Weekend Brunch at La Mar on San Francisco Waterfront
By Emma Krasov
La Mar Cebichería Peruana is perhaps the best place outside Peru for pisco and cebiche, and the popular restaurant’s delicate causas are so cute you might want to take them outside to watch ferries go by on a sunny morning!
An enviable location and a full bar for concocting mean cocktails for brunch, dinner, or happy hour do not slow down chef Diego Oka’s assertive push for bold flavor combinations and excellence in their execution.
Be it causa pulpo olivo, formed out of yellow whipped potato and filled with octopus tartar and Peruvian black olives, or cebiche de hongos—a fishless variation on the classic, made of piopini, enoki, and oyster mushrooms—everything new that appears on the menu immediately becomes a popular demand staple.
With the accumulation of sunshine along the normally foggy San Francisco waterfront, seasonal weekend brunch at La Mar Cebichería Peruana becomes a coveted pastime for the city dwellers and the out-of-towners alike.
The entire dining area with a gorgeous view of the bay and gliding sailboats fills out rather fast, and if you are lucky you’ll get a table outside, right on a dockside pier patio next to the water.
Starting your brunch with cocktails is a no-brainer, and bacon-infused pisco as well as a slice of bacon with pickled onions in La Mar’s own take on the Bloody Mary proves to be very refreshing.
Coles de bruselas moves humble Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and kale into a new and exciting food category with the help of garlic and huacatay (Andean mint), jalapeño goat cheese, and aji panca bacon candy.
Montadito burrata is not like any other burrata you favor for brunch these days. Fresh creamy goodness of the popular soft cheese is served atop grilled slices of artisan Acme bread and topped with mushrooms sautéed in pisco and aji amarillo and a quail egg.
For a heartier fare, there is a remarkable medium-grilled salmon fillet garnished with red chard, fried choclo (large-kernel Peruvian corn), and yellow and purple potatoes sautéed with butter and garlic. The fish is crowned with a poached egg in an aji amarillo hollandaise and sprinkled with Hawaiian black salt.
You also can’t go wrong with the extremely satisfying chaufa power, a fusion of beef milanesa on top of wok-fried rice with Chinese sausage, egg noodles, scallions, bell peppers, and chifa seasonings and a side of fried banana, sunny-side-up egg, pickled salad, and aji panca sauce.
There are too many wonderful choices on La Mar’s brunch menu presenting the abundance of Peruvian cuisine with Spanish, Japanese, Italian, and other influences to name them all. Since there is no brunch concept in Peru, chef Oka simply brings up all the best from all the traditional meals of the day to create an unforgettable San Francisco/Peruvian brunch experience.
A native Peruvian of Japanese descent, chef Oka was part of the team that opened the first La Mar Cebichería in Lima, Peru, and then in Mexico City and Bogotá. The La Mar concept, originally conceived by internationally renowned chef/owner Gastón Acurio, introduces authentic Peruvian flavors to the world in a mostly small plate format that encourages family-style sharing. It also includes vegetarian and gluten-free dishes.
No matter how much you eat at brunch, La Mar’s finger-licking desserts prepared by pastry chef Astrid Gutsche are not to be missed. Lucuma panna cotta made of the Andean tropical fruit with a taste of butterscotch is served with chocolate garnish, queso helado, and fresh berries.
La Mar Cebichería Peruana is located on Pier 1½ on the Embarcadero in San Francisco, California. The restaurant is open daily, serving lunch or brunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and dinner Sunday through Wednesday from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. and Thursday to Saturday 5:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. For more information or reservations, call (415) 397-8880.