Review | Little Cleo’s: A Hidden Seafood Gem in Uptown Phoenix
When people think about Phoenix cuisine, seafood is not the first thing that comes to mind although there are a lot of great seafood restaurants in the Valley. One of my favorite restaurants in Phoenix is Little Cleo’s Seafood Legend. Like North Italia, another one of my favorite Phoenix restaurants, Little Cleo’s is part of the Fox Restaurant Concepts empire. The staff at Little Cleo’s is extremely friendly and knowledgeable, the food is thoughtful and delicious, and the atmosphere is extremely enjoyable.
Little Cleo’s is tucked inside of The Yard on 7th Street south of Bethany Home Road, which is also home to Fox-owned Culinary Dropout, a lively spot for delicious food, live music and games When you drive up to the complimentary valet at The Yard, you might not know that Little Cleo’s is there except for a small sign. To get to Little Cleo’s, you enter The Yard and step to the right into a separate restaurant with a totally different vibe.
Besides the incredibly fresh seafood and excellent service, the appeal of Little Cleo’s is the intimate setting and the open kitchen. Although there are tables inside and outside, I prefer to sit at the counter where you can watch the chefs grill bread, peel potatoes, shuck oysters and prepare a variety of fresh seafood meals from fish tacos to lobster rolls. I call it “dinner and a show.” The restaurant has seafood delivered daily, including a variety of East and West Coast oysters, shrimp, lobster, crab, mussels and several types of fish.
Like the Bolognese at North, I have my go-to dishes at Little Cleo’s. I cannot go to Little Cleo’s without having the rich, succulent warm jar of king crab swimming in butter served with grilled crunchy Noble bread.
I often start my meal with sweet corn hush puppies served with remoulade.
My companion never strays from the smoky New England style clam chowder and the fresh shrimp cocktail. Crispy frog legs are another favorite small plate. Popular large plates include fish and chips, bouillabaisse and the lobster roll.
Dessert offerings include seasonal selections of ice cream and sorbet, sticky toffee pudding and pecan pie served with salted butter ice cream. The drink menu includes beer, wine, funky cocktails and several varieties of absinthe, a distilled, highly alcoholic, anise-flavored spirit.
Little Cleo’s offers happy hour Monday through Saturday from 4 to 5pm featuring $1 oysters, $1 shrimp and $2 champagne.
Whenever I go to Little Cleo’s I sit at the counter for hours asking all kinds of questions that the staff are happy to answer. While I want to make sure seafood lovers know about this hidden gem, I don’t want the counter to get too crowded.
Little Cleo’s Seafood Legend | 5632 N. 7th St. | Phoenix | 85014 | 602.680.4044
Favorite items | clam chowder ($9), sweet corn hush puppies ($5), shrimp cocktail ($14), warm jar of king crab ($21)