Bluewater Grill has been a Phoenix staple since 2009. But as with many staples, there is always room for updates, expansion and culinary evolution. In June, the sustainable seafood restaurant moved from its original location on Camelback Road (impossible to miss when driving south on the 51 thanks to its glowing lights) to a new 8,000-sq.-ft. home just a mile away in Central Phoenix.
The move allowed the venue to create 25-seat sushi space outside of the main dining area and expansive main bar (each of which we will get to soon enough). The sushi bar, where guests can watch three Master sushi chefs working in real time, feels like a secret restaurant-within-the-restaurant for those in the know. If in the mood strictly for nigiri, sashimi, hand rolls and cut rolls with a side of entertainment, opt for a reservation at this bar. The nigiri and sashimi offerings are ultra-fresh – each selected by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Program as Best Choices or Good Alternatives or approved by other certifying organizations – with the Unagi (freshwater eel), Maguro (tuna) and Hotate (scallops) especially of note. In addition to the fully raw options, there are nearly a dozen specialty sushi rolls on the menu at any given time in addition to specials that run the gamut from baked green mussels to hamachi kama, which is the most luscious and fattiest part of the yellowtail.
Both the sushi bar and main menus are available in both the dining room and cocktail bar. If seeking a combination of sushi, seafood and maybe even a little “turf” to go with all that surf, consider sitting in one of these spaces, each of which is wholly re-imagined from the prior location. The cocktail bar, which seats 70, and dining room, which seats 190, are meant to evoke a desert-inspired interpretation of the ocean. Both are filled with a combination of neutral colors to represent a desert palate yet accessorized with marine artwork and sea-life photography.
Christopher Smith leads the main kitchen as the newly named executive chef. The classically trained Johnson & Wales University graduate previously managed the kitchens at Firebirds Wood Fired Grill in Chandler and State 48 Funk House in Glendale and trained under Bluewater Grill chefs for several months prior to the opening to learn the brand’s proprietary and responsible method of seafood and shellfish preparation. The main menu boasts 30 to 40 varieties of fish depending on the season and is one of the few restaurants in Arizona to operate its own fishing boat in the Pacific Ocean.
The menu reads like an encyclopedia of seafood. Standouts include the baked crab and artichoke dip topped with grated Romano cheese and served with corn tortilla chips; mussels with Spanish chorizo paired with tomatoes, garlic and a hearty white wine sauce; tuna tartare served on crispy rice with spicy aioli and red tobiko; the San Francisco cioppino in a rich marinara sauce and overflowing with clams, mussels, shrimp and scallops; Maryland crab cakes with remoulade and scallion oil; the gemelli pasta with shrimp and scallops that is in a dreamy pesto cream sauce with oyster mushroom and cooked asparagus; and the Bluewater Surf and Turf, which features a Brazilian lobster tail and filet mignon and is served with scalloped potatoes and grilled broccolini. If possible (and it will be tough), save some room for dessert, especially the key lime pie.
Bluewater Grill Phoenix partners with Firestone Walker Brewery and several California wineries to offer dedicated tasting and pairing events as well as a monthly Second Tuesday Tasting series. The restaurant also offers a no-corkage fee for the first two bottles of wine. Within its own menu, Bluewater has wine by the bottle and traditional six-oz. pours of wine, but also nine-oz. pours for those who are in the mood. There are more than 20 beers and nine signature cocktails available as well. Expect a combination of traditional offerings such as margaritas and gin and tonics as well as more adventurous options including an apple pie-infused Old Fashioned and elevated Bloody Mary complete with a bamboo skewer.
Bluewater Grill Phoenix is open Tuesday through Sunday at 11 a.m., closing at 9 p.m. on weekdays and Sunday and at 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. It is not open on Mondays. Happy hour, which features discounts on both food and drink, is offered weekdays from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. and on the weekends from noon to 5 p.m.
To learn more about Bluewater Grill Phoenix, visit bluewatergrill.com.
1525 E. Bethany Home Rd.