With its low self-esteem and high urban blight, Hartford is the ultimate underdog city. Sad City Hartford documents the joys, sorrows and eccentricities of New England's Rising Star.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Another El Mercado Gem

Last week when we wrote about our travels to Philly and the awesomeness of the Reading Terminal Market, we opined that every city should be so lucky to have such an incredible market. While it has been well documented that Sad City is a huge fan of El Mercado on Park Street, we aren't going to get all Hartford cheerleader silly and claim that El Mercado is anywhere on par with the Reading Terminal Market, but it's adding more great restaurants and is really a great place to get Latino food.

While most of our dining at El Mercado has been at the Mexican restaurant with the occasional stop at the Dominican restaurant, we had noticed that El Mercado has added a Peruvian and Columbian restaurant. This weekend we tried out the fairly new Peruvian restaurant Autentico Sabor Peruano (Authentic Peruvian Flavor). It's an impressive and varied menu but one item in particular made our decision a no-brainer; ceviche.

For those not familiar, ceviche is raw fish marinated in lime juice. It's probably not for everyone and there are plenty of other cooked dishes on the menu, but at Sad City, we almost universally believe that if it came out of the water, it should be served as close to raw as possible. If you like fish, the ceviche is a great choice. We ordered our ceviche with everything, fish, shrimp, and calamari. The heaping plate came out in about fifteen minutes with vegetables and a side that looked like beans but tasted more like nuts.

The ceviche was great. If we had one regret it was adding the shrimp and not just going with the straight fish ceviche. Shrimp cocktail is all well and good, but as far as seafood goes we tend to find shrimp to be a bit overrated. Overall it was a great dish and we love the fact that we can grab some ceviche for lunch right on Park Street. Entrees at Autentico Sabor Peruano run from $9 to $15 and all the food we saw come out was served with heaping servings of sides. In addition to ceviche there are a handful of different chicken and beef entrees. Autentico Sabor Peruano also delivers all over Hartford.

As a bonus to the afternoon we were met on our way out of El Mercado by some young ladies selling pastries to raise money for a women's shelter. For a mere $5 we got a tin full of delicious cream cheese filled pastries that we are snacking on as we type. We were told what they were called but we already forgot (aging man, aging). Whatever they are, they are good. Another great El Mercado journey. El Mercado is located at 704 Park on the corner of Babcock.

For Sad City's Guide To Mexican Food click here.

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