By Rolanda Stinson-Smiley
On the coast of Ecuador, a popular food staple is ceviche. In North America, we think of ceviche as raw seafood cooked in lime juices and served cold with salsa-like toppings. Since living in South America, I’ve seen that ceviche is so much more than that. In Manta specifically, Fish Cevichería is highly recommended as the go-to restaurant for ceviche. The main location in town is located at the corner of Calle 17 and Avenida 7. To the excitement of many, in October 2021, Fish opened a sister restaurant in Santa Marianita. I had the pleasure of visiting Fish in Santa Marianita recently and even enjoyed a beach day with my family and friends.
Santa Marianita is located just 20 minutes south of Manta. The town is best known for its long, beautiful strip of beach and for kitesurfing. It is definitely a place you will want to spend a day. On the weekends, the atmosphere is turned up a notch because so many people flock to this beach with their families. If you’re not into crowds, then it is better to visit during the week to experience a more peaceful and “tranquilo” vibe. The Santa Marianita Malecón has many restaurants and vendors to choose from. Fish Cevichería is such a new restaurant here that most cab drivers are unaware of the name. If you tell the taxi that you are going to Ecuablue, they should get you there no problem. Fish is relatively easy to spot as it sits to the right of the main entrance and is two stories of gorgeous bamboo.
The views from this restaurant are picturesque! It is nice to be able to come off the beach, walk straight into a restaurant, but still feel like you’re sitting on the ocean. The atmosphere is chill and cool, and the staff is really friendly. The music is playing, people are laughing, and the whole vibe is exactly what you want in a seaside bar. They serve some specialty cocktails, but also have a full bar.
They have a list of local and imported beers to choose from as well. For those who do not indulge they also offer freshly squeezed juices and some unique lemonade combinations like Apple Limonada or Hawaiian Limonada. I had the Hawaiian Limonada and it was superb. It reminded me of a Piña Colada with lots of lime juice.
The food is wonderful, with lots of seafood options, and the prices are reasonable. I like the variety in the menu, there’s tacos, ceviches, sandwiches, soups, and grilled seafood. Every table is given a bowl of chifles along with three dipping sauces: sweet ají, spicy ají, and a creamy peanut sauce. My favorite being the spicy ají, of course. Let’s start with the ceviche. I tried both the shrimp and fish ceviche. The shrimp ceviche is prepared with a tomato-based sauce along with lime juice and cilantro throughout. The shrimp had been cooked and were large and very fresh. The fish ceviche was made from wahoo, which is a very firm white fish. The fish had also been cooked, cut into bite-size cubes, and sat in a lime juice base with onion, cilantro, cucumber, and tomato. It was very light and refreshing. Each ceviche was served with crunchy chifles and sauces on the side. On the menu, there were many varieties of ceviche to choose from, some very unique. I’ve never seen clam, calamari, caracol (conch), or octopus offered as a ceviche. So next time I return, I will be sure to try some of them.
Another Fish favorite is their fried fish and shrimp (apanados), both of which I’ve tasted and loved. This time, I wanted to try the shrimp apanado sandwich. It was delicious! It really reminded me of a shrimp po’boy from Louisiana in the U.S. The fried shrimp was served on a toasted roll with shredded lettuce, purple cabbage, grilled pineapple, and a creamy tangy sauce. This is now one of my new favorite foods. The shrimp were seasoned and battered to perfection. And for those seeking something other than seafood, there’s only one option on the menu, a beef sandwich (sanduche de lomo).
My son is not a seafood-eater, so of course he ordered this. I was very surprised though because the sandwich looked, smelled, and tasted amazing. The meat was super tender and very flavorful. The sandwich was served on the same toasted roll as the shrimp, but was accompanied with grilled onions, a pesto sauce, and shredded lettuce. Both sandwiches came with a side of fries, which were also pretty tasty.
I really enjoyed my time at Fish. The food was great and was made even more special by having the ability to watch the sunset and enjoy the ocean breeze. This waterfront restaurant offers a memorable experience that you won’t soon forget.