La Mar, San Francisco
The restaurant sits right on the water’s edge on the Embarcadero, with a view of the boats and the bay. This big, bold cebichería is the first American outpost by Gaston Acurio, the dynamic Peruvian über-chef determined to hook the planet on Andean chilies, tubers, and jazzy lime-soaked raw-fish concoctions. Who needs main courses when you can follow a cebiche sampler with fluffy cilantro-laced cheese tamales and attractively charred octopus skewers, all starters hearty enough for a meal?
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Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.