Friday, Apr. 02, 2010

8. Ceviche

You must not leave Lima without stuffing your gullet with ceviche — raw fish, hot chili peppers and onions marinated in lime juice — the mouth-watering dish that is the star of Peru's culinary repertoire. The best place to get it is on Avenida La Mar in Miraflores. Many of the city's top cevicherias populate this tree- and bench-lined boulevard, and also serve lots of other succulent seafood dishes, which you'll want to tuck into after your ceviche starters.

It's not the first seafood joint to open on the street, but the namesake La Mar restaurant is the best known; in March 2010 it was rated Lima's top cevicheria by the local restaurant ranking guide Summum. Begin your meal with an order of leche de tigre ($6.50), which is simply ceviche broth. Then get things going with the ceviche sampler, which has five different kinds of fish and shellfish ($16). Next, move on to your main course: try the swordfish, which is caught on Peru's northern coast and prepared in various ways ($16).

La Mar is the seafood creation of chef and TV star Gastón Acurio, Peru's Paris-trained ambassador of food. Acurio, who owns a small empire of restaurants, including the flagship Astrid y Gastón (which is also worth a visit), is taking ceviche international with La Mar: franchises operate in Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Panama; there's also a La Mar in San Francisco, with another outpost scheduled to open in New York City in Summer 2010.