The Twelve Days of Ceviche (And a fancy panetón)
Christmas time has quickly become my favorite time of year in Lima, not just because of the festivities but also because of the sun. And of course, I never let an opportunity to enjoy ceviche go to waste.
Here’s a list of twelve cevicherías that I’m planning to stop by this time. Scroll to the end for a taste test of a fancy panetón, something that I’ve been waiting for a year to try. If you’re interested in Peruvian Christmas traditions, check out my post, Ingredients for a Peruvian Christmas from last year.
Twelve Cevicherías For This Visit
To tell you the truth, I intend to have more than twelve ceviches this visit. This list is just what’s off the top of my head!
Punto Azul packs the house with locals for good reason. We like going on weekdays when we have a longer-than-normal lunch break.
La Mar is the cevichería that transformed how Peruvians saw ceviche. Nowadays, the clientele is a healthy mix of tourists and locals. I recommend sitting at the bar where you can marvel at the fresh seafood and watch the cevicheros in action.
Barra Chalaca is a great choice for those who like bold flavors. The rocoto-spiced ceviche is one of my favorites.
We recently rediscovered La Picantería where you can order a whole fish and have it prepared multiple ways. We always choose ceviche and then another preparation like sudado.
Cumpa—many Northern-style ceviche places have cropped up over the last couple of years, and Cumpa is our favorite. It’s also our choice for Lomo Saltado and Arroz con Pato.
El Mercado is our favorite restaurant and is the place where I first had Peruvian ceviche. I keep coming back since we love the atmosphere and the ceviche. I’ll do a deep dive into El Mercado’s menu later this year.
Alfresco—offers especially fresh seafood in a city where fresh fish reigns supreme. The seafood tower is not always available but when it is, make sure to order it to sample multiple types of ceviche along with other seafood dishes.
I personally think that Cala has the best view of any restaurant in Lima. You feel like you’re hovering over Costa Verde. Their house ceviche smothered in cilantro is also quite good. Their makis are non-traditional but some of the best ones I’ve had. La Rosa Nautica and Restaurante Javier also feature good views.
Market ceviche—a lot of times, the best ceviche is the one that is around the block. Our neighborhood market ceviche place of choice is Cevichería Nancy. Eating at the market is a guarantee that the seafood is fresh. It also comes at a good price.
The final three cevicherías are the ones that are new or at least new to us. We plan to try Pimentel (pictured), La Niña, and Tragaluz on this visit. Usually, about 30% of the ceviche we have is at a restaurant that we’ve never been to.
These recommendations are off the top of my head. I intend this to be more of a list of cevicherías in Lima that we frequent versus a list of the best ceviche we’ve ever had (ie the list is skewed toward places that are easy for us to get to). Please let me know in the comments if you have any recommendations! I will publish a more organized version of these picks along with more photos next year.
Panetón or Panettone, yeasty sweet bread with fruit or chocolate baked in, is a classic Peruvian Christmas treat. The panetón tradition originated in Italy, but it’s been widely adopted in Peru and other Latin American countries. It’s what people eat when visiting friends and family during the holidays. Panetón is available all year round, but in December, you can find entire aisles at grocery stores, full of Panetón.
Panetón is generally a love-it-or-hate-it thing. Mariela loves panetón year-round. I like to joke that she likes to work her way through panetón like a book—making a little progress every night before bed. I personally don’t care much for panetón, but this year I wanted to give it another try.
Many of Lima’s best bakeries now offer their versions of Panetón. For the last couple of years, I have seen a lot of photos of these “fancy panetóns” on Instagram and wanted to see how different an artisanal panetón was.
Compared to supermarket panetón, artisanal panetón is made with sourdough and features higher-quality chocolate, fruit, and nuts. Commercial brands are starting to up their game too. I now see a greater variety of flavors to cater to personal tastes including plain panetón with no fruit and vegan panetón (not sure if they use yeast or not).
The trick was to choose just one to try. I was surprised to find more than a dozen options. El Trinche did a taste test of over 40 different options including over a dozen artisanal ones. They rated each one based on flavor, texture including “spongeability”, distribution of fruit and nuts, size, and the overall price-to-quality ratio.
After quite a bit of deliberating, we ended up choosing the panetón at Pan Atelier. Convenience ended up being the tie-breaker. Our initial choice required us to make a bank transfer to purchase!
Artisinal Panetón generally comes in a fruit and a chocolate flavor. They can run from 30-90 soles (they vary a lot in size which accounts for some of the price difference). I’m glad that the trend of giant panetones with molten chocolate gushing out is mostly over. Most chocolate panetones consist of chocolate chips or chocolate infused into the flour. We chose the fruit and almond flavor.
So, what’s the verdict? The panetón from Pan Atelier is very fluffy. The flavor is not too sweet, and you can taste the complexity of flour. I would prefer a little more zest or citrus flavor. It might be one of those once you go forward you can’t go back sort of thing. I tried a small bite of the supermarket version afterward, and it tasted straight-up medicinal (to be fair though, it wasn’t from our preferred brand). I’m not sure it was quite worth the price (75 soles or 20 dollars), but as a once-a-year treat to share it’s probably okay.
I’m adding artisanal panetón to my list of Peruvian Christmas traditions I look forward to every year.
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