Dining Out

Leche de Tigre

Peruvian Cebiche and Pisco in San Antonio

By: Veronica Meewes
Cebiche at Leche de Tigre
Images courtesy of Allysse Shank-Rivas

Emil Oliva spent most of his childhood growing up in Laredo before he and his younger brothers, Axel and Alec, relocated to his father’s native Peru. He had no idea how impactful his very first meal there would be.

“The first day we got to Lima, I was a little sad, as a teenage kid, but they took me out to a cebicheria,” he remembers. “After that first plate of cebiche, I thought to myself—OK, it’s going to be OK.”

interior at Leche de Tigre

Years later, back in the States, he sought out the best Peruvian food and noticed there was a real lack of it—particularly in San Antonio, where his family had settled. He and his brothers decided they wanted to open a restaurant together, so he spent the next decade working in the industry, starting in the front of house before moving up to management, corporate events, wine and spirit sales, and restaurant operations. He also spent summers in Peru, staging in the kitchen of restaurants like Nikko and Tanta. Meanwhile, Axel and Alec were gaining experience in the front of house at some of San Antonio’s top restaurants—Allora, Mon Chou Chou, and Signature.

“In a way, we wanted to play chess before we opened,” explains Emil. “We wanted to know each position and each area, work ourselves up to management, know the numbers, and learn everything that had to do with restaurants.”

The Oliva brothers opened Leche de Tigre in a converted bungalow in San Antonio’s Southtown last February. A massive, vibrant tiger mural stretches across the length of the restaurant, behind the tiled chef’s counter, in honor of the eponymous zingy marinade that is the lifeblood of Peru’s artfully composed cured fish dishes.

“Cebiche is the most emblematic dish of Peru, and it has evolved so much throughout the years,” says Emil, who helms the kitchen while Axel acts as general manager and Alec runs the bar program. “It’s so versatile; you can do so many things with it.”

They work with fresh fish and shellfish that’s flown in every day—from scallops and shrimp to yellowfin tuna and Spanish octopus—and source chiles straight from Peru, from ahi amarillo to ahi mirasol. In addition to cebiche and tiradito dishes, they serve some traditional Peruvian mains such as lomo saltado (tenderloin stir-fried with onion, tomatoes, and potatoes, then served over rice) and arroz chaufa (fried rice with Chinese sausage, pork belly, and veggies).

The bar program focuses heavily on cocktails made with pisco (Peruvian grape brandy) as well as agave spirits. The restaurant’s opening was met with an overwhelmingly positive reception from the city, and the dining room still fills nightly with no signs of slowing.

“I think San Antonio is an amazing, growing gastronomic city and people are constantly wanting to try new flavors and have new experiences,” says Emil. “The community has received us in an amazing way. I think that most people here knew about Peruvian cuisine—they were just waiting for somebody to do it.”

Can’t Miss at Leche de Tigre

a yellow drink and cebiche dish at Leche de Tigre

Yellowfin Tuna Tataki

Seared and thin-sliced sashimi-grade yellow tuna nestled in a zesty orange leche de tigre, topped with pickled daikon and carrots, a peanut crumble, a drizzle of sesame oil, and a sprinkle of scallions.

Pulpo Anticuchero

Flame-kissed grilled octopus tentacle drizzled with bright-green chimichurri and purple olive sauce, accompanied by pan-fried Andean potatoes and crunchy pan-seared choclo (large-kernel Peruvian corn).

Pie de Maracuya

A creamy passionfruit pie inspired by its key lime cohort, topped with a juicy mixed berry compote.

Ayahuasca Sour

Made minty and herbaceous with huacatay (Peruvian black mint) syrup, then shaken to velvety foaming perfection with egg white and finished with a sprinkle of huacatay fairy dust.

about this restaurant

  • Chef

    Emil, Axel, and Alec Oliva

  • Address

    318 E Cevallos Street
    San Antonio, Texas

    • Peruvian

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