The city of Trujillo is a great place for food. It’s also a great place for ceviche.
So when I started wandering around asking the locals for their cevicheria recommendations, I was certain I’d find something fairly special. But I’m kind of tightfisted, so my search was dependent on certain criteria: I wanted a cevicheria that was affordable, relatively low-key and frequented by your average trujillano.
And while Trujillo’s attractive historic center has its fair share of acclaimed cevicherias, I was looking for a place that wouldn’t make a backpacker’s budget tremble in fear.
Recommending Don Rulo
I asked a few taxi drivers, men who always like to talk about Peruvian food. I asked staff at the Hotel Colonial; I asked the incredibly old caretaker at Trujillo’s Museo de Zoología; I asked a policeman in the Plaza de Armas.
And the locals recommended one cevicheria more frequently than any other: Don Rulo, a place outside the historic center that, they all agreed, would be just what I was looking for.
Interest piqued and stomach growling, my wife and I set off for the Santa Inés neighborhood, where we soon tracked down the fabled Don Rulo, a blocky building with metal gates and a faded sign. It looked kind of like a daycare center for four-year-old criminals (it was also a particularly grey day in the City of Eternal Spring, which didn’t help matters). Not exactly inviting, but looks can be very deceiving, especially where Peruvian restaurants are concerned.
Inside, waiters waited as midday diners sat hunched over large plates, the air full of the distinct and mouthwatering aroma of a Peruvian cevicheria in full swing. There was some serious eating going on, that was for sure, and talking was at a minimum.
We went up to the second floor where a friendly and efficient waiter saw us seated and took our order. The cancha arrived quickly, fresh and warm and tasty, always an important indicator of a good cevicheria.
Fresh, Flavorful and Flippin’ Huge
Being a far more gluttonous type than my Peruvian wife, I ordered the jalea, a dish of lightly battered or breaded seafood that happens to be one of my all-time favorites when done correctly and one of my all-time disappointments when done wrong. A risk worth taking.
My wife’s ceviche simple arrived first, as it always does, and it was obvious from the first bite that we had come to the right place. The simplicity of a simple ceviche honors those who know how to prepare it to perfection. And at Don Rulo, they know.
Freshness, balance, color, care. It was all there, and it was good.
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Then the big boy arrived: a heaped jalea that made my stomach smile. And while my wife’s ceviche sat like a testament to healthy eating, my jalea simply laughed at the notion.
A whole fish lay on my plate, dwarfed by the mountain of battered seafood that sat beside it. A second, normal-sized plate held the accompanying salad, almost a meal on its own.
Now, it’s not uncommon for a jalea to have all the aesthetic grace of an aged adobe brick. But looks be damned, the keys to a good jalea are the quality of the batter or breading, the variety of the seafood and the freshness of the ingredients.
And once again, the chefs at Don Rulo know exactly what they’re doing.
As for my initial criteria, all boxes were ticked. The ambiance was local and non-pretentious, and the prices were more than fair. For a ceviche simple, a huge jalea that could easily serve two, and a large jug of fresh fruit juice, the total bill came to just S/.42 ($15).
Don Rulo Details:
- Address: Las Gemas 181, Urbanización Santa Inés, Trujillo, La Libertad (there is a second Don Rulo at Calle Cristal 248, Urb. San Isidro)
- Phone: 044-475587
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: www.donrulo.com
- Sample prices: ceviche simple S/.10 or S/.15; jalea S/.23; picante de mariscos S/.14; chupe de mariscos S/.14; cau cau de langostino S/.25