RESTAURANT BUZZ: Darwin's on 4th

By Megan McDonald January 26, 2012

Darwin's on 4th's menu features "urban street food with a Peruvian twist."

The new restaurant Darwin’s on 4th is only a few weeks old, but this past Wednesday, the dining room was abuzz with Sarasotans eager to try Chef Darwin Santa Maria’s Peruvian twist on “urban street food.”

Santa Maria is perhaps most well-known for his popular Selva Grill, which earned him local and national acclaim. He’s also the mind behind Siesta Key’s Cottage restaurant, which features a seafood-heavy menu (including his signature ceviche) in a laid-back, tropical setting. And he assures fans of his Peruvian-inspired fare that many of his signature dishes will appear on the Darwin’s on 4th menu. “The foods of my childhood will always be important to me,” he says.

Located in the building that was formerly home to Rustic Grill and the short-lived Mad Crow Brewery, Darwin’s on 4th is also the new home of an artisan brewery, with brewmaster Jared Barnes—a human encyclopedia of all things beer-related—crafting the restaurant’s signature beer menu. Menu items include crabcakes, skirt steak, short ribs, Peruvian fried rice with shrimp and duck, grilled duck breast with green pea risotto, pan-roasted cod and desserts like banana flan, crème brulee and lavender-poached pears with goat-cheese ice cream. Don’t skip the addictive plaintain chips with chimichurri sauce, either, or Santa Maria’s spin on a traditional popover.  And if you want to try whipping up some Darwin’s on 4th-inspired food of your own, you’ll find a recipe for mixed ceviche below.

Darwin’s on 4th is located at 1525 Fourth St. in Sarasota's Rosemary District. Call (941) 343-2165 for reservations or visit

Mixed Ceviche

Chef Darwin Santa Maria

Serves 4

4 cups lime juice

3 cloves garlic

½ cup chopped red onion

2 Tbsp. chopped cilantro

3 stalks celery, coarsely chopped

8 green mussels, cleaned and debearded

1 pound mahi-mahi, cubed

½-lb. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

2 cups tomato juice

1 Tbsp. chopped garlic

Place lime juice, 3 cloves garlic, red onion, cilantro and celery in the blender and blend until smooth. Toss with mussels, shrimp and mahi-mahi and marinate in refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Saute shrimp in tomato juice and garlic until cooked, then strain and place in refrigerator. When ready to serve, combine shrimp with the marinated seafood and divide onto individual serving plates.

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