Boasting two distinctly different locations, La Sirena Grill was
originally conceived by enterprising Scott Cortellessa whose avid
dream in the summer of 1999 was to convert a charming little cottage
on tiny Mermaid Street Downtown, into a haven for contemporary
La Sirena, Spanish translation "the mermaid," emerged in June that
same year encompassing a miniature kitchen fronted by a small order
counter. Limited seating and a few tables directly outside the
elevated interior soon attracted guests who immediately caught onto
the fresh tastes and inviting aromas of the coveted Cortellessa
family recipes. The friendly place became an obvious favorite for
take-out ordering, and within months additional outside tables
allowed more guests to indulge their appetites on premises. Thus it
came as no small surprise when, within less than three years, a
second more expansive La Sirena Grill became a reality.
The newer venue in South Laguna will celebrate two successful
years next month, both sharing the identical bill of fare, a prime
reason for the success of the two deliciously inspired
Diverse dining categories start with a quartet of plates. Sirena
plates add up to half a dozen main ingredients accompanied with
grilled pasilla chiles, herb-marinated bell peppers, onions and
cheese topping fresh corn tortillas crowned with tangy pico de gallo.
While awaiting your order, it is fascinating to observe the cook
in colorful Mexican attire as she pats golden mounds of corn flour
into flat round discs. These tortillas will be contained with
blackened shrimp, carne asada, pork, fish, chicken or vegetarian
fillings of herb-marinated mushrooms, bell peppers, onions and cheese
grilled to perfection and priced from $6.95 to $9.25.
Enchilada plates, at $6.50 to $7.25, are two of these taste treats
with choice of similar fillings sided with black or pinto beans, rice
and red or green salsa. One may further enjoy taquito plates, a trio
of chicken taquitos for $7.50 (or $2 singularly) lavished with sour
cream, guacamole, queso fresco plus rice and beans. Taco plates
feature two each with rice and beans, $5.25 for pollo or carnitas,
$7.40 with blackened shrimp.
Salads are not to be missed. Based on exotic crisp greens, these
are generously laced with avocado, cucumber, tomato, a crunchy
scattering of fried onion bits and grated cheese under a savory
lime-cilantro dressing. At $6.25, the salads easily feed two hefty
appetites. For a dollar or so more, the addition of meat, chicken,
blackened salmon and shrimp turns this into a deliciously healthy
main course. A half order, moreover, makes for a satisfying preface
to any of the a la carte selection of tacos, tortas, burritos and
quesadillas, these from $l.85 to $3.
Equally enticing starters are spicy chicken soup garnished with
tortilla strips and jack cheese for $2.50, and corn tortilla soup at
$2.25 topped with pinto beans, cabbage, queso fresco and salsa. Add
carnitas or pollo for 50 cents more, blackened albacore or salmon
with pico and aioli for an added $3.25.
Help yourself, while waiting, to additional embellishments posed
at a little corner stand with take-out containers. Refreshing
beverages in 16 ounce containers are $1.50 to $1.75 -- the latter
for a delectable watermelon/strawberry drink and a luscious
cinnamon-spiced coconut milk concoction. Special entrees for kids are
$1.50 to $3.50.
Shoreline Restaurant, which debuted at the Holiday Inn late last
summer is undergoing extensive revamping of the sadly neglected
Courtyard Patio. It will now, once again, attract the many diners in
search of refreshing al fresco ambience. Owners Tom and Susan Winch
have promised a comfortable New Orleans-style setting ready for
breakfast, lunch, dinner enjoyment within the next few weeks. Phone
* Dining suggestions and questions may be e-mailed to
firstname.lastname@example.org or phone (949) 494-4710. Glori Fickling is a
longtime Laguna Beach resident who has written restaurant news and
views columns since 1966.