In San Fran’s Embarcadero there are about as many options for dining as there are fish in the adjacent Pacific, touts for tours to Alcatraz, or colorfully-adorned street performers cheerfully separating tourists from their good-naturedly relinquished cash. Even the smuggest aficionado who thinks of him or herself as a “Foodie” with a capital “F” will be spoilt for choice.
But for heartfelt cuisine executed with as much genuine passion as technical skill, head to La Mar Cebichería at Pier 1 ½. The first United States outpost of internationally-renowned Peruvian chef Gastón Acurio, the kitchen at La Mar is filled with the intoxicating scents and flavors of Peru. Knives held in hands seasoned with years of experience chop the freshest fish, cilantro, sweet potatoes, red onion, sweet local corn, and spicy habañeros.
Cebiche is unequivocally the specialty of the house, with offerings ranging from the traditional “Clásico” to the “California” version with wild salmon, shrimp, avocado, and aji amarillo (a yellow chile pepper paste) topped with fried purple tortillas. There are numerous other appealing choices to round out a meal once one’s cebiche quota has been met, from savory empanadas or yucca croquettes to creatively prepared and flavorful seafood, meat, and vegetarian mains.
Wash it all down with a refreshing “Chilcano”, a variation on a Pisco crafted with ginger beer, lime juice, and bitters and take in the expansive views of San Francisco Bay, congratulating yourself (“Foodie” or not) on San Fran dining dollars well-spent.