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Las Vegas Cevicheria’s fresh tastes are skillfully prepared

Updated September 17, 2017 - 9:40 pm

Attention, ceviche lovers: There’s a new spot in Las Vegas just for you.

A cevicheria — a rarity in Las Vegas — specializes in ceviche, which is raw fish that’s been “cooked” in something acidic, usually lime juice. Most restaurants that serve ceviche offer one or two versions, but Cevicheria el Diamante, which opened early this spring, has eight, as well as three aguachiles (ceviches with the added spark of chile). One way to sample as many as possible is with the Tostada Platter ($19.99), which has four variations, each mounded on a crisply fried tortilla and arranged on a long platter.

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Kitchen manager Erik Esparza, center, delivers tostadas to Eliazar Marin, left, and Delia Holguin at Cevicheria El Diamante. Richard Brian Las Vegas Review-Journal

Crab ceviche was fresh and sweet, its richness balanced by lots of cilantro, and the tuna was tiny cubes of the fish, drizzled with a creamy chili-based sauce. There also were two kinds of shrimp, the standard chopped ceviche mixture that included bits of tomato, onion and cucumber along with the lime juice, and shrimp aguachile, two large prawns split and marinated in lime and a red sauce.

Choosing a favorite among the four was difficult because each treatment showed the seafood to advantage; the restaurant’s other ceviches include salmon and various other shrimp versions, even dried.

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The tostada platter at Cevicheria El Diamante. Richard Brian Las Vegas Review-Journal

Three Baja Fish Tacos ($11.99), on almost the opposite end of the spectrum from the cool astringency of the ceviches, were equally excellent. Hot, puffy-fried pieces of fish were cosseted in double-layered soft corn tortillas along with red cabbage, pico de gallo, a creamy dressing and herbs. They were gloppy and messy and worth every swipe of the paper towels provided on each table.

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The Baja fish tacos at Cevicheria El Diamante. Richard Brian Las Vegas Review-Journal

Since the kitchen clearly knows seafood, it wasn’t surprising that the garlic shrimp ($18.95) were plump, moist and kissed with lots of garlic. Also exemplary was the bowl of creamy, zingy mashed beans with two upended peppers in the center, and the ball of rice flecked with vegetables.

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Pelirojos spicy, a platter of oysters and shrimp served in agua chile sauce, served at Cevicheria El Diamante. Richard Brian Las Vegas Review-Journal

Cevicheria el Diamante is in a sprawling strip center on East Tropicana Avenue near Eastern Avenue but is right on the street for maximum visibility, and with its splashy signage, it’s hard to miss. The space is your basic strip-center hole-in-the-wall but decorated with a skill that defines creativity on a budget. It’s lively and bright, with rainbow-palette chairs and a whimsical and colorful fish mural.

A rack on each table holds multiple condiments (including the requisite hot sauces) and the paper towels on a quirky stand with faux faucet. A street-side patio’s furniture is carefully painted for a clean, streamlined look.

Service throughout was pleasant, although dishes were timed a little oddly. The tostadas, listed as appetizers, came out last, but that’s a quibble.

This is indeed a diamond, though not quite in the rough. With fresh, well-prepared ceviche and other fish dishes and an obvious obsession with detail, Cevicheria el Diamante lives up to both parts of its name.

If you go

■ Cevicheria el Diamante, 2457 E. Tropicana Ave.; 702-202-1157

■ The essence: Skillfully prepared ceviche and other seafood dishes in a colorful spot.

Las Vegas Review-Journal restaurant reviews are done anonymously at Review-Journal expense. Contact Heidi Knapp Rinella at Hrinell @reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0474. Follow @HKRinella on Twitter.

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