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The best ceviche in Toronto, ranked

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If the forecast holds true, we’re in for another heat wave next week. And, in 30-plus-degree weather, hot and greasy burgers, cheesy pizzas, and steaming bowls of noodles aren’t exactly ideal dishes to devour on sun-soaked patios. Enter ceviche. The super-refreshing seafood dish is cured in some kind of acid—typically lime or lemon juice—and from there, it’s more or less a free-for-all when it comes to flavours and accoutrements. Here are eight excellent ceviches you need to eat this summer.

The best ceviche in Toronto, ranked
Photo courtesy of Foxley
The one with green apple

1 Foxley, Ossington’s good-vibes destination for Asian fusion small plates, knocks it out of the park with its Arctic char ceviche. The rich, impeccably fresh fish is cut to order and dressed with sharp batons of green apple, pickled ginger, yuzu juice and an umami-bomb white miso pepper paste that combines the sweetness of bell pepper with the heat of bird’s eye chilies. Finished with toasted sesame and culantro, it’s a borderline addictive balancing act of flavours and textures. $22. foxleybistro.com  

The best ceviche in Toronto, ranked
Photo by Rick O’Brien
The one with blackened chilies

2 Quetzal’s ceviche could only have been dreamed up by a restaurant with an eight-metre open firepit. Hiding beneath delicate threads of crunchy frizzled leek is a gorgeous concoction of guajillo and ancho chilies, onions, and tortillas blackened over fire and soaked to remove any bitterness. It’s a take on recado negro, the smoky, piquant spice paste that’s typically served with poultry in Mexican cuisine. The blackened goods are blended smooth with coconut milk and lime juice to make an intense leche negra, which pools around Hokkaido scallops cured in pickled Anaheim chilies, macerated shallots, lime and salt. It’s finished with Granny Smith apple, avocado and ground cherry (a tart yellow berry in the tomatillo family), which lend richness and acidity. $31. quetzaltoronto.com  

The best ceviche in Toronto, ranked
Photo courtesy of La Bella Managua
The one with mahi mahi

3 La Bella Managua takes a traditional Nicaraguan approach to ceviche, pairing poached shrimp and citrus-cured mahi mahi in a dish that could be improved only by serving it seaside. The fish is laced with fruity olive oil and a lightly sweet combination of lemon and lime juice, ketchup, and a vegetable-and-shrimp stock. Cilantro, red onion, and green and red bell pepper add colour and crunch. Crispy plantain chips come on the side for scooping. Pro tip: the lettuce is not just for garnish. When you’re done with the ceviche, tear it up and munch it with the leftover dressing. $13.95. labellamanagua.com  

The best ceviche in Toronto, ranked
Photo courtesy of Grand Electric
The one with a crunchy tostada

4 Grand Electric is known for its tacos, but there’s a reason this ceviche has been a menu mainstay since day one. Albacore tuna is the protein of choice here, briefly “cooked” in lime and lemon juice to retain a pink centre. The tender cubes of fish are mixed with a crunchy, herbaceous salad of celery, radish, cilantro, and a duo of Thai and serrano chilies that add a noticeable but not overwhelming heat. The kicker here is the fish sauce vinaigrette, a sweet and salty triumph that ties it all together. It comes piled high on a crisp tostada and finished with creamy avocado mayo. $20. grandelectrictoronto.com  

The best ceviche in Toronto, ranked
Photo by Julio Guajardo
The one with pineapple leche

5 In its scallop aguachile, Fonda Balam pairs creamy Hokkaido scallops with a summery pineapple leche. (No, not actual milk: in the context of ceviche, leche is short for leche de tigre, a spicy citrus-based marinade that literally translates to “tiger’s milk.”) Fonda Balam infuses pineapple and lime juice with celery, cucumber, and a blend of culantro, tarragon, mint and basil; the bracingly fresh elixir surrounds the scallops in a daffodil-coloured pool. The same combination of vegetables and herbs, with the addition of peppery radish and sea asparagus, also makes up the salad overtop, which gives the whole affair a pleasing cohesion. It’s finished with drops of serrano oil and smoky serrano purée and served with saltines and chili-spiced corn chips. $24. fondabalam.com  

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The best ceviche in Toronto, ranked
Photo courtesy of the Wood Owl
The one with pink shrimp

6 In our books, a good ceviche makes its protein the star. The Wood Owl, a cozy Danforth wine bar, puts gorgeous Argentinian pink shrimp—so named because they’re blush-hued even when raw—front and centre in its take on aguachile. The crustaceans are cured in a zippy mixture of lime, jalapeno and cilantro. A crisp mix of thinly sliced cucumber and radish, cherry tomato, cilantro, and pickled shallots plays beautifully with the shrimp. It’s all topped with a salsa macha of pumpkin and sesame seeds, garlic, and a trio of chilies—a loud but proportionate touch of heat. $21. instagram.com/thewoodowlto  

The best ceviche in Toronto, ranked
Photo by Rick O’Brien
The one with sea bream

7 Bar Isabel, College Street’s iconic Spanish tapas bar, serves up house-butchered Cyprus sea bream, lightly cured in a blend of bitter orange, lime and lemon juice, tamarind, and garlic. Cucumber, mint, and Anaheim chilies add just the right touch of heat and crunch. The addition of creamy ripe avocado thickens the mixture and pulls it all together for an herbaceous, bracingly fresh bite. It’s served with corn tortilla chips dressed in a mouth-watering lime dust—fancy Doritos, basically. Pair with a cool glass of salty Benito Santos Albariño. $32. barisabel.com  

The best ceviche in Toronto, ranked
Photo courtesy of Mira
The one with salmon

8 Salmon is a relatively uncommon protein choice for ceviche, but Mira matches its richness with a creamy coconut-lime leche. Celery, ginger, garlic and lime are blended with a kombu-based coconut dashi, ice and kingfish (blending white fish into the mix enhances its umami and gives it body). The lightly cured salmon is combined with finely chopped chilies, crunchy cucumber, lime zest, cilantro microgreens and verdant cilantro oil. A light, crispy coconut cracker is the perfect vehicle for sopping up any leftover leche. $17. mirarestaurant.com

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