When a friend told me he’d heard good things about a gas station ceviche counter, I naturally thought it was a step too far. We food people are always on the hunt for great food in unexpected places, and gas stations have, thanks to taco-devouring hipsters, become an oddly trendy place to dine.
But ceviche? A bowl of raw fish prepared between the shelves of motor oil and the Doritos aisle?
At Ceviche 365, inside a Shell station on Royal Lane, the answer is a loud and proud yes. And the ceviche is scrumptious.
This Shell station — on the northeast corner of the intersection where Royal Lane meets Interstate 35, in the heart of Dallas’ old Korea Town — actually plays host to two restaurants. Ceviche 365 and Krispy Krunchy Chicken stare at each other from opposite walls of the convenience store, with the snacks and lottery tickets in between as a sort of buffer zone. Ceviche 365 is tucked in a corner, with four stools lined up along a tiny bar that has a clear view into the tiny kitchen.
The see-through walls seem meant to show patrons that they have nothing to fear ordering raw seafood in a convenience store. I’m not a health inspector, but to this untrained eye, it’s a well-organized, spotless tiny kitchen. And the staff produces terrific food.
Peruvian-style fish ceviche with yucca, sweet potato and toasted Inca corn.
There are three ceviches on offer here: Peruvian style, with chunks of sweet potato and yucca; “classic,” with diced green apple; and Caribbean style, with pineapple. They’re all available in various spiciness levels with the diner’s choice of tiny, barely-pink shrimp or cubes of white fish. The fish is cut in large pieces, better for texture and to show off the freshness.
We ordered “medium spicy” Peruvian-style fish and shrimp ceviches and liked the level of heat, just enough to keep our taste buds on edge. When the spice became too much, a bite of sweet potato was on hand to douse the flames. There’s a generous helping of red onion, and I was also pleased by the relative lack of cilantro in the mix — a lot of people in my life can’t stand the taste of this genetically divisive herb.
Ceviche 365 is a friendly spot. Except that it’s now two. Just months after this Shell station counter opened, a second location arrived inside the Fox Fuels at the corner of Harry Hines and Northwest Highway. The Fox Fuels ceviche kitchen, which opened in late June, includes an outdoor window and counter for milder months.
So there we have it. Dallas has a gas station ceviche chain now, and it’s really good. How cool is that?
Ceviche 365, 11404 N. Stemmons Freeway, 866-238-4243, open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily; 10120 Harry Hines Blvd., 866-238-4243, open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.