Summer may be almost over, but that stubborn Southern California sun isn't going anywhere. For better or worse, Los Angeles is stuck with stunningly perfect weather, a perfect excuse to eat ceviche every day.
Ceviches are in the same category as tacos and sushi: foods that our city absolutely excels in, foods that keep evolving into better versions as Angelenos take them ever more seriously. But just like tacos and sushi, a great version is not as easy to find as you'd think. Any compromise on the quality of ceviche's three core ingredients — seafood, acid and salt — is glaringly noticeable.
Here is a list of the places around town that pay extra special attention to all of the elements that make up their ceviche.
What do you get when you bring together those same gorgeous sashimi cuts of seafood that you find in L.A.'s top sushi restaurants with a Mexican ceviche-centric perfectionist attitude? The pop-up Ceviche Project, that's what. Expect a multi-course ceviche feast that may include freshly scooped sweet raw lobster ceviche topped with a chile-spiced salsa bruja, vinegar-marinated shallot rings and edible flowers, or a slab of albacore belly with tangerine, pepitas and chile de arbol. Each course is usually paired with a different smooth tequila cocktail and the chef's hand-selected vintage cumbia vinyl jams.
Mariscos El Faro
This unassuming mariscos truck in Highland Park serves one of the best regional (Sinaloa) Mexican ceviches in town. It involves ridiculously thick cuts of bass that have been salt-cured for 24 hours until they have a similar texture to cold-smoked salmon and a peppery salsa negra made with tiny chiltepin peppers plus plenty of raw red onion and cucumber for crunch. The best part: The owner has special connections in the seafood industry that allow her to serve this beautiful wild fish preparation for only $5.
6113-6139 N. Figueroa St., Los Angeles, (213) 749-1147
Nayarit and Sinaloa are some of the most mariscos-intensive coastal states in Mexico. El Coraloense is a family-run establishment that blends these two humble regional Mexican seafood styles together but elevates them enough to keep it exciting to come here every day of the year and not get bored. Opt for the ceviche sampler to get a taste of things like shrimp and halibut marinated in spicy shredded carrot salsa and served with house-made aioli. To wash it down, take turns between bites sipping on a tall cup filled with naturally dairy-free coconut milk horchata made with young coconut meat.
6600 Florence Ave., Bell Gardens, (562) 776-8800
At Coni'Seafood, there are no trendy ingredients or cheffy tricks, just straight-up amazing ceviches made from three to four ingredients max. As with any ceviche, it's all about the quality of the seafood. The restaurant gets wild shrimp from the Pacific Ocean near Mazatlan, Sinaloa. Try out this nonpareil variety of Mexican shrimp in its tostadito ceviche; these magnificent shrimp are peeled, cleaned, chopped and mixed with chewy sea snail, crisp jicama and Mexican key lime juice on a tostada smeared with smoked marlin pate, a big fish similar to swordfish that the restaurant also gets from Mazatlan.
3544 W. Imperial Highway, Inglewood, (310) 672-2339, www.coniseafood-inglewood.com
Guerrilla Tacos usually has at least one ceviche tostada option on its daily rotating menu of fine-dining-on-a-tortilla-style tacos. Ceviches are treated the exact same way as are the prized tacos. Putting things like minced habanero and limes into Honolulu ahi poke with white miso and togarashi pepper, then serving that on a flaky tostada. And yes, sometimes there are ceviches made with uni. Also, when available, chocolata clams from Baja California, Mexico too — a meaty, chocolate-colored variety of clam that was just recently made available in the U.S.
826 E. 3rd St., Los Angeles, (818) 640-3033, www.guerrillatacos.com
Corazón y Miel
Ceviche's bright flavors and crisp textures share a lot of similarly bold flavor profiles with Southeast Asian food. Corazón y Miel realized this and blended these two cuisine characteristics together for its house ceviche de corazón, a heaping pile of tender sliced octopus and shrimp mixed with chopped cucumber in a pool of soy sauce and ginger. As if this fusion weren't enough, there are charred peanuts and buttery ripe avocado in the mix too. Pair with one of the lighter local craft beers available at the full bar and you are set for a memorable modern ceviche experience.
6626 Atlantic Ave., Bell, (323) 560-1776, www.corazonymiel.com
Though Mexican and Peruvian ceviches reign supreme in Los Angeles, La Cevicheria holds its own with its Guatemalan interpretation of the staple South American seafood dish found virtually anywhere there is a coastline. The restaurant's namesake chapin-style preparation is its ceviche made with ultra-briny bloody clams. Though the name and muddy brown color of the cooking liquid may look a little scary, its oyster-like texture and truly oceanic taste are worth trying. Especially when spooned atop La Cevicheria's stone-ground corn tostadas from Tortilleria Acapulco, one of East L.A.'s best tortillerias.
3809 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 732-1253
Misky Misky is an ambitious newcomer to the L.A. Peruvian ceviche game, located in the suburban city of West Covina deep in the outskirts of the San Gabriel Valley. The menu boasts an impressive selection of eight Peruvian ceviche preparations, all of which rely only on fresh halibut, sea bass and yellowtail with various fruity Peruvian aji pepper sauces as their bases. Splurge on the $25 ceviche Misky Misky sampler plate, which includes traditional ceviche de pescado with aji limo, ceviche de mango with Peruvian mango purée, mixto ceviche with octopus and shrimp and ceviche crocante with crispy fried calamari. Misky Misky gets bonus points for being on the way to the Ikea in Covina.
125 N. Fairway Lane, West Covina, (626) 966-0600, www.miskymisky.com