Now that summer is bearing down on us, our tastes are starting to get a little bit lighter. Scarfing down all those heavy burgers and barbecue isn't enticing, or practical, during the summer's hottest months, unless you want the meat sweats come pool time.
But eating lighter doesn't have to mean ordering an uninspired salad or overcooked salmon. Ceviche, a traditional Latin American dish made of fish "cooked" in citrus juices and served with herbs and other aromatics, is a decidedly light option that you don't even have to be on a diet to enjoy. Civiche's not hard to find in Dallas, and your favorite may not be on this list. But here are five we love, if you need a good place to start.
1. Nazca Kitchen (above) There aren't a lot of Peruvian restaurants in Dallas, but Nazca Kitchen is really all you need. The ceviche plate here is made with tilapia, which may seem like a lower-grade fish compared to all that ahi and salmon you're used to, but this mild fish provides a great canvas for the piquant dressing made with aji, mango and lime. You can substitute salmon for the tilapia for a few bucks more, but the original is perfectly fine.
2. Gemma Gemma may be better known for its fresh pasta and those ridiculous fried castelvetrano olives, but their interpretation of Latin American ceviches is just as well executed. A tartare of arctic char made with sesame, lime and kiwi better suits the traditional requirement that ceviches be cured in citrus juice, but a crudo of perfectly trimmed kampachi simply served with Himalayan pink salt and blood oranges is close enough for me.
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3. La Calle Doce Sometimes it's best to just keep it simple and stick to your roots. La Calle Doce, a Mexican seafood restaurant and East Dallas favorite, is the perfect place to find a ceviche that pays tribute to traditional ceviches made in Acapulco. There aren't any fussy preparations or ingredients you don't recognize, only fresh fish and shrimp tossed in a perfect blend of traditional Mexican flavors, including garlic, onions, tomatoes, and cilantro.
4. Meso Maya Chef Nico Sanchez's exacting cuisine has helped him and his contemporaries redefine what Mexican food means in Dallas. Of course, this means Sanchez also figured out a way to elevate Mexico's version of ceviche without sacrificing its authenticity. The ceviche mixto on the dinner menu at Meso Maya combines classic-yet-inventive Mexican ingredients like jicama and serrano peppers with impressively fresh striped bass and Mazatlan white shrimp fished in the state of Sinaloa.
5. Spoon Bar & Kitchen The ceviche served at John Tesar's Spoon Bar & Kitchen is most definitely gringo ceviche, but it's worth checking out. Spoon has a full menu of tempting ceviche and crudo plates, including yellowtail cured with Texas grapefruits and cuttlefish served with jalapeno oil and yuzu. There's no way you're going to be able to choose only one or two of these options to try, so it's probably best to just go ahead and spring for the trio and make that decision a little easier.