Restaurant Review: Ceviche House in Old Town

by on May 22, 2018 · 0 comments

in Ocean Beach

Ceviche House
2415 San Diego Avenue
Old Town.

Bright Flavors at Ceviche House in Old Town

by Bob Edwards

It’s hard to find a good new restaurant to review in the Beach Area. Although it seems like there’s one or two restaurants opening every month, I find that most are boring and predictable or just don’t provide the quality cooking that inspires me to do a review.

I ate three meals at a seafood place in Point Loma recently, took a ton of photos, and started writing about it a few times and finally gave up. This Point Loma restaurant tries to capitalize on the formula that Mitch’s Seafood and Bluewater on India Street have perfected so well: Different choices of fish that are available as tacos, sandwiches, or plates along with a few other dishes such as ceviche or fish and chips. Unlike Mitch’s and Bluewater, this place doesn’t have a chalkboard with a list of the fresh fish available for order.  Instead it has a printed menu of a half dozen fish species that are always available plus one “catch of the day” that is guaranteed to be fresh.

The staff at the restaurant were evasive and couldn’t (or wouldn’t) tell me which of the other fish were fresh and which were frozen. Although the preparation was okay for about half of the dishes, it all had a cookie cutter feel that inspired little excitement in me or the friends and family with whom I shared the meals. Add to that the lack of transparency on where they get their fish and it was a no go for me.

I had a totally different experience this past weekend at Ceviche House in Old Town. All of the fish served there is fresh. Flavors are bright and intense, the dishes are unusual, presentation is beautiful, and the service is friendly and efficient.

Ceviche House has been in its Old Town location since last November. Before November it had a venue in North Park and prior to that it had a presence at area farmers’ markets.

The Patio. All photos by Bob Edwards

Located on San Diego Avenue, just a block south of the crazy crowds at Old Town Mexican Cafe and Cafe Coyote, Ceviche House is a calm oasis. Inside there is tasteful lighting, plants, and tile work that contribute to a nice ambience. The patio dining outside is quiet and comfortable.

The menu features about a half dozen types of ceviche, three tiraditos (“sliced to order raw seafood, the Latin take on sashimi”), various types of shellfish cocktails and salads, and hot entrees such as tacos, tostadas, and steamed, grilled, and pan seared fish.

Ensenada and Tijuana ceviche

We ordered two types of ceviche ($11 each), the Ensenada (yellowtail, watermelon and pomegranate in a sesame chile citrus salsa) and the Tijuana (Big Eye Tuna, lime, carrot and onion escabeche, blistered serrano peppers and radish marinated in soy sauce, ginger, and olive oil).

We also had the Aguachile Verde ($15),  which is “slightly citrus cured white shrimp” accompanied by shredded cucumbers, radish, cilantro, avocado, onions, and  micro greens in a sauce of pureed chiles and lime.

Aguachile Verde

All three of these dishes were very spicy with powerful citrus and chile flavors that danced on our tongues. The Ensenada ceviche was particularly creative and delicious as it combined meaty yellowtail and sweet watermelon bits and pomegranate seeds with the chile spice of salsa and the savory umami taste of the roasted sesame oil. Fantastic!

The Gobernador tostada ($9) is a crisp corn tortilla topped with shrimp, avocado, queso fresco, and onions. Not as spicy as the other dishes we ordered, the tostada provided a mellow counterpoint to the intensity of the ceviches.

Papas and Chorizo taquitos in mole ($15) was another spicy dish we ordered.  These taquitos featured chopped opah and potato seasoned and cooked “chorizo style” inside three soft corn tortillas and covered with a red mole sauce. This mole had sweet and sour notes, unlike the darker and more bitter mole poblano which is usually the only kind of mole you see in San Diego restaurants.

Gobernador tostada

There’s a nice selection of craft beers and a wonderful non-alcoholic nitro draft jamaica ($6).  The latter is the chilled and sweetened red hibiscus tea served at many Mexican restaurants (often available with other aguas frescas such as tamarindo and horchata) only this version is served “nitrogenized” like Guinness stout, which gives the fruity jamaica a slightly bubbly quality with a creamy mouth feel. It was refreshing and delicious.

Papas and Chorizo taquitos

All in all, it was a great meal.  It was a little expensive for a Mexican dinner ($89 for a party of three) but the quality of the fresh fish, the efficient service, the detailed preparation and cooking, and the creative combinations of flavors made it well worth the price.

Nitro draft jamaica

The menu has one or two chile pepper symbols next to what the restaurant considers the more spicy items but these did not seem to accurately reflect the relative intensity of the heat. My dining companions and I are big lovers of spicy food which is reflected by the chile dominated dishes we ordered. None were too picante to prevent our enjoyment, but be careful if you are averse to the real thing! The server said that there are alternatives that are less spicy and the waitstaff can offer suggestions for people who are not chile aficionados as well as the possibility of “toning down” some of the spicier dishes by request.

Ceviche House is located at 2415 San Diego Avenue in Old Town.  Parking can be horrendous in Old Town but if you cruise around you can eventually find a place to park.  Also, if you don’t mind a three or four block walk through the amusing circus of Old Town, there is usally free parking available at the Transit Center.

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