If there is a summer dish for me at the moment, it’s a cool, zesty medley of seafood. At Raul Reyes’ beachy, azure blue Ceviche Oyster Bar in Bishop Arts (read my full review here, from the June issue), the campechana is a generous chalice filled with fat Gulf oysters, octopus, and shrimp. The oysters lay along the bottom, like beached whales. And on top, varying layers of pink shrimp (tender and sweet) and octopus cut into bite-size pieces.
The red lake in which it all swims is called sangre de tigre, a slightly sweet sauce built on Clamato and Key lime juice. Not so much bright as dusky, with a lull of tomato. Crowned with avocado and diced red onion, it’s delicious. “Vuelta a la vida” they call it in Spanish (“return to life”). It’s a party and a vacation in a cup, brought to your table.
If you get the signature ceviche, in a bowl or on a tostada, a pico de gallo brings a zing with its acidity. The campechana’s flavors are more restrained, an excellent partner to the other fresh, sweet seafood. (The shrimp cocktail will turn its sundae glass opaque with the same dusky ruby sauce.)
The atmosphere is almost kitschy beachy, with a cabana look that extends to the signs hung in the tiny hallway: Beach This Way. In its former life, this was a mechanics shop. Now they just keep bringing out the fresh seafood. Outside, sitting at wooden tables, you have paper napkins, blowing in the wind; you secure them with hot sauce bottles.
We needed a place for good seafood. This one encourages us to be outside and remember that it’s beautiful to watch the sunset and the sky shift from pink to deep cobalt and silver. The other week, friends and I walked into the sunset for the campechana—craving a piece of Reyes’ Veracruz.