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.
If you live in Phoenix and want a taste of the ocean, you have two options: drive west on I-10 until you reach the Pacific coast, or pay a visit to The Salt Cellar Restaurant in nearby Scottsdale. The latter option has proven wildly popular since 1971, when locals got their first taste of The Salt Cellar’s pan-fried oysters, charcoal-broiled sea scallops, and crabmeat-stuffed shrimp. The restaurant’s popularity has endured thanks to chef Kurt Theleman’s commitment to sourcing his seafood from wherever he can—Hawaii, Alaska, Georges Bank, and even New Zealand. Though much of the fresh seafood is seasonal, guests can always count on a selection of whole Maine lobsters, the largest of which weigh in at a whopping 5 pounds. If all this talk of the ocean makes you thirsty, sidle up to the polished hardwood bar to order a drink and regale your bartender with a favorite sea shanty. The restaurant's unique location––it's snuggly tucked below street level––also make it a cozy place to escape for happy hour, which happens twice daily from 4 p.m.–7 p.m. and again from 10 p.m.–1 a.m.
One wouldn’t expect to find so much as a puddle in the midst of the Sonoran Desert, but Wildfish Seafood Grille delivers much more: a veritable ocean of seafood dishes hailing from both coasts. An uncommon attention to detail is apparent in nearly every aspect of the restaurant, from the massive, electric-blue fin that drapes over one end of the bar to the appetizer-course shellfish towers that brim with succulent morsels of Maine lobster, shrimp, oysters, and jumbo lump crab. The rest of the menu makes the most of fresh catches, offering up everything from kung pao-style crispy cashew calamari to a whole market-fresh fish, simply dressed with lemon, olive oil, and a sprinkle of sea salt. But though the focus is on the fish, the chefs here have a few surprises up their sleeves. Their kitchen is also stocked with a prime selection of premium Black Angus steaks, which are aged 28 days and broiled to the standard of a gourmet steakhouse. And, as if the scent wasn't intoxicating enough, an exhibition kitchen puts the chefs on full display as they slice sashimi, stuff tacos with Maine lobster, and wrestle krakens into pots of boiling water.
It’s not everyday that, what can only be described as a hole-in-the-wall eatery, makes it onto the pages of Gourmet magazine. Yet in 2003, Mariscos Playa Hermosa did just that, landing in the mag’s Restaurants We Love edition for its fresh and authentic Mexican seafood. A spot in the national limelight is likely more than owners Jose and Maria Maldonado had in mind when they first left their small colonial town in Mexico. The couple came to the States hoping to introduce customers to the tastes of Sinaloan-style Mexican food; Jose's cooking skills, matched with Maria's hosting abilities, turned out to be a formula for success. The fresh seafood helps too, 70% of which comes from the Pacific, and 30% from the Gulf. Made-to-order items such as Seven Seas soup, garlicky octopus, crab enchiladas, and ceviche populate the menu, each laced with unique flavors from Sinaloa, Veracruz, and Guanajuato, Mexico.
Donovan’s Steak and Chop House isn't out to rewrite the book on fine dining—it just tries to make sure that book is printed in the most elegant cursive possible. The restaurant largely succeeds, thanks to a few simple things it refuses to compromise on. Take, for example, the fact that Donovan’s exclusively serves USDA Prime steaks straight from the Midwest. Each and every rib eye or new york strip is wet-aged and flash-seared at 1,600 degrees to seal in the juices and leave the meat tantalizingly tender. And while beef might be the main event, Donovan’s doesn’t skimp on its non-steak menu, either, serving market-fresh Australian coldwater rock lobster and Alaskan king crab legs in a chilled seafood tower that guests can topple with their choice of a fork or trident.