In 1999, Scott Cortellessa opened the first of four La Sirena Grills in downtown Laguna Beach. His concept was fresh, sustainable, organic, homemade Mexican food and 17 years later La Sirena continues to build its loyal following. Rice and beans are organic; the salmon is wild not farmed; grass-fed beef and pork sans hormones and antibiotics...who knew Mexican food could taste so good without manteca?
The La Sirena Grill in South Laguna is across PCH from the Montage Resort and shares the parking lot with a Gelsons Supermarket. It sounds pretty fancy and pretentious, but walk into La Sirena and the vibe is laidback and neighborly, and yes, it seems like everyone knows each other's name. Especially the folks behind the bar, who are ready to serve up one of the 20 plus craft beers on tap.
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The rotating list of beers is full of some of Orange County's best and tastiest breweries: Noble Ale Works, Bottle Logic, Beachwood from the LBC and the Bruery. The bartenders know their brews and won't hesitate to offer a taster or two so you can make that crucial decision, IPA or Bourbon Barrel-aged Stout!
Here is where you can get a Trigger Finger IPA (7.3% ABV) from Artifex Brewing Co. in San Clemente, a good smooth IPA, hoppy but not bitter, with some fruit at the front and finishes clean (go visit Artifex's mother ship, stat!). La Sirena also carries Stone's Enjoy By 10.31.16 Tangerine IPA (9.4% ABV). The Enjoy By series sets the bar for all others; this particular one uses no less than 10 different hops. The liberal use of tangerines tones down the hoppiness, creating a smooth, Enjoy-able brew with no bitter aftertaste.
But the surprise was the Big Bad Baptist #51 Imperial/Double Stout Aged in Bourbon Barrels (12.3% ABV) offered by Epic Brewing Co. in Denver. This is also a continuing series—it's all its name implies and a bag of tortilla chips! The bourbon is at the front and ever so slight but it's there: chocolate, coffee, full flavor roastiness. Great job, La Sirena, and everyone: go visit and borracho!
La Sirena Grill, 30862 Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach, (949) 499-2301; www.lasirenagrill.com