses Polynesian and Hawaiian dishes with worldly and supernatural influences. Recover faster than an action star after a boat explosion with Hula's hangover hash (two eggs stacked on a heaping helping of Luau pork hash over a bed of hash browns, $9). The ahi-tuna eggs benedict is a classy twist on a classic ($12), and the two-egg breakfast injects two shots of tradition into morning stomachs ($7). Purveyors of lunch need look no further than the Maui onion-smothered Hula burger ($8), shrimp tacos ($8–$14), or mango-chicken salad ($13). Add a side of fried Spam ($2.50) to show the world you haven't forgotten this beloved piece of Americana.
For 40 years, The Salt Cellar Restaurant, championed by restaurant reviewer Gayot, has flown in fresh, seasonal fish and seafood daily from destinations including Hawaii, New Zealand, and the Gulf of Mexico. The restaurant's signature entree, shrimp San Remo, beaches shrimp on a bed of pasta decorated with artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, portobello mushrooms, and faux shark fins to scare off encroaching surfers ($31). Whole, live Maine lobsters contribute to a variety of crackable entrees, including the baked stuffed lobster brimming with a special blend of scallops and crab meat ($42). The Salt Cellar completes the maritime menu with seasonal starters, including the platter of calamari skewers with Thai dipping sauce ($10), as well as soups, scallops, and broiled fish options.