Visit Peru Without Leaving San Francisco at La Mar Cebichería PeruanaAug 31, 2021 01:54PM ● By Fran Miller
By Fran Endicott Miller
Located at San Francisco’s Pier 1 ½ on the historic site of a former ferry terminal, La Mar's open and airy back patio has allowed the 13-year-old waterfront mainstay to enjoy continued success during trying times for the hospitality industry. The lively atmosphere is a pandemic antidote, and understandably a huge draw. The restaurant’s front entrance was once a passenger ticketing area and the rear was at one time a ferry loading spot. Connecting the two regions is a sultry, blue-lit cebiche bar that overlooks the expansive, high-ceilinged interior dining room that seats more than 250. It’s fun and it’s festive. But ultimately, a restaurant’s success is based on food and drink, and nobody does Peruvian better than La Mar founder Chef Gastón Curio and his Executive Chef Victoriano Lopez.
Peruvian cuisine is eclectic and includes indigenous as well as Spanish, Italian, and Asian influences. Lopez honors its traditions while incorporating California’s bounty of fresh and seasonally sourced produce. Vibrant signature menu items range from unique seafood, meat, and vegetarian selections such as the Cebiche Clásico with California halibut in a classic leche de tigre with red onion, habanero, Peruvian corn, and yam, and Tiradito Gastón with Peruvian bay scallops and creamy ají amarillo leche de tigre. Pulling further inspiration from Peru, the menu offers Peruvian classics including the Causa, a duo of whipped potatoes topped with seafood or vegetables, and Lomo Saltado, a Traditional Peruvian-style stir-fry of beef tenderloin, sautéed with onions, tomatoes, cilantro, garlic, and soy sauce, topped with a fried egg, papas fritas, and rice. Going beyond the classics, Chef Lopez creates colorful, fresh, and healthy dishes that cater to both gluten-free and vegan diners. Every dish is as beautiful as it is flavorful. This is food for those who enjoy a surprise or two.
“Spreading the knowledge and technique of Peruvian food is my calling,” says Lopez, who always aims to intrigue diners with his unique artistry and passion. “Our menu takes diners on a creative voyage through Peru, showcasing the diverse landscape and ethnicities that make up the country’s culture.”
The best way to discover Peruvian cuisine is via shared plates and La Mar’s dishes are smaller to encourage communal dining. For the uninitiated, the Experienca La Mar is a great starting point. This ‘chef’s choice’ menu ($79/pp) features four courses, including Cebicheria, Piqueos, Churrasco de Pescado, and Choco Maracuy.
La Mar’s cocktail menu is built around Pisco, the national drink of Peru, and while a Pisco Sour is the perfect start to any Peruvian meal, La Mar’s bar offerings go beyond the classics to feature a dozen specialized cocktails including the Chilcano with Pisco, ginger beer, lime juice, and angostura bitters. Traditional Peruvian beverages such as Chicha Morada, made of purple corn, spices and fruit, and Inca Kola provide a non-alcoholic alternative.
Photos courtesy of La Mar Cebichería Peruana