The oppressing summer heat around these parts makes us want to eat refreshing, cool things, and nothing fits the bill quite like ceviche. This coastal classic lends itself to creative endeavors, and there are many variations on the theme, but the keys to a good ceviche are fresh ingredients and a balance between flavors and textures.
If you can't hit the beach, head to one of these eight Austin spots for the next best thing: chilled, spicy seafood and ice-cold drinks.
The ceviche is an absolute must every time we visit South Austin's champion of Latin-inspired seafood. Chefs Jeff Martinez and Alma Alcocer offer a ceviche verde, a popular variation from the Mexican interior. Alcomar marinates finely diced corvina in lime juice speckled with fresh mint, then tosses it with serrano chilies, jicama, tomatillo, green olives, and avocado for a balanced combination of crunchy and creamy textures. The addictive, crispy homemade yucca chips are a bonus, and a michelada or a spicy xalarita margarita make excellent companions.
Clark's Oyster Bar
More a crudo than a ceviche (reminiscent of the delicious Uchiviche created by Tyson Cole), Clark's version consists of perfectly arranged, fresh red snapper cubes topped with golden roe, tiny cubes of cucumber and red onion, thinly sliced serrano, and minced cilantro, drizzled with a marinade of lime, orange, olive oil, and crunchy sea salt. Is it precious? Yes. Is it expensive? Of course. Is it worth the splurge? You bet — every single bite.
This newcomer occupying the former Mulberry space is making a splash in the downtown dining scene with its cute seaside atmosphere and tasty coastal cuisine. Coast's tuna ceviche is more similar to a poké preparation, tossed with a creamy blend of herbs and avocado, red onion, and crunchy cucumber. It comes with house-made tortilla chips, and if you hit happy hour it will only set you back $5.
La Condesa's ceviches have always been favorites, but Chef Rick Lopez has just upped the ante with a series of weekly specials in partnership with Sea to Table, an organization that connects independent fishermen in traditional fishing communities with chefs across the U.S. Each week, Lopez receives a shipment of whatever is available and creates true oceanic masterpieces. We sampled the Fantasma, a mixture of impeccably clean clams and mussels poached in a broth featuring Negra Modelo, ketchup, horseradish, and serrano blended with squid and garnished with radish and chopped cilantro. It's like a michelada loaded with plump bivalves, spicy and fizzy, possibly the best seafood cocktail we've ever had. La Condesa's Summer of Ceviche specials start Thursday and run through the weekend during dinner and brunch until Labor Day.
Fonda San Miguel
The granddaddy of Austin’s fine Mexican cuisine serves delicious ceviches for dinner and Sunday brunch. The Ceviche Las Brisas is a perfect rendition of the classic, marinated in lime juice with onion, tomato, and cilantro. The ceviche de langosta y mango combines wild Canadian lobster marinated in freshly squeezed citrus and mango juice with a mildly spicy mango salsa garnished with avocado. Order them alongside a margarita in the courtyard and you’ll swear you’ve been magically transported to Mexico.
This Caribbean-inspired locale serves some of the best ceviche we've had. The menu features one with marlin tossed with red onion, Fresno chili, and black sesame seeds, and another with red snapper, mango, chili, and minced cilantro — both perfectly marinated in lime juice to a firm yet juicy texture. The chef's special changes daily; on a recent visit, it showcased thinly sliced grouper with finely diced pineapple, orange, and a hint of fresh ginger. If you can't make up your mind, order the sampler with homemade tortilla chips and pair it with excellent island-style cocktails, a steal at $5 during happy hour.
Malaga Tapas & Bar
One would not expect ceviche in a tapas bar, but since Peruvian-born Chef Julio-Cesar Florez Zaplana took over the kitchen, he has been serving what he considers the closest replication of the dish as he remembers it from childhood. Super fresh, sushi-grade hamachi cubes and Spanish octopus, mushrooms, and red onion mingle with the traditional choclo (large kernel Peruvian corn), cancha (toasted corn kernels), and tender sweet potato with a refreshing aji limo leche de tigre and micro celery garnish. It’s different, filling, and absolutely delicious. Stop by for happy hour drink specials, and free valet parking after validation.
The Ceviche Yucatán is one of our favorites, featured as an appetizer with chips or as a taco garnished with guacamole on Fridays and Saturdays. Inspired by a technique owner Roberto Espinoza learned in the Yucatán, the mahimahi is sliced very thin, allowing the fish and lime to shine equally. It is complemented by unique ingredients like roasted poblano, red bell peppers, and fresh corn kernels, which add a bit of spice and sweetness. Fresh serranos provide an extra kick, and cilantro and purple onion round out the acidity of the dish. “Clean, pure, and balanced flavor is what I love most about our ceviche,” says Espinoza. We concur.