Saturday in Santiago: La Mar

Gastón Acurio is kind of a big deal when it comes to Peruvian food, a chef turned chain restaurateur. In Santiago alone we’ve got the ultra-high-end Astrid & Gastón, casual Tanta and, most recently, the chifa – that’s Peruvian Chinese fusion – Madame Tusan. My favorite, however, is the fancy and fashionable cebichería La Mar.

It’s not cheap, but the food is creative and good, and the restaurant itself is light, airy and colorful. Just like the multi-colored potato chips and dipping sauces.

Peruvian chips

We shared shrimp cocktail causas to start. The base of any causa is potato mixed with ají amarillo, a yellow chili. This one then had a healthy serving of shrimp, a little lettuce, a spicy mayonnaise sauce and a tiny little hard-boiled egg. I’m not usually a mayo fan, but the spicy sauce really made this dish.

Shrimp causa

We also shared a ceviche mixto. When in Rome a cebichería, right? Mixto just means mixed, which accounts for the combo of fish and other seafood. My mouth is watering just looking at this picture and remembering the lemon and onion flavors. Plus I’m a sucker for the giant corn.

Ceviche mixto

My dad ordered his own ceviche as his main course since all of the regular ceviches are made with garlic (Dad’s allergic). Our waiter was quick to offer a basic lemon-only preparation just for my dad, which made him a happy customer.


Jane chose the tiradito nikei, tuna and salmon in a tamarind and sesame oil sauce. I’d gotten my fill of raw fish with our ceviche starter, but if I hadn’t, I would have been supremely jealous. This was seriously tasty.

Tiradito nikei

Rodolfo and I picked rice-based dishes – him the arroz chaufa, fried rice with seafood, and me an ají amarillo risotto with shrimp. My risotto was creamy with just a touch of spice.

Shrimp risotto

Rodolfo said his rice was also yummy, and as he’s somewhat of an arroz chaufa connoisseur, I’m inclined to trust his judgment.

Arroz chaufa

Despite being inappropriately full, I somehow found room for a little tres leches cake for dessert. This I have to admit was good but not great. What was great but somehow escaped the camera were the pisco sours, however. There’s no Spanish translation needed for that particular Peruvian specialty – don’t miss them.

Tres leches cake

La Mar’s prices do include a bit of a mark-up for Gastón Acurio’s reputation, the restaurant’s chi-chi location, and the general scene. But considering how good the food is, the extra you pay isn’t enough to drive me away if I’m feeling like a splurge.

More in this series:
Saturday in Santiago

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36 Responses to “Saturday in Santiago: La Mar”

  1. Sydney says:

    I’ve been to La Mar twice in SF and it’s one of my favorite spots! Love the raw fish, mmmmmmm :-) Interesting to see that it’s all the same stuff!

    • Emily says:

      It makes me happy to think that we can go to the same restaurant even all these miles apart…I guess the same could be said of a Starbucks or a McDonald’s, but somehow that’s not quite the same!

  2. weezermonkey says:

    Your dad is allergic to garlic?! :(

    • Emily says:

      Yup! I’m not a huge garlic person as a result, since we didn’t cook with it at home when I was a kid, but I realize that for most people this sounds like a fate only marginally better than death.

  3. Oh! La Mar, I have been there 3 times and the food is always excelent!!!!, but my favorite peruvian restaurant is Astrid & Gastón! 😀

    • Emily says:

      We still haven’t been to Astrid & Gastón. I want to try it, but I’ve just heard that it’s SO expensive, so I haven’t quite gotten up the courage to face the bill yet. Someday!

  4. Walter says:

    Nice photographs, yummy!

    I vividly remember my tasty ceviche when I was in Peru a few years ago.

    Recently I travelled to Puglia in Italy. They offer pretty ‘decent’ food, too 😉

    Check out my photographs on!

  5. Hey, did you get a new camera? These food pics are outstanding!!! Yuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuum!

    • Emily says:

      I didn’t, but thank you! I think it must be the lighting – most of the time I’m taking pictures at dinner time inside, but this was lunch in a restaurant where all the walls are giant windows.

  6. Kyle says:

    Mmmm this looks yummy! Peruvian normally isn’t my thing, but this looks so good you’re making me want to re-think that.

  7. Damn that food looks good..

    • Emily says:

      It was absolutely delicious.

      • Kyle says:

        It’s because there was a ceviche entrada at the wedding last night…I tried one piece of the fish and did not like at all. But the big corn and onion and lemon flavor were so good after Seba ate all my fish :)

        And it’s bc your pics are amazing.

  8. Andrea says:

    Your photos are gorgeous! This is totally my kind of food – everything looks so fresh and delicious

  9. Abby says:

    Those causas look amazing! I love Peruvian food.

  10. Ayngelina says:

    Sometimes pricey is worth it and it sounds like this is true here.

  11. I was thinking the same thing about these pictures — they look great! (and delicious!)


  12. Looks amazing! I’ve been to the one in San Francisco and loved the ceviche there!

  13. Bill says:

    Been to the one in Lima many times. The shellfish is wonderful.

  14. haven’t been there but those photos looks really tempting! :)

  15. Catalina says:

    I love peruvian food!!! I just went to Astrid & Gaston in Quito for the first time. It was delicious!

    • Emily says:

      You lucky girl! We still haven’t been to Astrid & Gaston here…I’m scared since everyone talks about how it’s delicious but crazy expensive. Maybe I’ll make a special savings account for it :)

      • Catalina says:

        hahaha i was afraid too. I always heard how expensive it is BUT it was not too bad. We paid $110 for 4 people and each one of us had a drink or 2 and sodas. The lomo saltado was around $18 (dollars). The ceviche was tiny. Im glad we had it as an appetizer and not as our main dish. It is more expensive than other places in south america but it is not impossible to eat there.

  16. Bill says:

    Astrid & Gaston-Normally i would suggest going to the bar and have some drinks and starters and see if you like it but the bar area in the Santiago place is pretty lacking. Lima much better.
    Catalina- I am going to Quito for the first time in a couple of weeks. Did you try any of the other Peruvian restaurants like La Gloria, Segundo Muelle, El Dorado?

    • Emily says:

      Who knew you were such an Acurio connoisseur?! I think we’ll just have to take the plunge eventually and hope that everyone’s right that it’s worth the cost.

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