When award-winning chef and restaurateur Guillermo Pernot was serving ceviche 17 or so years ago, it was largely misunderstood.

“Nobody seemed to get it,” said Pernot, who is best known for bringing Nuevo Latino cuisine to Philadelphia with his now-defunct restaurant Pasion! “People didn’t seem to understand it.”

In 2001, Pernot even published a book on the classic South American dish of raw fish “cooked” in citrus juices, “Ceviche: Seafood, Salads and Cocktails with a Latino Twist,” but still it didn’t gain broad appeal.

Now, it seems diners and chefs alike are finally starting to get ceviche.

According to Datassential MenuTrends, ceviche appears on 26 percent more restaurant menus than it did in 2009. In addition, it’s among the fastest-growing appetizers, increasing 36 percent since 2009.

Though he no longer specializes in it, ceviche is on the menu and selling well at the four Cuba Libre Restaurant and Rum Bar units that Pernot oversees as executive chef and partner. “They get it. They enjoy it. [Ceviche] has gone mainstream,” said Pernot.

Among the many other restaurants across the country that have added ceviche of late is Zengo, a Latin-meets-Asian concept in Washington, D.C. Zengo’s menu typically features two types of ceviche, such as a bay scallop ceviche with Thai chili, peanut and mint, and a fluke ceviche with coconut, charred pineapple and basil. Diners can order from a table or sit at the sushi and ceviche bar and watch the chefs freshly marinate fish, shuck oysters and roll sushi.

“We’ve been doing it for a while based on the Latin theme of the restaurant,” said Graham Bartlett, regional executive chef for Richard Sandoval Restaurants, Zengo’s parent company. “We’ve definitely seen an increase in orders. It’s very popular.”

At the newly opened Luna Sur, a Latin fusion spot in New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen, chef Isaias Ortiz has a traditional Peruvian ceviche with scallops, octopus, shrimp and pollack marinated in lime juice, and has plans to add others once the restaurant gets settled in.

“So far they love it. Guacamole and ceviche are the most popular appetizers,” said Ortiz. “It’s the freshness.”