>> La Cevicheria | Eat the World LA

Sunday, 7 April 2019

La Cevicheria

GUATEMALA 🇬🇹

While Pico Boulevard is certainly no seaside community and the table outside gets a touch hot on most afternoons, somehow once the screen door of this 16 year old restaurant closes behind you it feels much closer to the ocean. The nautical themes and soft blue paint help, sure, but the feelings induced here are pure seafood shack and not unlike the modest places that dot the Pacific coastline of Central America visited many years ago.

In the ceviche spectrum of Los Angeles, Guatemala may not get its proper dues but that is only because it is overshadowed by some of its Mexican and Peruvian cousins and most of the 230,000+ folks come from more inland portions of the country. With no major coastal highway, the beaches and seaside towns are reached from a series of roads from the interior and feel secluded. If you want to relive past trips, or get a sense of what a future trip would feel like, come to Mid-City's La Cevicheria.

Knowing tastes and trends of the city before Angelenos did themselves, and not to mention the desires of the entire neighborhood and its laborers, the husband and wife team here have elected to put more options than those solely from their home country of Guatemala. But if we're being honest, the aguachiles might be better at everyone's favorite Nayarit seafood empire and the Peruvian ceviches bite sharper in the San Fernando Valley.


Full orders of ceviche are fairly large as you will see in a bit, so "compromising" with tostadas can be more manageably good deals and a fun mashup of Guatemalan and Mexican ceviche-eating styles. When the name of the restaurant is practically smacking you in the face to try as many as possible, this is the easiest route. Above are the tostada de pescado ($3, left) and tostada de camarón ($4, right), both excellent and topped with a couple wedges of avocado.

Deserving of a larger order is the ceviche de concha negra mixto ($17, below), always the source of most of what gets written about this place because of its English translation to "bloody clams." In Spanish this is "black shells or conches," so it makes sense that the resulting color is somewhere in between black and blood red, with slicks of both mixed in.


There are actually three levels of macho to order your bloody clams at, with this mixed ceviche being level three (ie: least macho). Mixed with both shrimp and octopus, the full brine and chewy texture of the clam itself is reduced. For $1 less you can experience them alone but still cut into small pieces, or as an appetizer the clams are available on the half shell for $15 to be enjoyed in all their glory.

No matter what, the taste of the sea is always there. Sometimes this can be a drag with seafood, but bloody clam brine seems magical and done perfectly. As you see above, packages of Saltines arrive with orders of ceviche, exactly as happened at those shacks in Guatemala.


More magic comes in the bowl of ceviche chapin ($12, above), which the menu shows including ten ingredients. Besides the seafood, the most instantly recognizable on your tongue are mint and Worcestershire sauce, that secret (British) ingredient of Guatemalan ceviches. The mixture consists of shrimp, octopus, and crab, the latter probably being imitation but at this price point it is hard to complain about that.

The smoother tastes and textures pair perfectly with concha negra, and leaving one out is firmly unrecommended.

When the kitchen has caught up with all their orders, do not be surprised if the male proprietor makes his way out to the dining room to ensure all his customers are taken care of and enjoying their meals. You can tell it is a passion. He also might recommend the (slightly) off-topic mariscada caribeña ($15, below), a soup from another ocean.


This coconut-based stew is sweet and slightly spicy and hits more of the favorites in terms of seafood ingredients. Get good chunks of white rice to soak it in or use it as a topping for mussels and squid.

While there does seem to be a BYOB policy in place, just as good with the seafood dishes is the homemade limeade ($2, not shown), refreshing and cold and not too sweet at all. This seems to be the choice of many of the workers that come in for lunch and you will be thankful to follow their lead.


🇬🇹🇬🇹🇬🇹

Z

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