The Mandarin Oriental sits on the southern tip of Brickell Key, overlooking mainland Brickell. The white, sail-like building is sure to grab your attention; although La Mar by Gastón Acurio might be a little harder to spot. To curious onlookers, the best glimpse you’re going to catch is the small terrace, propped up a few feet next to the Key’s broad path. But then again, why try to overpower one of the restaurant’s best features? Its beautiful view (and great food–but keep reading for that!).
The indoor space is large, with a tasteful decor–certainly a great place for a nice dinner. Nonetheless, it is the outdoor terrace that you want to reserve. The combination of wood and glass-topped tables and patterned chairs make for a great ambiance. If the weather is especially good, enjoying lunch or dinner with the ocean breeze overlooking the Brickell skyline is perfectly relaxing. And although the view is spectacular, the food definitely makes for tough competition as well.
- Barrio ceviche. Made with catch-of-the-day fish, shrimp, octopus and a couple rings of fried calamari. This ceviche is almost creamy–and spicy–as it is prepared with rocoto pepper leche de tigre.
- Anticucho beef. This dish is made with skirt steak and mixed with confit potatoes and the Peruvian choclo, topped with chimichurri and anticuchera sauce. We were definitely fighting over this one. A must-order.
- Lomo saltado. Although really good, the main concern with this dish is whether it is actually worth the price. Considering it stands at almost twice as much as other Peruvian restaurants (and isn’t really twice as good), I suggest you go with dishes that are not as common and are worth what you’re paying for them.
- Express lunch. This is probably the best offer in La Mar. Although the particular dishes may change every so often, I can assure you that you won’t go wrong with this one. It is offered only for lunch Monday through Saturday and comes with appetizers, an entree and dessert.
- Causa crab. Spectacular. This is probably my favorite dish from everything that we ordered. The huancaína sauce was perfection.
- Ceviche clasico. Not the best I’ve tried, but ok.
- Anticucho pollo. Very good, but still prefer the beef anticucho.
- Fish nikkei. Delicious. It is served on a bowl with white chaufa (rice) on the bottom, topped with an omelet-like egg, and the pieces of lightly breaded fish splashed with Peruvian-Japanese spicy nikkei sauce.
- Mascarpone. I am extremely picky with my desserts, so I didn’t particularly fall in love with this one.
- MO 15th. Made with whiskey and agave nectar with a bit of grapefruit, lemon and rosemary. Strong, but good.
- Albahaca pisco. Vodka-based drink infused with cucumber-lemongrass and an added cucumber-basil purée. Refreshing.
Overall, La Mar by Gastón Acurio is a place I am truly looking forward to go back to–especially while the weather here is still nice. The combination of elements such as the view and the food make it a go-to spot. So if you haven’t, go check it out!