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Los Angeles, United States
Culinary Explorer – Washington/Los Angeles, USA
Casual but among the best restaurants in LA with ceviche at the highest level.
The beauty of LA is that the ugliness and roughness of the vastness of this megalopolis creates ample opportunities for little gems to blossom. Holbox is such a place that is tucked away inside a market / food hall (more specifically the Mercado La Paloma), which itself is nearly under the always busy 110 highway on one side and a middle school and some smaller factories on the other. At the same time Holbox is also the story of a family from Mexico making the US their home and sharing their love for Mexican food.
These days the Mercado seems to have been built around Holbox but the opposite is the truth and you can sample dishes from Holbox’s fish focused menu and add items from other stalls. Or, on Thursdays and Fridays you can have the eight course chef’s menu at the bar seats. And the experience is exceptional. Before I talk about the food let me just say that chef Gilberto Cetina and his whole crew is amazing. If there wasn’t the hustle and bustle from the market behind you, the atmosphere is like you are sitting in his kitchen and being part of his family.
Ok so the food, and maybe I should say THE FOOD. It is incredible. In a way ceviche has been the mezcal of the 2020s. Just like in the 2010s every place added a mezcal bar, the last couple of years seem to have seen an increase in places that focus on Mexican ceviche. And I love this trend. While the ceviche dishes at Holbox are among the very best I have had (like the Ceviche de Erizo con Corvina) Holbox is more than ceviche and more than raw fish (even though I would make sure to order the Tostada de Atun and the Aguachile de Camaron. Like with the ceviche the presentation is just gorgeous . If you are looking for a warm dish, the Langosta la Mojo de Ajo is amazing. Each dish makes the fish shine and it feels like the fish just came out of the water, it’s fresh and full of flavor.
All the praise Holbox received in the last 12 months (including being named best restaurant for 2023 by the LA Times) are more than deserved. I can’t wait to come back. If there was one criticism it is that the eight course menu is a lot of food. I think six courses would have been all I needed and the price of the eight course dinner would still be extremely generous for a six course menu.
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