December 10th, 2014 at 12:00 pm

Author: Amy Finley
Photo: Mance Creative
Information provided by: Riviera San Diego

One can only feast on Thanksgiving leftovers for so long. In the days to come, when the turkey’s lost its luster, the stuffing’s gone stale and even pie no longer tempts, brighten up with one of S.D.’s favorite palate cleansers—ceviche. Where? Read on…

San Diego

  1. Chef Jaime Chavez hails from Chile and brings a South American sensibility to the dishes he crafts at Sirena, the newest offering in Little Italy. El Peruano is the globetrotting chef’s spin on Peruvian ceviche, and it’s a gorgeous, colorful rendition loaded with plump morsels of fresh fish in uni leche de tigre. That briny base packs a wallop thanks to spicy amarillo chiles (they’re Peruvian, not Texan), but cubes of refreshingly cool sweet potato take the edge off while cancha—toasted Andean corn—adds crunch. Welcome to your new obsession.
  2. In the heart of the Gaslamp, Don Chidocranks up the heat on a custom-designed Santa Maria woodfire grill (yes, you want to try the carne asada skirt steak), but chills out with a straight-ahead ceviche that is all about impeccable locally-sourced seafood. White fish from Catalina Offshore is “cooked” in lime and paired with red onion, jalapeno, serranos, red bell pepper, cilantro and mango. Don’t fear the addition of that tropical fruit: chef Antonio Friscia deftly sidesteps its cloying idiosyncrasies, judiciously using the mango instead to coax out the sweetness in the delicate fish. Not sold? Thursday through the weekend you can choose your own adventure at the ceviche bar.
  3. Chef-about-town Chad White put down roots at Común Kitchen and Tavern, a new hotspot in the East Village. There, the burly iconoclast, who spends nearly as much time on the southern side of S.D.’s international border as he does on his home turf, regales with Baja-Med dishes that will have you saying goodbye to your taco shop days. Ceviche tops a “toastada,” the farm-raised limon-marinated hiramasa (Baja yellowtail) finding a counterpoint in creamy avocado, while tomato, cilantro, red onion and jalapeno round out the classic dish interpretation. Try one. Or three.
  4. We happily queued up for the house ceviche at La Jolla’s El Pescadoreven when our chances for a table in the pocketsize fish market were slim. Now that this Pearl Street icon has moved into its larger digs just across the street, we happily line up for the market’s fresh spin on our favorite Mexican dish, dining in (we like the couch seating) or ordering a to-go portion for an al fresco feast at nearby Windansea beach. Warning: this version’s got kick. Best enjoy it with a ice cold cerveza.
  5. And finally, we first discovered the pleasures of ceviche many moons ago at the Old Town Mexican Café. Repeated (and repeated, and repeated…) visits over the years have never failed to disappoint. The acidulated white fish is toothsome and never mushy, and it’s the star of the dish, balanced but not overwhelmed by a bracing mix of tomatoes, red onion, cilantro and jalapeno. Tuck this tangy treasure into one of the hot, fresh flour tortillas made on-site and swoon. You, too, will be back.


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