Restaurant review: Barra Mar


A popular new addition to the Av. La Mar restaurant area in Miraflores is the _comida marina_ focused Barra Mar, which has quickly become a new favorite hangout for the past five months. My curiosity was sparked after passing this corner locale on several occasions and observing lines. What sets it apart from other restaurants in that particular area? Quite possibly, the simplicity and return to traditional menu flavors and the terrific value-driven food (dishes ranging from 10 to 35 soles). Barra Mar serves “fast food”, but of a much better quality than your typical fast food restaurant. Barra Mar has also dedicated a large part of their menu to serving a variety of pejerrey options that you don’t typically find at other restaurants.

The casual, nautical decor of Barra Mar was inspired by and slightly reminiscent of a small fish market you might find at a port. Fishing nets, wicker light fixtures, ropes, fishing boat murals and framed nautical photos add to this nautical ambiance. Rustic wood tables, turquoise and wicker stools, exposed brick, and the pink bar add to the lively atmosphere. Even the bathrooms had nautical touches. Seating is available for approximately 25 at tables and the bar. Barra Mar fills up quickly, but the turnover is pretty quick if you are waiting for a table.

_(Photo: Carsten Korch/Living in Peru)_

The ceviche and pejerrey sandwiches are the big draws and “stars” at Barra Mar. The menu is not large (20 items or less), but there are several other great dishes to enjoy besides the ceviche and pejerrey. All the items on the menu were served on the now trendy, rustic white enamel metal plates.

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I am a huge fan of pejerrey and this is what originally sparked my interest in visiting Barra Mar in the first place. Pejerrey, (the technical name, _odontesthes regia_) commonly referred to as a silverside, is a small fish topping at 5 inches long which is native to estuaries and the coasts of Peru and Chile. Barra Mar has three different pejerrey sandwiches as well as three different sizes (1/4 King: 15 cm, 1/2 King: 30 cm, and the Full King Rack: 60 cm). We sampled all three versions offered: “criollo”, “gringo” and “oriental”. The “criollo” is more of the classic style with generous fried pejerrey filets, an onion mixture and a rocoto tartar. My personal favorite, “gringo”, has the fried pejerrey topped off with a generous amount of tangy, slightly sweet and crunchy coleslaw. The “oriental” version has thin slices of pickled turnip and flavors of ginger and other oriental touches. All of the sandwiches are served on homemade baguette bread. For an additional S/. 3.50, avocado slices will be added to your sandwich by request. Besides these three sandwiches, Barra Mar also offers a pejerrey ceviche and a marinated pejerrey.

_(Photo: Qi Tian/Living in Peru)_

We found the ceviche to be extremely fresh and prepared perfectly. We sampled the _cerró azul_, which was a pejerrey ceviche, canchita, a bit of _aji amarillo_ and sweet potato. My favorite was the _barra mar_ version which used the “catch of the day” served with _aji limo_, _choclo_ (corn), sweet potato, fried calamari and generously accented with fried _yuyo_ (seaweed). The day of our visit, cabrilla was the “catch of the day”; on other days you might find reynita or another popular fresh fish in the market that day. They do not use the pricey, premium types of fish, which also attributes to the lower prices.

If you are a fan of leche de tigre, you have three options to choose from at Barra Mar. Leche de tigre, “tiger’s milk,” refers to the citrus-based marinade that cures the fish. It is basically the leftover fish runoff which usually contains lime juice, onion, chilies, salt and pepper, juices from the fish and bits of the fish. In the past you would receive the concoction in a small shot glass. Over the past few years this dish has become more elaborated, served in larger portions and with more pieces of seafood. All the leche de tigres served at Barra Mar are served in glass mugs, showcasing the colors and ingredients. We sampled all three of the versions: _tigre blanco_ (classic), _tigre amarillo_ (with bits of white fish, octopus with aji amarillo), and _tigre rojo_(a mix of mariscos and is quite aggressive in its spiciness ). All were generous in portions and flavorful. I found you could definitely share one of these between two people. The rojo is definitely the hottest of the three. I personally preferred the amarillo version.

_(Photo: Qi Tian/Living in Peru)_

One of the table favorites were the _boquerones de pejerrey marinados en vinagre_. These pejerrey were marinated in vinegar, garlic and parsley and served in a tin to add to the charm of the presentation. A few slices of baguette arrive on the platter to accompany this pejerrey dish.

A must mention were the _almejas chalaca_, a clam version of the _choros a la chalaca_ (mussel version). The clams were plump, fresh and served with the typical diced red onions, tomato, parsley and aji. We also thoroughly enjoyed one of the combination platters, the _combi-mar_, which arrived on a large platter with generous portions of a seafood ceviche (shrimp, calamari, etc.), a mixed seafood rice and crispy fried calamari, all topped off with fried yuyo and drizzled with an aioli. It was quite delicious and one of the favorites at the table. This dish can easily be shared between several people.

Please note: on the weekends, Barra Mar offers a special breakfast menu between 9:00 and 11:00 a.m. For S/. 20 you choose three dishes from the eight options available that day, which can inlcude pejerrey sandwich, leche de tigre, fish broth, almeja chalaca, _sandwich de huevera_ (fried fish eggs), _tortilla de langostino_ (shrimp omelet), _pan con palta_ (bread with avocado) and calamari sandwich. Coffee or emoliente is included in the offer. These options are also available individually for S/. 6 each.

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Barra Mar offers chicha, emoliente, soda and water as well as beer. Desserts change on a regular basis and are offered in mini versions which is appropriate since the food portions are quite large. The day of our visit we shared a _suspiro de limeño_ and a delicious lucuma and chocolate mousse that we all loved.

It’s easy to see why Barra Mar is so popular. The quality is excellent all around, ingredients are fresh and the execution is precise. If you serve unpretentious, simple food at accessible prices the people will come.

Get a taste of Barra Mar in this fun promotional video:

_(Video: Barra Mar/Youtube)_

Barra Mar
Av. La Mar 309
Phone: 715-2972
Tuesday thru Friday: 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Saturday/Sunday: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Capacity: 25 people

Ceviche: S/. 18-22
Leche de Tigre: S/. 14
Tiraditos: S/. 20-22
Pejerrey Sandwiches: S/. 10-35
Rice dishes: S/. 25
Combination platters: S/. 29
Beverages: S/. 5-6
Beer: S/. 8
Desserts: S/. 7



Sheila Christensen Jeanneau

Sheila was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. She spent several years in Denver, Colorado at Regis University and lived eleven years in Fort Lauderdale, Florida before moving with her Peruvian husband to live full-time in Peru in 2007. An epicurean at heart, Sheila first became inspired about food and cooking through the fantastic cooks in her Danish family. In her free time, Sheila is a volunteer at an orphanage, is involved in sports, including tennis and spinning, and loves exploring Peru’s incredible cuisine.