Del Mar al Lago in Salt Lake City

Friends, I’ve been keeping a secret from you.  I know, I know, sometimes I do this and I’m sorry; it wasn’t on purpose.  But every time I ate at Del Mar al Lago Cebichera Peruana in Salt Lake City, I fell into a trance and forgot to take pictures of my food.  But there will be no more withholding :: here is Del Mar in all its Peruvian food glory.

Choritos Rellenos, seafood mussel shooters, at Del Mar al Lago in Salt Lake City.
Choritos Rellenos, seafood mussel shooters.

For awhile Del Mar al Lago flew relatively under the radar, so to speak, thanks to its awkward strip mall location that’s more than a maze to find.  That is, until recently when rumors began to surface about the delicious ceviche (called “cebeche” at Del Mar), then Chef Frederick Perez was nominated by Food and Wine Magazine for one of the Best Chefs in the Southwest and now it’s a popular spot that’s packed on weekends.

The Fusion ceviche sampler at Del Mar al Lago in Salt Lake City.
The Fusion ceviche sampler showcasing the Ghandi ceviche.

Del Mar made a name for itself with its ceviche, which contains some of the freshest, tastiest fish in the city.  The seafood dish is a mixture of squid, octopus, scallops and other white fish that is uncooked but cured by citrus juice (called Tigers Milk).  There are several different flavors of ceviche at Del Mar, ranging from sweet to spicy ($10-$17).  For the indecisive types, there are two ceviche samplers with three flavors available ($22-23).

The Fusion ceviche sample at Del Mar al Lago in Salt Lake City.
The Fusion ceviche sampler, with the Brasa ceviche in the front.

The Cebiche Fusion ($22) is the spicier of the two samplers, with three signature ceviches (Ghandi, Chifa and Brasa).  The Ghandi is made with curry powder and mango; the Chifa with peanuts, carrots, cucumbers and wonton strips; and Brasa with fried fish and a smoky chipotle sauce.  It arrived at the table flaming—a fun touch because, really, who doesn’t like flaming food?

Seafood lovers will rejoice in these ceviches; the subtle flavors and varying textures of the seafood is still evident through the different sauces, which only enhance how everything tastes together.  The portions of the samplers are huge so order a side of rice or some French fries and split the dish between two people.

Choritos Rellenos Mussel Shooters at Del Mar al Lago in Salt Lake City.
Choritos Rellenos Mussel Shooters.

The appetizers are full of Peruvian dishes that may sound intimidating, like the Anticuchos (skewered beef hearts, $11), but are worth stepping outside your comfort zone for.  There’s also Yucca Frita (fried yucca root, $8), Papa a la Huancaina (steamed potatoes with cheese sauce, $7) and Choritos Rellenos, mixed seafood and mussel shooters ($13 for six).  More of a mixed seafood salad, the “shooters” require a fork (at least for me) but I loved the combination of different textures caused by the corn, onions, tomatoes and seafood.

Seared steak, fries, rice and plantains at Del Mar al Lago in Salt Lake City.
Seared steak, fries, rice and plantains.

If seafood isn’t your thing, Del Mar serves plenty of meat-heavy Peruvian classics like Seared Steak (topped with an egg and served with a heavy dosage of carbs: both French fries and rice) and my personal favorite, Lomo Saltado, a stir fry of marinated beef with onions, tomatoes and chilis, also served with fries and rice.

The Pisco Sour is a classic Peruvian cocktail.
The Pisco Sour is a classic Peruvian cocktail.

The physical atmosphere of Del Mar is what you’d expect from a shopping mall restaurant, but the energy from the vibrant staff and the excitement from the diners create a fun atmosphere that only increases once the food arrives.  Oh, and don’t forget to try their cocktails, especially the Piso Sour ($9) and classic Mojito ($10).

Go to Del Mar for :: a creative lunch or dinner full of fresh seafood and creative ceviches.  Notes :: The casual restaurant is a bit tricky to find (on 310 Bugatti Drive across the street from RC Willey).  Open Monday-Thursday 11 am-4 pm and 6 pm-9 pm; Friday-Sunday, 11 am-10 pm.  Reservations are accepted; call (801) 467-2890.
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