la perla cevicheria toronto

People behind closed Toronto sandwich shop are now running a hidden cevicheria

The people who made some of Toronto's best sandwiches may have closed shop, but now they're back with a pop-up secretively serving ceviche.

La Perla comes to us from the people behind Torteria San Cosme (known for their Latin American sandwiches), and is currently operating out of Milagro on Mercer, another of their spaces. Ten kinds of ceviche are on La Perla's menu, if you include a build-your-own option and a massive "Siete Mares" version that serves two.

"A cevichería has been in the back of my mind for a long time, but in the recent years, having opened Torteria San Cosme in Kensington, with three restaurants running and now the pandemic, the idea was relegated literally to the back burner," Milagro and Torteria founder Arturo Anhalt told blogTO.

"My daughters and I designed the logo and I came up with a menu featuring ceviches including a make your own ceviche option, seafood cocteles, appetizers, as well as seafood and fish tacos. All the dishes are quite traditional, although some ceviche combinations are in-house creations, and focused on the rustic foods I grew up loving."

Ceviches of snapper, shrimp, chiles and mango are priced at $16.50, with an octopus option for $19 and a vegan option with jicama, tomatillo and pineapple for $13. Delivery is available through food apps or you can pick up at 5 Mercer through Ritual.

"Milagro on Mercer reopened late April 2020, Milagro Queen in May. I had to make the terrible decision to close down San Cosme in Kensington Market. We went from 50-plus staff members, now mostly unemployed, to a group of 11 incredibly awesome and dedicated managers and chefs," says Anhalt.

"Sales levels hit 50 per cent in two of the summer months, and the rest of the year have fluctuated between 10 to 20 per cent vs last year's sales… really unmanageable. Up until very recently I was back in the kitchens almost full time, and if needed, even in the dish pit. I do accounting and admin on my day off trying to figure out cashflows and payments."

Anhalt also spends any free time he has understanding and applying to government programs, and says he's really only able to plan week to week.

"To say that it has been hectic, crazily stressful and extremely difficult, not only to me, but to my staff and everybody involved in the industry, including suppliers, does not fully describe the general experience. Sometimes I am surprised that I still have the drive to get through this, but I just can't think of closing Milagro down and letting my amazing staff down," says Anhalt.

"It has truly been awful, but some good things have come out of all of this. Both Milagros are open, San Cosme came back as a virtual pop up, first from the kitchen of Milagro Mercer and now as well at Milagro Queen, and now La Perla Cevicheria, which I hope takes us into the beginning of the end of this awful pandemic."

We can all only hope that, as Anhalt says, this truly is the beginning of the end of all this. In the meantime, we might as well chow down on some ceviche in support of a local business that's been doing everything they can to survive.

Lead photo by

La Perla

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