New Peruvian hot spot
San Antonio fans of Peruvian cuisine will have a new reason to head to Southtown on February 24, when Leche de Tigre opens its doors to the public.
Offering authentic Peruvian ceviche, pisco, and eclectic music, the eatery takes its name (meaning “tiger’s milk”) from the milky liquid concentrate left over from the preparation of ceviche. The liquid concentrate is infused with colors and flavors of lime juice, hot peppers, salt, onion, to give it even more of a bite.
Brothers Emil, Axel, and Alec Oliva and their cousin Sebastian Montante are the brains behind Leche de Tigre. The concept comes from their shared desire to embrace and reflect their blended Peruvian heritage and Mexican roots.
Born in Laredo, Texas, to a Peruvian father and a Mexican mother, the Oliva siblings moved to Peru when Emil was 11 years old. They spent about eight years living and traveling there, and getting to know the local cuisine. The Olivas hope that Leche de Tigre will become a sort of hub for San Antonio’s Peruvian community.
"We want to be a little embassy for Peru here in San Antonio where they can gather, where they can get a little bit of back home,” Emil Oliva said, also noting the positive response they’ve already had from the Peruvian community since launching the restaurant’s Instagram a few months ahead of the opening.
Their food truck was originally destined for a new local food hall, but Montante’s real estate colleague found out about an available commercial property near the Southtown Flats off East Cevallos Street. From there, the group changed course and decided to develop a brick-and-mortar restaurant with Emil Oliva as chef, Axel Oliva as general manager, Alec Oliva managing the bar, and Montante handling administrative duties.
"San Antonio knows Mexican ceviche. I think what's going to stand out for us is that … Peruvian ceviche is a combination of the simplest ingredients,” Emil Oliva said. "But, if you take the freshest ingredients possible, you're able to make something really amazing."
Leche de Tigre’s small menu will feature 15 items, with eight on the ceviche bar. Aside from Peruvian sashimi plates and ceviche, they will serve traditional Peruvian dishes, such as lomo saltado, a Peruvian stir fry with a Chinese fusion along with Peruvian tapas.
The restaurant will also have a pisco bar featuring Peru's national brandy, a grape-distilled spirit whose origins date back to the 16th century. Many people enjoy pisco as an appetizer, and the beverage has long been believed to be both a hangover cure and an aphrodisiac.
"We'll specialize in Pisco, the first in the city. What we really want to do is highlight Pisco in a very exotic, mixology-forward way,” Emil Oliva said, noting how the restaurant will mix Peruvian and Mexican drink experiences.
"The restaurant is a representation of who we are as brothers and what we like," he adds. "From the music to the food to the bar, it's going to be something new for San Antonio."