Ceviche, as it is taking off in Colombia, combines elements of both Peruvian and general Latin American preparations. In general, it is closer in resemblance to Peruvian ceviche with large chunks of fish flesh as opposed to finely diced pieces of fish. Flavors tend to represent the entire region though and are considerably more varied than in Peru. In Bogota, one of the best outlets is 80 Sillas in Usaquen in the north of the city. The design of the restaurant is modern and sleek with a long bar and several dining areas on staggered levels. It looks like a high-end sushi bar (though the prices are very reasonable), which if ceviche is going to go to a mainstream audience I think is a wise move.
The one page menu is divided into two parts: seafood on one side and meats on the other. The meat side has a mix up of pastas, steaks, and the typical heartier Colombian and international dishes, but I was more interested on what was going on the seafood side. This part of the menu has two main parts: ceviche and other seafood. The ceviches at 80 Sillas come in two sizes: glass (10,000 pesos) or bowl (14,000 pesos). Both are served in glass and even the bowl is not overly large. You choose your seafood: pescado (fish), camarones (shrimp), calamar (squid), pulpo (octopus), and mixto (mixed). Then you choose your style. I went with ginger, which mixed slivers of ginger, cilantro, and mango biche with my choice of pescado. It’s rare to find variations like this in Peru and the result was interesting. It was light, refreshing, and maybe there was a little too much mango biche and not enough fish, but it left me hungry and my palate clean for my second dish. Other intriguing combinations are Rocoto and Jalapeño, Pico de Gallo, Thai, and about ten others.
The second course/other dishes are not overly large either, rather the menu is designed so they and ceviche complement each other. While Pulpo a la Brasa (braised octopus) is one of my favorite dishes of all time, they had tiradito (a Nikkei twist on ceviche from Peru) on the menu, as well as tartare, I went with the fish cakes. There were four served on a small rectangular plate and each was about half the size of a hockey puck. I couldn’t finish them and my fresh juice (oh yeah, they have a great juice bar) wasn’t enough to wash them down. While the fish cakes nor the ceviche blew me away, this is a restaurant I’ll return to on a regular basis whenever I’m in Bogota. I like to sample food and that goes double when local and regional ingredients are being used in new and creative ways.
FYI: They’ve added a second location in the Zona Rosa called Central Cevicheria.
Address: Calle 118 No. 7-09
Usaquen, Bogotá, Colombia
Writer and photographer Nicholas Gill is the editor/publisher of New World Review. He lives in Lima, Peru and Brooklyn, New York. His work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CondeNast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, Afar, and Penthouse. Visit his personal website (nicholas-gill.com) for more information.