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Aug 13, 2009 12:52 PM

Best place to buy seafood in Phoenix

I'm depressed. I just got back from Pike Place Market in Seattle and have serious seafood envy.

I'm not going to ask if there's a market like that here because I know better, but where is the best place to buy seafood? I usually go to the Whole Foods on Mayo and have been happy with the quality but I can't help but wonder if there's anything better out there.

I've also been to Lee Lee's but I wonder about the freshness.

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  1. bump...we're wondering the same thing. Usually go to whole foods on mayo and it's SOOOOOOOO outrageously priced compared to other cities.

    4 Replies
    1. re: dombey

      I have had great luck @ the Mekong Plaza in Mesa. It is one of the few markets that has fresh mackerel. I have also had good luck w/ their clams. They have a wonderful selection.
      66 S Dobson Rd
      Mesa, AZ 85209

      (480) 363-9009

      1. re: ciaogal

        Oooh I've been meaning to try Mekong Plaza.Thanks for the reminder.

        1. re: KristiB50

          A number of the farmer's market also have vendors who carry fish caught in Alaska. Kenny the Fish Hugger is at some of them and I got some Halibut cheeks and Rockfish from a vendor at Road Runner Park over the weekend. He had halibut, king salmon and a number of other selections as well.

        2. re: ciaogal

          Mekong Plaza is great, and you also have Lee Lee's a few miles farther south on Dobson, and you also have the Super L Ranch Market in the Chinese Cultural Center on N. 44th St. in Phoenix, all great places for fresh seafood in the desert.

      2. I did a killer seafood paella a couple of years ago in the Valley and sourced lots of frozen squid, scallaps etc at the Ranch Market. Seafood is hard to find in the desert, but it is the desert and not the beach.

        1. Bump.

          "Seafood is hard to find in the desert..."

          Tell that to Nobuo Fukuda.

          Even in most coastal locations, it isn't as though all of the seafood markets' stuff is being locally sourced. The Alaskan salmon doesn't care whether it's being flown to New York or Omaha. Seafood in the desert shouldn't be a matter of availability, but one of price.

          Realizing that we're not going to have Tsukiji here, I'm a little surprised there aren't a couple of well-respected retail outfits that are stocking great seafood, even if at inflated prices. Is the best the town has to offer really limited to seafood counters at Whole Foods and a few Asian markets? No little independent shops that specialize in seafood and do a good job of it?

          2 Replies
          1. re: Dmnkly

            "Is the best the town has to offer really limited to seafood counters at Whole Foods and a few Asian markets?"

            Pretty much. The independent meat shops here are few (and literally) far between. And independent seafood markets? I can't think of one.

            I should note that when I go to the Bay Area for work, my independent seafood options are pretty much limited to two shops in north Berkeley and some mom-and-pop grocery stores in Oakland Chinatown. Beyond that, my options are meat counters at WFM, Berkeley Bowl, supermarkets targeting Asian and/or Hispanic clienteles, and the limited selections offered by a few independent meat shops.

            I agree that given modern transportation and technology, geography shouldn't be as much of an issue as it was in the past. Expectations regarding the price of food and the foodways of the local populace, however, are likely very relevant to what you can or cannot find at stores in any community, not just in Phx metro. I'm guessing we'll be stuck with our current options until we see critical mass of home cooks who are willing to pay upwards of $20/lb for seafood on a regular basis.

            1. re: hohokam

              No, that's very true... no matter how feasible a high-quality independent seafood shop might be, it isn't viable if the shopping culture isn't there to support it. And while, as you say, the butchers are few and far between, the niche was at least filled, if seemingly underserviced (though I'm anxious to check out the options that are out there, and there's a horde of carnicerias that I bet include some good spots). I was just flabbergasted that in a town of this size, nobody seemed to be able to point to a seafood storefront that was worthwhile, point simply being that the idea that we're constrained by geography, while especially poetic in the middle of the desert, doesn't really hold... um... water.

              Not to knock the WF and Asian market seafood counters. Like others upthread, I've had great luck with them (elsewhere) in the past and expect to continue doing so. It's just nice to build a relationship with a place that's dedicated to seafood. Here's hoping there's some gem out there waiting to be unearthed.

          2. I've looked at seafood in several WF's here in the Phoenix area and didn't feel it looked that great. My best luck with fresh seafood has been AJ's. Phoenix Ranch Market is a good source for some items and both Ranch 99 (Chinese Cultural Center) and Lee Lee Asian Market (Warner Road in Chandler) usually have good selections and a number of live options.

            5 Replies
            1. re: Phoenix99

              AJ's has been a huge disappointment for me over the years. I've given up on cooking a lot of seafood at home. I don't have issues going out to get it.

              1. re: danieli10

                what about the folks at the various farmer's markets that are selling Alaskan caught fish? The one I know best is Kenny the Fish Hugger but the quality is generally pretty good. Its not fresh but I think its one of the better options out there.

                1. re: avandelay

                  The farmer's markets seem to be good places to find frozen wild caught finned fish (primarily salmon and halibut, in my experience), but not so good if one is looking for items like crab, lobster, or shellfish.

                2. re: danieli10

                  I wonder if it's specific to individual AJ"s? I visit the one in Chandler and have never been disappointed with what I purchased. Now, admitedly I don't buy seafood every time but if I see something that looks good and fresh I'm all over it.

                  1. re: Poerz

                    I think there is something to that... specific locations are better than others.

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