First Look: Over 100 Small Plates at Ceviche in Delray Beach

When you think of ceviche, think of Ceviche in Delray Beach. The restaurant recently opened its doors with a quiet grand opening last October, and we at Clean Plate Charlie think it's a crying shame we didn't know about them sooner.

The family of Florida establishments has branded itself as an upscale tapas bar and restaurant, and seems to have earned the distinction as one of the best spots for small plates; Ceviche was recently named one of the "Top Ten" restaurants in Tampa Bay by USA Today, with six locations including Orlando, Sarasota, St. Petersburg, Clearwater and -- most recently -- Delray Beach.

All are stamped with a unique interior decor that includes accents of brick tiled floors, dark leather chairs, mosaic tabletops and painted brick walls. Take the tropical outdoor patio dining space in Tampa, the rooftop bar in Sarasota. There's a flamenco room in St. Petersburg, cathedral ceilings in Orlando, and a historical wine room in Clearwater. The concept's newest location here in Delray Beach features a quiet outdoor patio and sprawling "ceviche tapas bar" not far from the city's downtown restaurant row, situated on a quiet corner off Federal Highway just north of Atlantic Ave.

And Ceviche certainly lives up to its name. Here, it's all about choice. Lots of choices. Like the decor, each locations offers an incredibly large tapas menu paired with an equally extensive array of drink and music. A calendar of live music features salsa, flamenco, jazz and reggae bands that rotate weekly, making for a festive night out. And, with six options for ceviche alone, the restaurants' eponymous dish is just one small part of the sprawling menu that offers more than 100 (yes, 100!) small plates.

The menu at each location has been designed by executive chef Antonio Escobar. From Malaga, Spain, Escobar began cooking at the ago of 10. A traditional European-trained chef, he received much of his experience in the workplace with various establishments across Europe and the Caribbean. Despite his varied cultural experiences, of the dozens of tapas at Ceviche, many represent the standard approach to the concept: Spanish cuisine.

Escobar said he has a special place in his heart for Peruvian fare -- for the culture's simplistic elegance and use of fresh ingredients. Indeed, many of Escobar's dishes utilize specific ingredients with a heavy focus on seafood, and spices like garlic, saffron and cumin. You'll find many of these ingredients in the 20 or so tapas frias (cold tapas), or selections that continue with an equal number of salad, vegetable, seafood and tapas caliente ($5.95 to $13.95). And let's not forget the postres (desserts), where housemade flan and tres leches top the list.

Keep reading to find out why Tuesday is the best night to try them all...

A few house specialities have their own listing, including various versions of ceviche that stand as opening dishes ($9.95 to $11.95) while several types of paella make for sharing entrees ($21.95 to $34.95). We like the sound of the ceviche de pulpo, a dish of steamed and chilled octopus marinated in lime juice and garlic, and tossed with fresh cilantro, jalapeno and onion. Or the paella negra, a novelty dish served with a rice stained black from squid ink, and topped with lobster and assorted shellfish and served with an aioli on the side.

But why so many options? According to Escobar, the time was (and still is) right for tapas. "In the beginning, some people thought I was crazy to develop so many small dishes under the same roof," Escobar told Clean Plate Charlie. "The secret is to approach the menu one dish at the time. Each one can be a part of a great culinary adventure. Tapas, without any doubt, is the perfect avenue for any gathering."

For more information about Ceviche Delray Beach call 561-894-8599, or visit the restaurant website.

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