Chef Jose Luis de Cossio quite simply makes the best ceviche that Portland has ever seen, soaking his limes for hours and tasting each one individually before using it in the citrus-cured fish that is the pride of Peru, his home country.
In a humble, half-hidden restaurant huddled between Barbur Boulevard and the river, de Cossio makes some of the most extraordinary food in Portland—including multiple versions of ceviche each day ($28-$30), each with its own creamy leche de tigre, a bright sauce imbued with the essence of Peruvian peppers.
His leche de tigre is luxuriantly dense to the point of creamy, never overacidic despite an explosive burst of lime flavor, balanced against the sharp bitterness of onion and airy texture of cancha, a delicate toasted corn. Meanwhile, an octopus saltado boomed out its savory depths—a refined take on the food of countless street stalls—and de Cossio shares Peru's devotion to the potato as well, with causas that have ascended to full-plate symphonies of fruit and spicy yellow Peruvian huancaina sauce, with a bass note of hand-emulsified, starch-rich potato enriched with oil.
De Cossio will tell you he only can do two things well: surf and make the food he grew up with. Judging from how he cooks, he must be one hell of a surfer.
Eat: Always, always get the causa and at least one ceviche, but probably two.
Drink: Drinks here remain humble—modest lists of wine and Pfriem or Belgian beer—but you will never go wrong pairing your seafood with a bottle of beautifully floral Via de la Plata Cava Brut Nature from Extremadura, Spain, available for a mere $34.
Most popular dish: Always, always ceviche, whose variations might take up over one-third of the menu.
Noise level: 50/100
Expected wait: Unless you want to gamble on getting a window or bar seat, reserve your table in advance. Paiche has only 23 seats.
Who you'll eat with: Peruvians, other South Americans and the elderly who populate South Portland.
Year opened: 2015, in December.
4237 SW Corbett Ave., 503-403-6186, paichepdx.com. 4-8:30 pm Wednesday-Saturday. $$$-$$$$.