Ceviche: Freshness of fish is paramount. Where to get the best in LA

By Evan Kleiman

Pati Jinich’s recipe for Ceviche Tostadas Puerto Vallarta is a good starting point for making the cooling dish this summer. Photo courtesy of Pati Jinich.

There are a few ways to “cook” without turning on the stove. Making ceviche by “cooking” fish with acid is a welcome change during summer, both in terms of preparation and appetite, since often the heat tamps down cravings for rich, hot food. Lasagne in August? No thank you.

And if you can't go to the ocean, eating a clean-tasting bowl of the freshest fish — enlivened with a couple of condiment punches — can at least take you there in your mind. Going out for ceviche is equally appealing in this hot weather, especially accompanied by chilled brews or cold sake.

At its most basic, ceviche is raw fish and/or seafood tossed with citrus juices, and left to “cook” in the acid until the appearance changes from translucent to opaque, and the texture transforms from very soft to firmer yet still tender. 

Mexican-style ceviche is the one most of us are familiar with and is the simplest to make. The fish is usually cooked in lime juice, then tossed with tomatoes, onion, jalapeño or serrano, and cilantro. Sometimes cooked shrimp and avocado are added as a garnish. 

But as always, variations abound throughout Latin America. The one constant is the freshness of the fish, which is paramount. Here are two ceviches from Pati Jinich: a classic Mexican version served atop tostadas (Ceviche Tostadas Puerto Vallarta) and a more Peruvian-inspired version. Here’s a shrimp ceviche (made with coconut milk) from cookbook author Rick Martinez.

The origins of ceviche, or cebiche, is in Peru, where white-fleshed ocean fish combines with lime and sometimes other citrus juices, onion, and aji limo (the famed Peruvian chile). But what tops off a lot of Peruvian ceviches is leche de tigre, a marinade/sauce made by blending uncooked fish and sometimes fish stock with citrus juice, aromatics like celery, ginger, and cilantro. It brings double the flavor to a classic cebiche and is often served as a hangover cure. Peruvian cebiche is often served with cancha, giant toasted corn kernels.

The Ceviche Mixto from Ceviche Stop in Culver City includes Peruvian scallops, mussels, clams, shrimp, squid, Spanish octopus, and mahi mahi. Photo by Onak Studio

If you’d like to keep your hands off the fish unless it’s being transported to your mouth, here are a few stellar offerings we have in Southern California. Truly, the variety of ceviches in restaurants and trucks here is epic.


Ceviche Stop
Culver City

-Served with tigre de leche, cancha, roasted sweet potatoes.

Sushi Nikkei
Bixby Hills and Belmont Shores in Long Beach

Peruvian cebiche from Nikkei Sushi in Long Beach includes the catch of the day, tiger milk, aji amarillo, cancha, and sweet potato. Photo courtesy of Sushi Nikkei.


Mercado La Paloma near USC

-This James Beard-nominated and Michelin-rated eatery is at the top of every list. Four different ceviches are on offer, plus more raw fish preparations.

Correa’s Mariscos y Cocina
Lincoln Heights


Mariscos el Faro
Highland Park

Del Mar Ostioneria
Mid-Wilshire on La Brea

Mariscos Jalisco
-This Michelin-rated SoCal classic has locations in Mid-Wilshire, Boyle Heights, DTLA, and Pomona.

La Isla Bonita Truck
Rose and 4th Avenues in Venice