La Sirena Clandestina – West Loop, Chicago

April showers and chilly temps rolled into Chitown late yesterday afternoon.  Ugh!  Since I had been reminiscing about a particular warm and sunny South American vacation, I decided to keep those memories alive.  So, I hopped the CTA Green Line to La Sirena Clandestina in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood for some Brazilian fare.  

 

La Sirena Clandestina entrance

Corner of Morgan and W. Fulton Market

La Sirena Clandestina is located

just 1 block north of the Morgan ‘L’ stop.  A quicker and less expensive alternative to driving to O’hare for a flight to Rio 🙂  Take that rainy weather!

 

Morgan 'L' stop near La Sirena Clandestina

La Sirena Clandestina menu

La Sirena Clandestina (“The Secret Mermaid”)

Here’s how my solo dinner went down:

La Sirena’s menu is broken down into veggie, meat and seafood options each of which range from small to large plates.  While I love a good feijoada and other Brazilian meat dishes, I decided to take on some lighter fare in the way of seafood.  All the better to match my sunny, Summer mood.

I started off with ceviche of shrimp, squid and mahi mahi which was a hearty yet bright dish.  The flavors hit several notes on my tongue: sweet, salty, smoky, hot, citrusy. There was a tomato-horseradish mojo and a thoughtful bit of guacamole in the mix, The salty crackers which came with it were crunchy and light but not too light as to be crushed under the weight the fish.  I loved the heat of the radishes and chilis.  I am always surprised by how satisfying a well-executed ceviche can be.  That said, it was my first time dining at La Sirena Clandestina.  So, I decided to order another dish, you know, for research 😉

 

La Sirena Clandestina ceviche

Ceviche of shrimp, squid, fish, chilis, smoky tomato, guacamole, salted crackers

La Sirena Clandestina seafood ceviche

Ceviche with squid, shrimp, fish, chilis, smoky tomato, guacamole, radishes, crackers

Next up, I ordered the whole branzino with a chili and peanut sauce.  Brazilian cooking is known for incorporating a lot of nuts.  Sometimes peanuts.  Sometimes cashews.  They can be sprinkled on top of a dish or emulsified in a sauce to add texture.  Love it.

 

La Sirena Clandestina whole branzino

Whole branzino with peanuts, chilis, etc.

La Sirena Clandestina branzino

 

Next, I was treated to one of La Sirena’s empanada specials.  If you’ve read my blog before, then you may know that soup is my favorite food group.  The empanada presented to me was a mix of caramelized onions and Gruyere cheese.  I am certain I tasted some white wine in the background.  I would be surprised if I am wrong.  

If you love French onion soup, then you will love this empanada.  It tasted just like it. Freakin’ brilliant!  I could have eaten 3 more of them.

I washed it all down with a cucumber Margarita.  Lovely 🙂  However, you should note that La Sirena has a very delicious cocktail, beer and wine menu.  So, take your time perusing it for other more interesting options.

 

La Sirena Clandestina cucumber margarita

Super fresh cucumber Margarita

Last, but not least, I was treated to one of La Sirena’s alfajores.  Alfajores are typical Latin shortbread cookies which are filled with a variety of different spreads.  The one I enjoyed was a dulce de leche alfajore.  One small cookie packs a really big punch.  I will be back to try the rest of La Sirena’s dessert menu.

 

La Sirena Clandestina alfajore

Dulce de leche alfajore

The space at La Sirena Clandestina is tiny and open.  The restaurant sits on the sunny corner of W. Fulton Market and Morgan Streets.  It is a colorful and rustic spot.  Perfect for a rainy or sunny day.  Outdoor seating will extend around the restaurant as the weather warms up.  Yay!!

 

La Sirena Clandestina bar

La Sirena Clandestina seating

La Sirena Clandestina dining room

 

I want to give a big shout out to Chef John Manion and my server, Paige, for making my solo dining experience at La Sirena Clandestina a really special treat on this otherwise dreary day.  I cannot wait to return again for dinner or weekend brunch with friends.

 

La Sirena Clandestina mermaid photo

La Sirena Clandestina (“The Secret Mermaid”

La Sirena Clandestina is located at 954 W. Fulton Market.  For more information, visit www.lasirenachicago.com.

In keeping with the spirit of Feeding Off The Rails, I encourage you to leave your car at home and take the CTA Green Line to La Sirena Clandestina.  Save on gas. Avoid traffic, road rage and parking.  Reduce pollution. Don’t drink and drive!