• Open Tues.-Fri., 11:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m.; Sat., noon-10 p.m.; Sun., noon-5 p.m.
  • $$$
  • Dinner, Lunch
Eqeko is a Peruvian restaurant in Santa Ana. If America ever embraces a Peruvian dish as it does pizza, it won’t be because it appeared on Eric Ripert’s silver platter. It will be because it’s cooked by locals for locals in a moderately priced neighborhood joint, such as Eqeko, the new restaurant by the owners of Tootsie Ice Cream, tucked inside a modest brick building in downtown Santa Ana. The first thing listed on the menu is ceviche. Why wouldn’t it be? It’s real Peruvian ceviche, served with crunchy fried corn kernels of cancha and its original form called choclo, which are as large as Anne Hathaway’s teeth. Most important, the fish in the dish is flawless, luminous, piled in an ivory mountain after being firmed up by a sluicing of lime juice. And when you bite into a cube, you discover it still has texture—a bounciness that springs back at you before it melts into nothing. Each subsequent forkful you eat you drag through the electrified orange liquid that’s flavored by aji rocoto, one of Peru’s native peppers, but also ginger and garlic. And when your tongue begins to tingle from the hotness and your lips starts to pucker from the acidity, you calm it all down with chunks of camote, boiled sweet potato.

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