Ranking 5 ceviche spots near SAC

This big plate of goodness made my day. Photo by Geovanni Esparza/ el Don

It’s easy to tell when one has entered Santa Ana. Our streets are decorated with fruit stands every few blocks, vendors selling flowers at intersections, and taco trucks on every corner. 

However, my favorite mobile service would be Santa Ana’s mariscos trucks. Mariscos (Mexican seafood) has been my favorite type of cuisine for most of my life. The seafood truck concept is widely popular throughout Mexico, and my first roadside ceviche experiences occurred on the side of a truck, from Baja California to Quintana Roo. 

Mariscos trucks surround Santa Ana College, so I have taken on the burden of finding the tastiest local ceviche near the school. Like every family, these eateries have their take on the dish, each with differing ingredients and overall quality. 

A plate of ceviche that was way too spicy
Xolo Truck’s overly spicy ceviche attacked my tastebuds. Photo by Geovanni Esparza/ el Don

5. Xolo Truck Mariscos

101 N. Clara St.

Xolo Truck Mariscos is the mobile version of the Santa Ana sit-down restaurant Xolo Style. I decided on a simple ceviche de camaron, expecting an array of chopped veggies and shrimp. The ceviche’s look was reminiscent of aguachile, using whole raw shrimp sprinkled with hardly any diced cucumber or red onion on the plate. This dish was the evil twin of Los Corales cocido camarón y pulpo (see below). The ceviche was unbearably spicy to the point of being almost inedible. For an easy $7, Xolo serves a hefty plate of uncut shrimp, lacking any toppings, and a punch so grand that my tastebuds were fried until the end of the day. Without the overindulgence of jalapeno, this “ceviche” would rank higher on my list. 

A plate of ceviche
The chamoy was a pleasant addition to this dish. Photo by Geovanni Esparza/ el Don

4. Emporio Sushi y Mariscos

150 S Hewes St Orange

The kitchen for Emporio Sushi y Mariscos isn’t parked on the side of the road, but instead in a small Japanese-Mexican fusion restaurant near Chapman Avenue. Although this location is technically in the City of Orange, the restaurant deserves an honorable mention for its ceviche menu. I chose the ceviche tropical and the ceviche altata, each containing some unexpected ingredients. The ceviche tropical was my favorite, including scallops, octopus, shrimp, coconut, and mango. The coconut added a crunch that was well-deserved for the fruity seafood dish. The ceviche altata included imitation crab, shrimp, mango, cucumber and thin carrot slices. The choices of meats and greens may be unexpected, but the ceviche still persevered. My favorite touch for the two plates was the chamoy, making for the perfect sauce. This trick is something I plan to use for my ceviche the next time I’m in the kitchen. This location is not on the bottom of my list for its obscure ingredient choices but for the quality of the meal. I found that the trucks I visited all served food that was noticeably fresh and chilled. Emporio Sushi y Mariscos however did not give me the same impression, with both ceviches hardly being cold, making the veggies have less of a crunch.

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A plate of cooked shrimp and octopus
The camaron cocido y pulpo was a nice change from the traditional raw shrimp soaked in lime. Photo by Geovanni Esparza/ el Don

3. Mariscos Los Corales

Main Street & Pine Street

I stumbled upon my third favorite when searching for a replacement for a restaurant that ended up being closed on the day of my scouting. Mariscos Los Corales is parked side-by-side with a gordita and quesadilla truck south of First Street. I ordered the camarón cocido y pulpo, meaning cooked shrimp and octopus (when a ceviche normally soaks in lime, with the fish remaining raw). The shrimp and red onions were intentionally not diced, much different than traditional ceviche. The large bits made this meal elevate to the top of my list. The refreshing taste made me want to take a bowl home to my parents. The dish was tangy yet simple, containing the standard chopped vegetables and zero spice. 

Lime being squeezed over a plate of ceviche
Mariscos from at truck may sound scary at first, but if you keep an open mind you will be pleasantly surprised. Photo by Geovanni Esparza/ el Don

2. Mariscos El Oscar

S Hathaway Street & McFadden Avenue

Mariscos El Oscar ranked second on my list for their perfect execution of an iconic plate of ceviche. I selected the ceviche mixta with imitation crab, octopus and shrimp. For $15, I had a wide plate of ceviche that was most like my mother’s- not too tangy, diced large and plenty of crab. This meal had the cleanest presentation, with the ceviche adorned with cucumber slices, avocado and lime. Mariscos El Oscars’ take on ceviche focuses on keeping it classic.

A heaping plate of ceviche
This mountain of seafood tasted as if it was sent straight from heaven. Photo by Geovanni Esparza/ el Don

1. Mariscos Pueblo Culichi

421 S. Bristol St., Santa Ana

The spot closest to SAC (less than 3 blocks away) surprisingly proved to be my all-time favorite. I ordered their ceviche chiltepin, consisting of octopus, shrimp, chiltepin peppers, cucumber, and the staple diced tomato and onion. The ratio between protein and produce was heaven-sent, with the noticeably fresh octopus and crisp cucumber alternating each bite between chew and crunch. The chiltepin pepper made for a gradual kick over time, but the right amounts of lime and salt made the pain pleasurable. For $20, the mountain of quality seafood is worth every penny.

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