Seafood in the Desert: A Love Story

Skyline of downtown Phoenix over the Skyline of Seattle. Surprisingly, seafood dishes on par with Seattle’s can also be found in the desert

Being what my mom likes to describe as a “poor and starving college student,” fancy meals are few and far between and soup, whether made in the crockpot or coming out of a can, is always on my menu.

In fact, I’ve eaten so much soup that I don’t like soup anymore. It either reminds me of being broke or reminds me of being sick and there really is no grey area with those options.

However, there is one soup that stands above all. This soup is a recent discovery at one of my favorite restaurant and this is a soup I would gladly eat for three meals a day for the rest of my life. But before I talk about this soup, I must talk about steak.

Twice a year, my better half Nicolas and I will dress up — him in a blue and white checkered button up and myself in a red dress — and empty our savings account on a nice steak dinner. Once on Valentine’s Day to mark the day we met and another on October 19th to mark the day where we became “official,” for lack of a better word.

We love steak. More than anything. Almost more than we love one another, and definitely more than soup.

But on one of our most beloved date nights, we ordered a soup that, in flavor, far out-shined any meal I have ever eaten. On the night where we have high expectations to be wowed by seafood and beef, we couldn’t stop talking about this soup.

We decided to go to House of Tricks in Tempe, a quaint East-Coast style home that had been transformed into an elegant yet down-to-earth dining destination. Nicolas and I had studied the menu prior to our visit more intensely than we had studied anything school-related that week. We had settled on ahi tuna and an herb butter ribeye steak for the main course and the rest we would decide upon at the restaurant.

Upon arrival, we ordered a bottle of cabernet and asked the waitress to bring whatever beginner dish she enjoyed the most. She brought out clam chowder. Not just any clam chowder, southwest clam chowder.

A bowl of delicious Southwest-style chowder

Let me tell you, I dream about this clam chowder. This says a lot because I come from Washington state…home of the clam chowder, home of seafood and I believe that no one else should even attempt clam chowder, let alone someone in Arizona…the desert state…which lies uncomfortably far from any ocean to be eating seafood.

This was incredible. It was a large portion of comforting, warm, spicy clam chowder. We ordered another bowl in place of our steak and ahi tuna…just eating a poor man’s meal in my red dress and his button up. And we ordered another to go. If you eat any soup…eat the southwest clam chowder from House of Tricks.