Limon – San Francisco, CA

+We originally had reservations to another top dining venue, Cotogna, but our reservations were mysteriously canceled! Luckily for us, A managed to snag us a reservation at Limon, and we were more than happy to try it out.

My very first Peruvian food experience! Limon has been around since 2002 and has continued to be one of the top trendy places for good food and cocktails. It has been featured in food guides, most popular being the Michelin Guide and San Francisco Chronicles Top 100 and more. It is all about family style eating; lots of tapas style dishes and alcoholic beverages. Limon also haa a sister restaurant called Limon Rotisserie, which features Peruvian Open Flame grilled chicken and similar tapas style dishes.

Place is packed at 8:45pm on a Saturday so reservations are highly recommended. It is not a big place and does get a little loud as the night progressed.

Menu is a short one pager. You would think it would be easy to decide with less choices but everything looked so appealing!

Drinks menu was pretty extensive though; with cocktails, wine and hi balls.

Dessert options

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We ordered:

Ceviche Nikkei $10.75

Ahi tuna marinated in soy sauce infused leche de tigre, toasted sesame seeds, shredded nori & celery

Massive portion! Large slices of ahi tuna that is almost the size of what you get in sashimi form at Japanese restaurants. The exterior of the fish was barely cooked from the citrusy marinade that is rich and tangy. Overall, the dish was very fresh and light but a little underseasoned.

To be honest, I was expecting small cuts of fish that is marinated longer so it is more cooked. The tuna in this dish was too large and so still very much raw and so way too reminiscent of tuna tartare more than ceviche. . I think it was a mistake to order this AND the tuna tartare, which texturally & flavour-wise almost like the same dish but with different accompaniments.

The Choclo (Peruvian corn) was very interesting. It looked like a giant mutated corn, had texture like corn BUT tasted like sweet potatoes on the inside. Weirdest mindblowing thing but I could not get enough of it.

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Empanada (Carne) $7.75

Crispy pastry dough filled with hand cut top sirloin, onions, tomatoes & finished with hard boiled eggs & raisins

It doesnt look so appealing but it was delicious! Best dish of the evening in my opinion. Not cheap considering two little pieces for $8 but quite worth it. The pastry was crispy, buttery and soft in the centre. The braised meat filling was salty and a little sweet.. so rich and meaty. I doubt there is any egg in it but the sauce on the side seems to be made with egg yolks because of the distinct flavour. I liked it without the sauce and it was nice with as well.

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Tartara de Tuna $7.95

Ahi tuna tartare with roasted peppers, pine nuts and sesame seed oil served with potato chips

Flavours are too similar to the Ceviche Nikkei but better seasoned, less saucy and served with good crispy fried potato chips. I appreciate that the sesame oil was very subtle almost absent, which allowed the fish itself to shine. It is also less tangy and had hints of sweetness which is unlike the Ceviche Nikkei.

The tuna was cut into small even pieces and were fresh and firm.

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Pescado Limon $10

Snapper fillet over crispy potatoes and spinach

This is one of the top dishes. Very good and fresh snapper deep fried with a light crispy crust, so the fish was the star. I can’t identify what it is coated with but it was so light and subtle. Loved the tangy sauce it is served with which complemented the lightly seasoned fish nicely. The potatoes were supposed to be crispy but they were not, more like pan fried instead of deep fried. I enjoyed the spinach and veggie combination but didn’t care much for the potatoes.

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Arroz con Mariscos $19

Peruvian style paella made of saffron rice, mixture of seafood, spicy pimento sauce and roasted red peppers

The seafood paella was the most disappointing. The rice was a little blah – very reminiscent of Uncle Ben’s instant rice. It was dry and lacking. The dish was quite underseasoned and the rice did not absorb much of the flavours. I think if it had more of the pimento sauce, the dish would be brought up a level because the parts with the sauce was quite good.

The seafood was a hit and miss. Some pieces were way overcooked and rubbery while others were quite tender and sweet.

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Lomo Saltado $17

Traditional Peruvian style stir fry of sirloin strips, onions, tomatoes, cilantro, soy sauce & garlic, served with fries and rice

The sirloin had a very distinct smoky flavour that I can’t identify, it was tangy and salty with some sweetness from the onions and tomatoes. The beef was very tender and cooked just right. It was very good and even better with the white rice. The rice was a tad gummy but still good. The french fries was kinda out of place in the dish…

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Extras:

Divina Passion (Pisco, Passion Fruit, Lime Juice & Mint leaves) $9 – Delicious! So citrusy, refreshing and quite potent.
Coke $2.50
Chardonnay $9

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Total Damage: $120 (including tax & tip)

Personal Rating: 3.5 out of 5 (Very good)

The food was great; some items better than others but overall pretty darn good. They were all fresh and top notch quality. Not the best value for money because portions are not massive but the quality makes up for the lack of quantity.

Service was excellent! We had reservations and got seated promptly. They ran out of menus and were quite apologetic about it but we were out for a nice relax night so we had all the time in the world. After ordering, food streamed out steadily. Our server was personable and pretty knwledgeable bout the menu. When a couple left for the washroom, another guy swiftly came over and folded their napkins daftly. Water was refilled constantly.

All in all, great place for a night of good conversation, drinks and plates of food to share.

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Limon

524 Valencia St
San Francisco, CA 94110

(415) 252 0918

Limon on Urbanspoon

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