One thing I hate most when I travel is being stuck in a touristy area and being forced to eat expensive but not very good food. Of course, it’s usually my fault that this happens – it’s the curse of being someone who’s naturally not organized, someone who doesn’t plan. I still remember being stuck in Times Square, looking around frantically, seeing only places like the Olive Garden, that huge McDonalds, and other loud places that just did not look promising at all.  If only I had known at the time that this place was just a short jaunt away.

But I digress.  This post is about DC, not New York.

We visited the nation’s capital over Easter/Cherry Blossom weekend (talk about crowded!). We had just visited the White House (which looks stunning at night!), and were hungry for a bite to eat. Unlike that sad, unfortunately time in New York, this time I had the help of locals. A friend who had worked in DC recommended Ceiba, saying it was her favorite Latin restaurant in DC. Better yet, it was just a short walk from the White House, perfect for tourists who like good food!
Ceiba is a modern Latin restaurant that focuses on cuisine from the Yucatan region of Mexico (Vera Cruz and Cancun), Brazil (Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro), Peru, and Cuba. The space is trendy, the architecture is beautiful, and the food is really enjoyable.
Walk in, and you’ll see a nice, airy lobby with plenty of seats in the waiting area. We were having dinner early on a Thursday evening (around 6pm), but I could totally see this place filling up on a weekend.
A cool trendy bar appears on the left as you walk over to the dining area.
Guacamole at Ceiba
Guacamole de Mocajete
Mocajete is a stone bowl that is typically used in a Mexican kitchen for grinding spices or making sauces.  In this case, the waiter mashes your guacamole table side.
We got the Ceviche Sample, a great way to try all of their ceviches. Each of these individually costs $10, but you can get the sampler for $16, which is what we got. All of the seafood was extremely fresh. I really enjoyed this appetizer.

Yucatan Shrimp Ceviche (Pico de Gallo, Avocado, Crisp Corn Tortillas)
Wild Striped Bass Ceviche (Spicy Rocoto Chili, Sweet Potato, Toasted Peruvian Corn)
Yellowfin Tuna Ceviche (Cucumber, Mango, Jicama, Aji Amarillo Lime Dressing, Crushed Cashews) Peruvian Cevichee “Clasico” (Fresh Lime Juice, Red Onion, Cilantro, Aji Picante)
Dos Equis Beer Steamed Mussels ($15)
Mexican Chorizo, Sofrito, Warm Garlic Bread
Whole Crispy Red Snapper ($27)
Tomato Sofrito, Manzanilla Olives, Capers, Pickled Jalapenos
The waitress highly recommended this dish, so Bryan decided to order it. The flavors are fantastic, but if you don’t like having your dinner stare at you all night, you might not want to order this.
Moqueca Bahiana Brazilian Seafood Stew ($28)
Rock Lobster, Prawns, Calamari, Mussels, Traditional Accompaniments
We love moquecas, and we love how we can get them all the time in Cambridge for what seems like a steal (especially compared to this place).  This moqueca is made “Bahiana”-style, which had the added ingredient of coconut milk.  Nice seafood flavors, well executed.
Slow Braised Pork Shank “Feijoada” ($26)
Black Beans, Collard Greens, Rice, Traditional Accompaniments
This pork shank was fall-off-the-bone soft and really good. Bryan’s dad was very pleased with this dish.  Originally Portuguese in origin, the feijoada is the national dish in Brazil, and is a stew of beans with pork or beef.  I must concede that the feijoada here is a lot better than the one I had at Muqueca in Cambridge, although it’s a slightly unfair comparison as this one costs over twice as much.
Maryland Style Crabcakes with Sweet Potato Home Fries ($15?)
I got the crabcakes. I loved the accompanying side (the sweet potato home fries), although I thought the crabcakes were only OK, not as good as others I’ve had.

Overall Thoughts
This place has a great vibe, excellent food, and is in a super convenient location.  It’s a bit pricy, but then you have to consider that you are right in downtown DC, so you’re partly paying for that convenience. We had a great dinner there and would consider coming back again if we were in the area.  It sure beats random touristy food!

This post is part of a larger Washington DC Eats Series. Other posts in this series:
Granville Moore’s
Il Canale
Ben’s Chili Bowl

701 14th St NW
Washington, DC 20005
Ceiba on Urbanspoon

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  1. MegzJ says

    I’ve been to Ceiba, I enjoyed the service, but the food was a bit disappointing for the price. You can get *much* better in Annapolis, for a lot cheaper (which is saying something considering it’s Annapolis). BUT I do like how close Ceiba is to everything.

    Great review! :)

  2. jentinyurbankitchen says

    Thanks for the comment – yah, it’s hard to get out to Annapolis when you’re a tourist and you don’t have a car! And I agree about your comment about the prices, which is why I love having Muqueca in Cambridge so close by!

  3. MegzJ says

    Completely off topic (well, kind of) have you been to Meskerem restaurant on 18th street? Best Ethiopian restaurant I’ve been to and the prices are decent as well. Each time I’ve been there the food has been perfect, and the service was really kind.

    I’m a bit “frugal” when it comes to eating out. It comes from living on a student budget for too much of my life. Anyway, try Meskerem next time you’re in DC, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

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