Open since October 2012, La Sirena Clandestina started out as corner joint that was an homage to the seaside restaurants in Brazil that Chef/Partner John Manion loved from his time growing up there. But over the years, the small restaurant meandered a bit from its original inspiration in an effort to try and adapt to the ever-changing West Loop neighborhood it called home. No more, says Manion. “I want to focus on La Sirena’s genesis: where we started, the philosophy and what we were doing,” he says. “We’re going back to what we do best.”
With that mission in mind, La Sirena has stopped serving lunch and weekend brunch, returning to its original schedule of dinner seven nights a week. Added bonus: There’s happy hour every night of the week too.
For the menu, Manion has added back in dishes that first caught diners’ attention years ago. That means you’ll now find both a meat-filled and vegetarian empanada on offer, rotating seasonally. After a brief hiatus, the grilled pork chops return and like many items on the concise menu their preparation adheres to a fuss-free approach: simply grilled and paired with a red chimichurri and green papaya salad. Chicken legs and thighs stars in the frango a passarinho, a Brazilian-style fried chicken that Manion often enjoyed when he lived there.
Seafood has a prominent place on the menu with head-on prawns served over a charred serrano salsa, whole fried fish topped with peanuts and a tomatillo-jalapeno hot sauce, and moqueca, the Brazilian seafood stew of prawns mussels and whitefish in a coconut and dende oil broth.
Red meat-lovers aren’t forgotten either with two options on offer, including picanha, a top sirloin cut prized in Brazil for its cap of luscious fat.
“A guest recently told me, ‘This is the food you want to get when you go on vacation to a coastal spot but never actually do,’” says Manion. “That’s exactly what we are aiming for.”