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Sound the Sirens: La Sirena Clandestina is a Hit

La Sirena Clandestina has been on every foodie’s must-go list since opening its doors in the fall of 2012 – and for good reason. It has scooped up all sorts of accolades from otherwise-stodgy food critics and quickly became the dark horse of the Fulton Market. In sum, it’s South America meets the city of Chicago, 40 seats at a time. What’s not to love?

La Sirena Clandestina is a humble, corner-lot eatery situated just steps away from the not-so-humble abodes on restaurant row. In fact, it faces Grant Achatz’s The Aviary and is a block away from Stephanie Izard’s shops. But despite the big dogs, La Sirena Clandestina is making a solid name for itself for just being – well, cool.


Chef Manion

Chef Manion

Headed by Manion, the antithesis of a celebrity chef, La Sirena Clandestina features a mosaic-styled wooden floor with slats that were restored from old churches and other vintage venues. Undoubtedly, it’s this unique floor that contributes to the neighborhood, New York City village vibe not typically experienced in any of La Sirena’s neighbors.

The name, which translates to “clandestine siren,” pays homage to a handbill of Brigitte Bardot that’s slicked on the walls. Other than that, candlelight and lantern globes give the place a dark, mellow, at-home feel.

pinsManion’s menu is simple and straightforward, albeit with a South American flare stemming from the childhood chef’s roots. Fare is split between “La Calle” (street) and “La Casa” (home) options. From the La Calle menu, every day, they feature a selection of freshly-made empanadas, which get subbed out regularly based on Manion’s moods. The menu also features a catch-of-the-day, which – when we found out was a 2-pound red snapper deep fried with its head on – we went with. No regrets there.

The Menu

The Menu

Deep Fried Red Snapper

Deep Fried Red Snapper

The other can’t-misses are the shaved Brussels sprout salad, the garlic frites with spicy mayo, and the octopus salad. We also ordered the pork loin as an entrée, which was pounded flat, breaded, and served with a fried egg on top. Easy to share and mighty tasty.

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Pork loin with fried egg

Service was refreshingly friendly, as their wait staff was dressed casually and comfortably while still managing to take great care of the tables – even when it became a full house by 7pm. I especially enjoyed when a bartender noticed my garnish was starting to wilt and came by with a pair of tweezers to sub it out for something a little more lively. Attention to detail like that was unexpected, yet appreciated.

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Patrons range from hipsters to foodies to businessmen, all in search of neighborhood food and drink with an ethnic twinge. And speaking of drink, the cocktail program, run by the bearded Justin Anderson, is spot on. Cusco Cups, a hand-made Strawberry daiquiri, and traditional pisco sours found their ways to our tables. Not only where they all refreshing and tasty, they arguable paired better with the food than wine. Although, their wine list was certainly impressive as well.

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Surprise, surprise: La Sirena Clandestina does not accept reservations. They also fill up fast so getting in and seated by 6pm for dinner is your best bet on any night of the week.

Emily Belden

Emily Belden

everyone's favorite no-one | nerd trapped in a cool kid's body | writer, blogger | cooler online than in real life | doesn't come home to stuffed animals |

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