The Secret is Out in SD On Cafe Secret
In a quaint, cute cottage with a little blue sign is some of the best Peruvian food in San Diego, maybe even Southern California. Owner/Chef Bratzo Basagoitia is serving up Peruvian mainstays like aji de gallina, lomo saltado, empanadas, and alfajores, bringing us border-dwellers even farther south to the often overlooked and underrepresented food of South America, whose influences are an interesting mix of Spanish, Italian, Cantonese and even Japanese. Bratzo and his wife Daniella bought the café in 2009 and slowly, subtly introduced Peruvian dishes to the menu and to Del Mar…four years later and they’re a full-service restaurant with a loyal following, a number of accolades (voted “Best Ceviche”), and a sister market called Secret Pantry down the street.
The big secret behind this place is the warm, intimate atmosphere and the 100 percent authentic cuisine. All the salsas, aiolis and ceviches are made from scratch and nothing comes from a can. Fresh fish is brought in daily, and most everything is made in the traditional way, albeit any minor adjustments made for those who are gluten-free or spicy-averse; the kitchen is completely accommodating. “I just wanted to share the flavors of my childhood memories, ” said Bratzo, with passion and heart.
Chef prepared a number of their famous ceviches for us, from the Tiradito— a delicate dish of sea bass in a light passion fruit sauce with scallions and sesame seeds—to the Pulpito, which consisted of octopus dressed with truffle oil, olive tapenade and walnuts. However, Bratzo’s (and my own) personal favorite was the Mixto ceviche, a colorful cornucopia of everything under the sea: sea bass, halibut, shrimp, scallops, mussels and octopus, served with plenty of cilantro, onions, aji (chili peppers), and choclos (Peruvian corn). We also had the shrimp causa, a spicy Peruvian potato stack layered with shrimp and avocado and topped with langoustine, and washed it all down a refreshing chicha morada, or sweet, sangria-like purple corn drink. Delicioso!CAFÉ SECRET 1140 Camino Del Mar Del Mar, CA, 92014 858.792.0821 www.cafesecret.com