There are two real restaurant hotspots for cebiche (or ceviche) in Lima: in the coastal suburb of Chorrillos south of Barranco and along Avenida La Mar in Miraflores. Avenida La Mar is the more upscale of the two and the only one where big name chefs operate restaurants. What’s bizarre about this set up is that there is little that is attractive about the street itself. There’s no ocean view or charming shops. What you’ll find are plenty of auto repair shops and minimally appealing apartment complexes. The cebicherias, beginning with La Red decades ago, have just sort of popped up here, most of them within the past five years. While most are open in the evenings as well and also serve non-seafood dishes, prime time for a visit is at midday for lunch, especially on the weekends.
The oldest cebicheria on this street has expanded and cleaned up a bit since its opening. It’s not as swanky as La Mar, but it’s not unattractive by any means. Rocoto Relleno, Tacu Tacu, Arroz con Mariscos, cebiche, tiradito, Pulpo a la Parrilla, and quite a few criollo dishes. Everything is of fine quality and dishes come out exactly how you would expect they would. You won’t find a Thai variation here. The bar pours Chicha Sour and a handful of other interesting variations of the pisco sour.
Av La Mar 391, Tel: 441-1026, www.lared.com.pe
Gastón Acurio’s 2nd Lima restaurant, the one that has had the most impact around the world now that it can be found as far away as San Francisco and Mexico City. Dishes range from traditional criollo, Asian fusion, chupes, arroces, and a generous selection of ceviches and tiraditos. The cocktail list combines pisco with native fruits. The lunchtime scene gets rather crowded for food that probably won’t blow you away, though it is a good place to start as an introduction to the avenue.
La Mar 770, Tel: 421-3365, www.lamarcebicheria.com.
Rodrigo Conroy, whose Rodrigo is considered on of Lima’s top fine dining restaurants, heads this one room cebicheria towards the San Isidro end of the avenue. To, start, I recommend their latest causa – which is wrapped in plantains, stuffed with bacon, and topped with tuna and yauco – won 2nd place Causa from the Mistura food festival held in September 2009. It’s on the menu as a special now, but it should be a regular by the time you’re reading this. The Black Conch Ceviche is superb here, as are the Tacu-Tacus, and just about anything else. Personally, this is my favorite cebicheria on Avenida La Mar.
Av. La Mar 1209, Tel: 440-1978.
A play on the name Pecados Capitales (Capital Sins), Pescado Capitales (Capital Fish…not as clever in English) is one of the most respected cebicherias in Lima. The menu is organized by sins: Greed, Gluttony, Vain, Ire, Envy, etc. The menu is massive and you can expect to find almost any seafood recipe from Peru’s central coast to appear in some form or another. Some consider it the best in Lima and it’s definitely up there. For a weekend lunch, especially when the sun peaks through the garúa, the indoor/outdoor setting becomes magical.
La Mar 1337, Tel: 421-8808, www.pescados-capitales.com
Another long time favorite. Try their Uñas de Cangrejo Rellenas de Langostinos, crab claws stuffed with prawns that are then breaded and fried. Their Mariscuyá is served in single bite spoons, passionfruit and lime marinate raw seafood such as conch for an aphrodisiacal way to start a meal. Other specialties include Risotto de Lomo Saltado and Chita al Ajo, though they have a standad list of ceviches, tiraditos, grilled fish with various sauces. Attractive setting.
Calle Gral. Mendiburú 793(near La Mar), Tel: 222-3992, www.caplina.com
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.