Divino Ceviche | Coral Gables, Miami

Affordable, modern Peruvian dishes in Coral Gables

Miami is abuzz over the imminent opening of La Mar, the new restaurant from Peru's most famous chef, Gastón Acurio.

However, there's an award-winning Peruvian chef already in town that you should know.

For three years, Christian Encalada's carefully crafted menu at Divino Ceviche in Doral has gained international recognition–and now he has opened a new outpost in Coral Gables.

The modern bistro was still buzzing with the lunch crowd when we visited late in the afternoon. Our appetites were piqued by the complimentary basket of sweet potato chips and toasted corn (cancha).

Tacu-tacu de lomito (Photo: Paula Echevarria)

All good things do come in threes here, like the dynamic trio de ceviches ($19) and the trilogia de causas ($11) appetizer, a skillful sampler of the Peruvian mashed-potato dish that comes topped with shredded chicken, octopus or prawns.

In his tacu-tacu de lomito ($12), Encalada reinvents the traditional rice and beans dish– think savory Rice Krispie treats topped with strips of beef tenderloin, fried quail eggs and tangy creole salsa.

Christian Encalada | Seafood quinoto (Photos: Paula Echevarria)

The kitchen's quinoto selections ($13 to $16) blend Peru's disparate cultural influences. Whether tumbled with steak in a wok, like fried rice, or served in a creamy sauce with shellfish, like risotto, quinoa adds a unique and fluffy texture to familiar dishes.

Watch out, La Mar: The bar is already set pretty high.