100 Favorite Dishes: No. 2, Ceviche at Xuco Xicana

Photo by Brandon Fisch
Mahi mahi with watermelon radish, jicama and avocado.
​This year leading up to our annual Best of Houston issue, we're counting down our 100 favorite dishes in Houston. This list comprises our favorite dishes from the last year, dishes that are essential to Houston's cultural landscape and/or dishes that any visitor (or resident) should try at least once.

Xuco Xicana, El XX or whatever it's going by these days has two enormous assets under its still-new belt right now: Jonathan Jones and Brandon Fisch, two of the city's brightest young chefs. It's not just that the pair is extraordinarily talented, however, with Jones juggling the executive chef position at the still-popular Beaver's and Fisch fresh off a gig as the youngest executive chef in the city at Yelapa Playa Mexicana. It's the deep appreciation that the duo has for its Houston roots and the bounty we have in our own backyard.

Jones and Fisch are both highly competent with a piece of fish, Jones having studied the art of ceviche in Peru and Fisch known for his own Peruvian-style ceviches back at Yelapa. And although it's ostensibly a barbecue restaurant, Beaver's has long served ceviches and various other raw fish preparations for daily specials. Seeing these two men come together at Xuco Xicana was a blessing for all those who delight in seeing Gulf fish given the respect it deserves with such creative and invigorating treatments.

Black drum ceviche with radishes, corn and avocado.
And it's Gulf fish that takes center stage in all of the ceviche preparations here, whether it be a pillowy black drum spiked with warm chipotle peppers and garnished with radishes, avocado and corn, or a golden tilefish humming with howlingly hot chile de arbol and teased up even further with slices of pert grapefruit. And the ceviches change nearly every day, depending on what the kitchen gets from the Gulf.

"Today's ceviche @XucoXicana is mahi mahi tiraditio, watermelon radish, jicama, avocado ," Fisch recently Tweeted, along with the photo seen above. Between Fisch and Jones, the duo does a good job of keeping their fans updated with what to expect that night for dinner -- or what to change your dinner plans to include, in some cases.

In an interview earlier this year, Jones spoke about how important the ceviches were at his newest restaurant, one that he feels is more representative of his true self and background:

"I worked with five chefs from Lima, Peru when I was working with the Cordua group," he said about the ceviche my friend and I ate every bite of last night. "I learned all the different ways of making ceviches and leche de tigre. You make your leche with lime juice and you add bruised celery ribs, carrots and onions -- just like a mirepoix -- and let that sit overnight."

"It adds this whole different dimension and roundness that you don't get from a regular ceviche with straight lime juice," he finished.

And despite of all the wonderful dishes that El XX currently serves -- including its wings, which just won a Best of Houston® award in our 23rd annual issue -- it's the ceviche that I always look for first when I come there for dinner, eyeing the chalkboard special near the entrance with each visit. And I'm not the only one.

One Twitter follower recently queried: "Thinking @XucoXicana for dinner. What's cooking up @PapaBeav, @bfisch?"

To which Fisch quickly replied: "Ceviche, of course."

The list so far:

No. 100: Dumplings at Heights Asian Cafe
No. 99: Mixta Pizza at Friends Pizzeria
No. 98: Veggie tacos from Radical Eats
No. 97: Bean pie from Conscious Cafe
No. 96: Swiss chard crepes from Giacomo's Cibo e Vino
No. 95: Eggs Mia Bella at Mia Bella
No. 94: Mulligatawny soup at the Queen Vic
No. 93: Helado de Lúcuma from Pollo Bravo
No. 92: Black bean burger from Natachee's
No. 91: Chupacabra pizza from ERA
No. 90: Roast chicken from El Norteño
No. 89: Eggs El Salvador from Brasil
No. 88: Frank the Pretzel from Eatsie Boys
No. 87: Caldo Tlalpeño from Tacos del Julio
No. 86: English pea soup at Brasserie 19
No. 85: Falafel from Zabak's
No. 84: Buttermilk-fried pork loin with fried eggs at Canopy
No. 83: Grillades and grits from BB's Cajun Cafe
No. 82: Haemul dolsot from Seoul House
No. 81: Pandan waffles at Parisian Bakery III
No. 80: Pita bread and hummus at Phoenicia
No. 79: Goat pepper soup at Peppersoup Cafe
No. 78: Melon and Texas feta salad from Beaver's
No. 77: Hot Italian beef from BB's Beef & Hot Dog
No. 76: Bacon-avocado burger from Facundo Cafe
No. 75: Pancakes from Fountain View Cafe
No. 74: Hobnobs from Fluff Bake Bar
No. 73: Chu chee eggplant from Nidda Thai
No. 72: Sausage sampler from King's Biergarten
No. 71: Shawarma from Abdallah's
No. 70: Moules-frite at the Broken Spoke
No. 69: Hong Kong-style French toast at House of Bowls
No. 68: Sashimi sampler at Sushi Miyagi
No. 67: Baleadas from Honduras Mayan
No. 66: Snow ice from Star Snow Ice & Teriyaki
No. 65: Boudin balls from MerCheri's
No. 64: Miso ramen at Umai
No. 63: Grim burger at Lankford Grocery
No. 62: Dabeli at Bansuri Indian Food Corner
No. 61: Wine and cupcakes at 13 Celsius
No. 60: Pâté de France from Spec's
No. 59: Steak and eggs from Ninfa's on Navigation
No. 58: Breakfast pita at Niko Niko's
No. 57: Vegan curry at Cafe TH
No. 56: Samosas at Shiv Sagar
No. 55: Ceviche at Latin Bites Cafe
No. 54: Wicked Philly at Pappa Geno's
No. 53: Pork chop at Perry's Steakhouse
No. 52: Soft-shell crab at Pico's Mex-Mex
No. 51: Sno-balls at MAM's House of Ice
No. 50: Whole catfish at Saigon Pagolac
No. 49: Nova fish box at New York Bagel & Coffee Shop
No. 48: Sojok mana'eesh at Cedars Bakery
No. 47: Pho ga at Pho Ga Dakao
No. 46: Sicilia salad at Trevisio
No. 45: Dahi puri at Sweet 'n' Namkin
No. 44: Hot dogs at Moon Tower Inn
No. 43: Real guacamole at Yelapa Playa Mexicana
No. 42: Akaushi short ribs at Soma Sushi
No. 41: Country-fried chicken livers at Haven
No. 40: Seafood gumbo at Cajun Town Cafe
No. 39: Tacos at Karanchos
No. 38: Crepes at Melange Creperie
No. 37: Gua bao at Yummy Kitchen
No. 36: Guanciale burger at Plonk
No. 35: Snapper al cilantro at Teotihuacan
No. 34: The Houstonian at James Coney Island
No. 33: The Montrose at Amy's Ice Cream
No. 32: Lobster bisque at Philippe
No. 31: Tacos de cabeza y orejas at El Ultimo
No. 30: Oyster stew at Danton's
No. 29: Fried oysters at TQLA
No. 28: Banh mi at Cali Sandwich
No. 27: Captin's fried chicken at Zelko Bistro
No. 26: The Brisket House Special at The Brisket House
No. 25: Menudo at La Mexicana
No. 24: Chargrilled oysters at Wild Cajun
No. 23: Breakfast tacos at Revival Market
No. 22: Sticky toffee pudding at Branch Water Tavern
No. 21: Tex-Mex burger at El Real Tex-Mex Cafe
No. 20: Lasagna at Capri Pasta Pizza & More
No. 19: Pork rillette at Feast
No. 18: Chicken fried steak at Triple A
No. 17: Crème brûlée bread pudding at Killen's
No. 16: Migas at La Guadalupana
No. 15: Snapper with grapefruit at Kata Robata
No. 14: Venison carpaccio at Thanh Phuong
No. 13: Mesquite-grilled shrimp poboy at Goode Co. Seafood
No. 12: Tamarind-glazed salmon at Samba Grille
No. 11: Bone marrow service at Stella Sola
No. 10: Ribs at Gatlin's
No. 9: Shrimp and grits at Brennan's
No. 8: Barbacoa at Hugo's
No. 7: Texas shrimp chaat at Pondicheri
No. 6: Saigon burger at The Burger Guys
No. 5: Tagliarini with black truffles at Da Marco
No. 4: Oysters on the half-shell at Casey's
No. 3: Boudin kolaches at Shipley's

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Location Info

Xuco Xicana

2416 Brazos St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

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