6 places to try ceviche in metro Atlanta

Fresh-Catch Coconut Ceviche from Fogón and Lions. (Ligaya Figueras / ligaya.figueras@ajc.com)

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

Fresh-Catch Coconut Ceviche from Fogón and Lions. (Ligaya Figueras / ligaya.figueras@ajc.com)

Ceviche is the ultimate no-cook fish dish. Simply cube some fresh catch and let a seasoned citrus marinade denature the flesh, turning it from translucent to opaque.

When the heat index rises above 100 degrees, few dishes are as cooling as a combination of firm, citrus-spiked fish and seafood, tender chunks of sweet potato, slivers of pungent red onion and crunchy corn nuts in a pool of bracingly acidic, aji pepper-flecked marinade known as leche de tigre, or tiger’s milk.

You can find ceviche on the menu at plenty of Latin American restaurants, starting with these six new, new-ish and never-say-die spots in metro Atlanta.

Fogón and Lions

Chef-owner Julio Delgado’s new modern Spanish-Latin concept in downtown Alpharetta focuses on all manner of wood-fired preparations (olives! caramelized endive with smoked strawberries!), but don’t gloss over the coconut ceviche.

The fish of the day (in my case, amberjack) swims in a delicious leche de tigre made with coconut milk that tingles from red serrano and thinly shaved onion. The usual corn nuts, known in Spanish as cancha serrana or maíz tostado, are creatively swapped for itty bitty nubs of popcorn. This white (popcorn) on white (fish) on white (leche) sensation nestled in a bowl of crushed ice to keep things chilled to the last bite is one of the most elegant — and serviceable — ceviche presentations I’ve encountered in the local dining scene.

10 Roswell St., Alpharetta. 770-676-9133, fogonandlions.com.

Leche de Tigre from Machu Picchu. (Ligaya Figueras / ligaya.figueras@ajc.com)

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

icon to expand image

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu regulars thanked the gods when the Peruvian restaurant resurfaced in early 2020 after having shuttered its location at Northeast Plaza on Buford Highway some five years earlier.

Whether featuring fish, shrimp, mixed seafood or a combination of all the sea creatures, the restaurant’s colorful ceviche is tidily arranged on the plate: cured fish topped with red onions here, yellow corn nuts there, a disk of boiled sweet potato in one corner, white potato in another.

If you consider leche de tigre the prize, akin to pot liquor at the bottom of a pot of greens, order it at Machu Picchu. Served in an oversized goblet, a few forks’ worth of fish, red onion and corn nuts float in a spicy, limy marinade that’ll put some serious hair on your chest.

2863 Buford Highway NE, Brookhaven. 404-464-7100, no website.

Crispy Ceviche from Pisco Latin Kitchen & Ceviche Bar. (Ligaya Figueras / ligaya.figueras@ajc.com)

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

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Credit: Ligaya Figueras

Pisco Latin Kitchen & Ceviche Bar

Joseph Rosales has been serving ceviche at Mambo’s Café in Alpharetta for years. Now it’s a headliner at his Pisco Latin Kitchen & Ceviche Bar, open since mid-March in the former Cafe Sunflower spot in Sandy Springs.

Here, you’ve got a choice of three ceviche preparations: traditional, mixed or crispy. The first brings citrus-cured grouper with the standard red onions, sweet potato and corn nuts. The second adds shrimp, octopus, squid and mussels. The last — my recommendation — is the Peruvian street food rendition that tops traditional ceviche with a generous pile of salty, crunchy fried squid (though a garnish of slender, curled strips of fried plantain gives it an upscale look). It’s heaped with so many calamari rings that you’d do well to ask for some romesco aioli and start dipping.

The restaurant’s slightly milky leche de tigre is a mix of lime, ginger, aji peppers, celery, garlic and black pepper, and available in your preferred heat level. Medium brought a pleasant kick without inducing a sweat.

5975 Roswell Road, Sandy Springs. 404-205-5750, piscolk.com.

Alma Cocina

After a two-year pandemic-induced closure, the downtown location of Fifth Group’s upscale Mexican concept reopened in late April. You’ll find a shellfish ceviche here, and at its sister restaurant in Buckhead.

Octopus, shrimp and snapper marinate in a mild leche de tigre. Finely diced cucumber and watermelon radish offer plenty of crunch to counter a smooth avocado mousse. A spoonful of orange tobiko completes the seafood rainbow.

191 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta, 404-968-9662; and 3280 Peachtree Road NE, 404-873-4676. alma-atlanta.com.

Celery Ceviche from The Betty. (Ligaya Figueras / ligaya.figueras@ajc.com)

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

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Credit: Ligaya Figueras

The Betty

Technically, ceviche isn’t ceviche without fish or seafood. But considering all the meat treatment we give to veggies these days, why not do some fish cookery tricks with them?

That’s the mindset of Brandon Chavannes, executive chef at The Betty, the swanky restaurant and bar at the Kimpton Sylvan Hotel in Buckhead. Chavannes credits Hector Santiago for turning him on to vegetarian ceviche during time spent at Santiago’s Pura Vida in the early 2000s.

With his celery ceviche, Chavannes gives thoughtful treatment to a garden vegetable that often gets second-class treatment. The stalk is peeled to remove tough, chewy strings, then sliced into slender strips left to soak in a citrus-forward vinaigrette. Tiny enoki mushroom caps add a touch of earthiness, pecorino brings umami, a scattering of fennel seeds lends an accent of anise, and serrano chile brings the heat. It might look like a still life on a plate, but this vegetarian ceviche-inspired composition comes alive with every bite.

374 E. Paces Ferry Road NE, Atlanta. 470-531-8902, thebettyatl.com.

Ceviche de Camarón con Chifles from El Viñedo Local. (Ligaya Figueras / ligaya.figueras@ajc.com)

Credit: Ligaya Figueras

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Credit: Ligaya Figueras

El Viñedo Local

Come the weekend, if you find yourself in Midtown with time on your hands, pass the afternoon on the patio at El Viñedo Local with a bowl of ceviche and glass of vino.

Open since spring 2021, this South American restaurant and wine bar has two ceviche options on its midday menu: Victoriano — billed as a traditional Peruvian ceviche; and shrimp ceviche with plantain chips. (A dinner-only mixed seafood ceviche includes tilapia, octopus and shrimp.)

The Victoriano, which rests on a bed of bibb lettuce, tasted fresh, clean and slightly heated from habanero. Ceviche de Camarón is a more formal arrangement: a ring of whole, shelled shrimp topped with a tangle of pickled red onions and wispy cilantro over a base of creamy avocado puree ringed with droplets of Meyer lemon oil. All of it is terrifically scoopable with the accompanying side of chifles, thinly sliced deep-fried green plantains.

Pair either with one of the nearly four dozen wines available in 3- and 6-ounce pours for as little as $6.

730 Peachtree St., Atlanta. 404-596-8239, elvinedolocal.com.

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