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.
Eating at someone else’s house usually means overcooked yams, reedy string beans, and tedious games of red rover. Today’s Groupon invites you over to someone’s house for good food and no tedious games of red rover. For $25, you’ll get $50 worth of colorful cuisine at Eddie’s House, a delicious dwelling inhabited by local celebrity chef Eddie Matney. Phoenix Magazine’s Number One Chef in the Valley rolls out his signature Mediterranean-influenced New American fare in a new namesake spot.Think: Your eyes reveal that this meal is the highlight of your day. I feel pity for you. Say: You guys look like you need some nacho poppers. They go great with our cheesy-chicken skewers!
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.
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.