Sea Change

We fall in love with Gaston Acurio's La Mar

When it comes to choosing a seafood restaurant in the city, there are plenty of fish in the sea. Unfortunately, much like our dating scene, disappointments and shortcomings abound.

Well, Miami, we've finally met "the one." At first, Gaston Acurio's La Mar (his third restaurant in the U.S.) played hard to get. It's been open just over a week and reservations are nearly impossible to score–not unusual given its Brickell Key location.

The trick at La Mar is to play the field; take a seat at either the ceviche or anticucho bars–decorated with colorful chalk specials–which both provide a live culinary show. (Bonus!)

As we watched the fire-spitting grill cook our corazon anticuchos ($10)–beef-heart skewers topped with potatoes, choclo corn and creamy ají sauce–we drank a Maracuyá Pisco sour ($14) that our server insisted we order. The fruity, frothy version of the classic was the perfect palate teaser for the bright flavors that followed.

Some dishes are served in hand-carved replicas of traditional fishermen's boats

The ceviche menu offers seven varieties of the flagship Peruvian dish. Our favorite take was El Bote Chalaco ($25); scallops, oysters and mussels served a la chalaca (topped with leche de tigre, using the mollusks' shells as serving spoons). We followed the raw seafood with cooked, loving the grilled octopus and squid lathered with chimichurri on a bed of crushed potatoes ($19).

Acurio flirts with more than just fish, though. There are adobo beef cheeks in a fermented stew ($28), as well as chaufa–Peru's take on fried rice–with duck and kabocha ($26).

Go to La Mar and sea for yourself. You might fall in love, too.