100 E Camelback Road, #172 Phoenix • chulaseafood.com
We all know that one of the reasons Arizonans love where we live is because of the weather, especially in the spring months when it’s not too hot, not too cold, but just right. The sun shines and we’ve given in to shorts and tank tops in the afternoon. It was on one of these days that I happened upon Chula Seafood; a seafood lover’s nirvana, situated comfortably at Uptown Plaza on Camelback Road.
Chula Seafood can be described as fast-casual dining. When I walked in, the first thing I noticed was the open dining area. There is plenty of seating, but it’s not the type that would make you feel crowded when the room is completely full. I headed up to the counter, which is where you order your meal – the menu is posted on a digital board above a serving window. Next to the counter is a refrigerator case where guests can purchase seafood to take home. Massive shrimp, scallops, swordfish skewers, ahi tuna and more can be bought by the pound.
The Uptown location is the second in Arizona for Chula Seafood. They originated in San Diego in 2009 with Jim Heflin and his family. The name, Chula, comes from the fishing vessel that the Heflins use to catch (and harpoon) fresh fish off the Pacific coast. Chula Seafood made its way to Arizona in 2015, with their first location in South Scottsdale off of Hayden Road.
Once I ordered, I was given a number and took a seat near the open windows – free to people watch while I waited for my lunch. I started off with the smoked fish platter, though the sashimi platter was also tempting. The smoked fish platter comes with chef’s choice – I opted for salmon and salmon belly (also known as “Kyle’s Candy”) – jalapeno jelly, deviled egg mousse, and assorted pickled veggies. I also tried the tuna tartare with shrimp chips, which reminded me of flavored rice paper chips, and held the tuna tartare well, if I might add – no “broken tortilla chip in the guac” scenario here.
For lunch, Chula Seafood offers bowls, a la carte fish dishes, sandwiches and standard seafood dishes like fish and chips. The Chula po’boy was stuffed full with calamari, peperonata and aioli on a Noble baguette. The swordfish tacos had a generous helping of fish.
Chula offers sides such as Moroccan carrot salad, papaya slaw, french fries or Spam mac salad. The Spam mac has a “wonder mustard” that gives the salad a bacon-flavored zesty kick.
There is also a kid’s menu at Chula, with non-seafood items like a cheeseburger or grilled cheese. On the beverage side of things, Chula offers drinks such as the basil-mint limeade, Mexican coke or cold brew coffee. There’s also craft brews and wine on deck, if you feel like rockin’ the boat a little.