The city’s best ceviche is the platter at unfussy Polvo’s, with its avocado slices and impeccably fresh, lime-marinated tilapia—if you don’t care for a dollop of cocktail sauce in the middle (a Mexican touch), ask the kitchen to omit it. Big chunks of tender tilapia zapped with Bermuda onion, tomato, and avocado make up El Chile’s terrific ceviche, and thick chips double as edible spoons; in clement weather, eat on the cafe’s breezy wood deck. Civilized Las Palomas does a tangy, finely chopped orange roughy ceviche with a decided herbal tang; it comes in a parfait glass, just as it does in Mexico. At modern Manuel’s, the very limey tuna ceviche—a chunky concoction strewn with chopped serranos, cilantro, onions, and tomatoes—has quite a following.
Chef Joanne Bondy’s ceviche at hacienda-like Ciudad is the city’s best, exciting and beautiful. Served in a molcajete, the tropical mélange combines chunks of shrimp, octopus, and conch with pico de gallo in a sublime vanilla-pineapple blend that is a welcome departure from the usual lime marinade. At happy Gloria’s, in Oak Cliff, ceviche can be ordered atop a tostada; the mixture of scallops, orange roughy, and shrimp has firm texture and tart lime flavor that manages not to overwhelm. And although it’s called shrimp-avocado pico, the seafood cocktail at rowdy, rambling Matt’s Rancho Martinez in Lakewood is a pretty, perky ceviche-like salad.
At Yum Balam, a style-setter with white tablecloths and blond-wood floors, the fish in the ceviche has been quickly blanched before being tossed with lemon and lime juice, olive oil, oregano, coconut, diced mango, and roasted corn. Traditional? No, but who cares. It’s nothing short of sublime.
Lush and rustic at the same time, the ceviche at beach-themed La Playa Maya is sensational. Big, juicy chunks of fish—usually catfish—are marinated in lime and a little oil, then served over lettuce and slices of avocado. Doused with jalapeño sauce from the bottle on the table, it’s a simple joy.
The chilled ceviche at bright, bustling Tampico Seafood & Cocina Mexicana is the freshest in town, as invigorating as an ocean breeze. Tender chopped mahimahi and shrimp are “cooked” in tangy lime juice then served in a tall sundae glass spilling over with vibrant pico de gallo and avocado. Almost as wonderful is the spicier version, with snapper, whole shrimp and scallops, zesty pico de gallo, and muchos sliced avocados, at the original Pico’s, on Bellaire Boulevard; relax by the gurgling patio fountain or at the palapa bar indoors and pretend you’re in Puerto Vallarta.
The upscale Hamilton Cafe Grill Bar is on the ground floor of the former Hamilton Hotel, now a residence for senior citizens. It serves little Mexican food, but its surprising and unconventional salmon ceviche—with capers, chopped red onion and tomato, olive oil, lime, and Worcestershire—could hardly be improved on.
Carrots and green olives—what is this, a salad? No, just the city’s top ceviche—refreshing and unconventional—at informal El Siete Mares, an entry point into Mexico if ever there was one.