Even since M first visited Peru in 2004 he has been on the hunt for the perfect ceviche. Even when we are not looking, sometimes a place specializing in ceviche will present itself. When we arrived in Lisbon we had heard a lot of buzz around A Cevicherica (R. Dom Pedro V 129, 1250-096 Lisboa, Portugal), and the word was that it was one of the best restaurants in Lisbon, ceviche or not. A Cevicheria is helmed by Chef Kiko Martins, who has a growing empire of restaurants around Lisbon.
However, we were certainly not the only ones who had heard about A Cevicheria. The tiny restaurant – with not more than a dozen tables – does not take reservations, which means that there is almost always a wait. We went to A Cevicheria twice – once, when we arrived at 8 PM on a weekday, the wait was 2 hours. The second time, when we arrived before 7 PM there was no wait. The typical time for a Portuguese dinner is about 9 PM, so definitely learn from our mistake and get there early – the restaurant opens at 12:30, so perhaps lunch is a better bet.
However, when you are waiting, you can order drinks from a window at the bar, and even a small order of the classic ceviche. On our first visit we tried the ceviche and pisco sours to help make our wait go by a bit quickly (which helped…a little). Cevicheria’s menu is compact, and which the focus is on ceviche, there are other options too. Other dishes included causa, typical Peruvian appetizer which are basically potatoes with savory toppings and quinoa risottos. The atypical Portuguese “cover” is cornbread and sea urchin crackers with housemade butters. On our first visit to A Cevicheria we ordered everything on the menu (other than the slider and beef tacos) and here are our favorite picks below.
Gazpacho (7.70€) – A really unique green gazpacho with razor clams, and a truly green broth of celery, ginger and green apple. The tapioca pearls also added a unique texture. Very light and refreshing on a hot day!
Pea and Ham Quinotto (14.70€) – Though we came here for ceviche, this may have been our favorite dish of the night. The “Quinotto” is a risotto-style dish made with quinoa. We were at first dissuaded, as this dish was advertised as peas and ham, but it was actually serrano ham – not “ham” as American know – a translation foible that has fooled us many times. The scallops on this dish were cooked perfectly and the pea flavor was light and delicate. All of the flavors melded together perfectly.
“Pure” ceviche (12.90€) – This “pure” version is Chef Kiko’s rendition of a classic Peruvian ceviche, fresh whitefish topped with sweet potatoes, onions and the classic citrus-based tiger’s milk. This dish was extremely well-executed, and was one of M’s favorite ceviches outside of Peru. This is definitely what you expect when you order a ceviche.
Tuna Ceviche – This dish utilizes tuna fish to great effect, and has a bit of an flavor twist. The citrus tiger milk was flavored with coconut milk and lemongrass, and was topped with tapioca. We liked this unorthodox take on ceviche, and the Southeast Asian flavors worked really well.
While the other dishes were good, they did not stand out for us as much as these picks. There were also a few unique desserts on offer including a sweet take on quinoa (think lemongrass and strawberry). As a final note, the service at A Cevicheria was inconsistent: it ranged from professional on the first night, to rude and dismissive on the second night, so your mileage may vary. Fortunately, all servers also seem to be multilingual (as are the menus). While our experience at A Cevicheria was not perfect, it was still the best ceviche in Lisbon!