Reinventing classic, Mexican seafood dishes is a craft Los Arbolitos de Cajeme has mastered over its 31 years in operation. With dishes like Camarón Sonora — shrimp sauteed in pico de gallo chile and a Sonora house cream; and Pulpo a Las Brasas — grilled, seasoned octopus — the Mexican chain out of Sonora has made a name for itself throughout Mexico.
It recently opened its first U.S. location in Phoenix.
The new location, at 3508 W. Peoria Avenue, is the chain’s 21st restaurant among others in cities like Chihuahua, Guadalajara and Mexico City. But Eduardo Dominguez, the Phoenix manager, said business took off in a municipality in Ciudad Obregón, Sonora, called Cajeme.
“Coming from an impoverished family and out of necessity, our director started selling seafood on a tricycle at the age of 14,” Dominguez said about Juan Diego Cota Cota, Los Arbolitos de Cajeme’s owner.
And in 1988, Cota Cota started selling out of a restaurant under “tres arbolitos,” or three small trees. Today, the original location and the trees remain, Dominguez said.
Expanding to the United States was a lifelong dream for Cota Cota, and because of its proximity and existing relationships Dominguez said coming to Arizona was the best option.
“It is Sonora’s neighboring state. We have our roots nearby. But more than anything, the business relationships that exist with people here in Arizona.”
Dominguez said the restaurant’s grand opening, which took place in late June, was highly anticipated by the community.
“They have received us well. The community has taken us in these last two months,” he said. “They were waiting for us.”
On top of its twist-on-traditional cuisine, like its deviled shrimp, grilled fish and fried crab claws, Los Arbolitos de Cajeme is also praised for exceptional customer service.
“We live by the theory of giving the client personal treatment. Not service where you take their orders and that’s it. We offer food suggestions and make ourselves available. If they look up or around, we ask if they need assistance. More than anything: attention, the service, being there,” Dominguez said.
Dominguez, who has been with the company for 16 years, said once the Phoenix restaurant reaches the success they hope to see, they plan on opening a location in Mesa. Spanning into other American states is a possibility, too, he said. “With this restaurant, we’ve realized nothing is impossible. All it takes is getting there and making it work with your effort,” Dominguez said.
“We’re people, like many others who come from far away, that are here looking for a dream and hoping to find it. We hope it goes well for us.”
Los Arbolitos de Cajeme is open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. For more information, visit Los Arbolitos de Cajeme Phoenix Az on Facebook.