Carne Asada taco from La Sirena Grill. (Jasmine Romero)
Review of a small Mexican restaurant blocks away from the beach.
Finding a restaurant that lives up to mama’s cooking is a tough feat. I am always on the look out for new Mexican restaurants to try. Southern California is booming with authentic and American based restaurants and La Sirena Grill was high up on my list.
La Sirena Grill has four different locations here in Southern California, but it all began a few blocks away from the ocean itself. Located in Laguna Beach, the original location can be easily mistaken for a cottage home on Mermaid street.
This Mexican-American restaurant strives on eating responsibly.
“Dishes are served fresh with grass-fed beef, organic and free-range chicken, all natural pork, sustainable seafood, organic greens and organic milk.”
The menu at La Sirena remains simple, featuring a standard entree with your choice of protein. Tacos, burritos, tortas, quesadillas, and nachos are all offered with either carne asada, chicken, carnitas, blackened salmon or fish, and grilled veggies.
Carne Asada taco, Calamari burrito, and Taquitos plate from La Sirena Grill. (Jasmine Romero)
Aside from that, the restaurant offers taquito and enchilada plates all served with organic rice and beans. As well as several salads, including their famous avocado and lime salad. Single tacos are priced around $3.95 while the other dishes range from $9-15.
Arriving at the restaurant you can’t help but notice its peculiar location, a tiny restaurant hidden among the cottages on Mermaid street. La Sirena makes an effort to stand out from the rest by attempting to embody a rustic vibe.
The restaurant appears relatively small, with barely enough room to walk in and order, let alone sit down and eat. The only seating arrangements are a few small tables outside on the sidewalk, with two hidden tables in the back. It was suddenly clear as I sat down to eat, that this particular restaurant was popular for taking food to go.
Horchata has a special place in my heart, and it is hard to find a Mexican restaurant that gets it just right. La Sirena’s horchata may just be one of my favorites. Unlike many others I’ve tried, this rice drink is not 90% water, but instead a perfect blend of organic milk, cinnamon, and rice.
The taquitos plate was also a favorite. Rice and pinto beans come alongside the chicken taquitos which are topped off with a generous amount of sour cream, guacamole and drizzled with fresh grated cheese. Each bite is crisp and flavorful, with the shredded chicken cooked just right.
Unfortunately I cannot say the same about the carne asada taco and calamari burrito. The carne asada taco was served cold with cabbage and salsa. While the meat was juicy and flavorful, it could not make up for the bland taste of the cabbage and tortilla. The taco still lacked flavor even after adding cilantro and onion, this taco was mediocre at best.
The calamari burrito, a local favorite, was a gooey mess. Do not get me wrong, I love calamari and I love burritos, but the two together just didn’t sit well with me. The burrito was filled with cabbage, jack cheese, guacamole, and pinto beans. The burrito did have flavor, but possibly a little too much. The calamari overpowered the rest of the ingredients, and the mushy texture of it all was not a pleasant one to eat.
La Sirena simply did not meet my expectations. This location has a few strong features and several flavorful dishes, but the price simply does not match the quality of the food.
I’ll take mamas cooking over La Sirena any day.