I feel it's only fitting to do my first food blog post about the photo I chose as the background for this section of this site.
It's ceviche, or more traditionally known in Peru as cebiche. A staple in the Peruvian community and a beloved dish for all others, cebiche dates back as far as the Inca's. If you're not familiar with cebiche, it's raw white fleshed fish or shellfish cured with lime juice and served with red onion, aji amarillo , corn two ways and, when authentic, sweet potato. It is best served with plantanos frita, also know as fried plantains. It's refreshing and light textures give way to complex flavors that really make you beckon for more.
So where can you find this tantalizing dish? If you live in San Francisco, there are quite a few Peruvian restaurants. Some are fancy like Fresca, others not so much. Where have I had the best cebiche in this 7x7 grid? Without hesitation, El Porteño Chifa Peruano in Outer Mission.
El Porteño is located in the outer limits of what we consider Mission. Its on Mission at the corner of Rolph. Stationed next to a billiards bar you'd miss it on first glance, but if you take a moment and peer in, you'll know you're in for a treat. Their decór consists of tapestries of Machu Picchu and other Peruvian landmarks. Other than the wall deco seating and everything else is bare bones. This is a locals spot for Peruvians, a haven away from touristy and gimmicky San Francisco. El Porteño was initially recommended to me by a Peruvian friend.
The owner is half Chinese and half Peruvian, the restaurant is recognized as serving up Chifa Peruano which means Chinese Peruvian. One side of the menu is Chinese cuisine, the other Peruvian. While I haven't ordered the Chinese and I find most patrons to be South American, El Porteño is best know for their authentic Peruvian.
The cebiche is honest to goodness delightful. The citrus is not over powering, the heat from the aji amarillo is spot on, not over the top but certainly not weak either. The red onions are consistent in size and amount considering the heaping mound of fish you receive. The diced fish is the perfect size and remains with the perfect balance of firmness and tenderness. What ties it all in for me is the sweet potato. Having the sweet creaminess of the sweet potato with the heat from the pepper completes this dish. The icing on the cake, it's less than ten dollars. You simply have no reason not to try it.
Has anyone else been to El Porteño? Dare I ask my fellow San Franciscian's to chime in and tell me they know an even better spot? I know we have plenty of foodies here, I'd love to hear more about the different Peruvian Restaurants we are fortunate enough to have here!
All the best,