After surviving a night at Nadine's friend's place, we took a second tour of Laguna, exploring both the hills and the beach. Nadine's friend was a photographer, so he knew some of the best views in town. We even went over to Dana Point--just south of Laguna Beach. The Dana Point Harbor was beautiful and made me want to relocate from NYC.
We then returned to Laguna for lunch at La Sirena Grill for some Mexican fare. Southern California is known for awesome Mexican food plus our host said La Sirena was one of his favorite spots to eat. La Sirena is a serves Contemporary-Mexican cuisine in a casual, rustic atmosphere. The concept behind La Sirena is rather simple--high quality food of a fine dining restaurant with the speed of a fast-food eatery. Although the concept is simple, its not always easy to execute; but La Sirena Grill does a fantastic job of bringing fresh, high quality food in a fast fashion. Not only does La Sirena fulfill their concept statement, but they go beyond by going "green".
La Sirena Grill uses all organic and sustainable products from local, independent family farms. Its kind of remarkable for a QSR to use free range chickens, wild salmon, organic greens, organic milk, etc. La Sirena also uses biodegradable and recyclable paper products. Going "green" is a risky proposition as the cost can double or triple, if not more; but the payoff for La Sirena has paid off as they are currently expanding.
Like any good mexican establishment, La Sirena Grill offers a wide variety of burritos, quesadillas, tacos, tortas, enchiladas, salads, and soup. I went with the carnitas burrito and I'm craving one just thinking about good it was. I remember eating it and not feeling bad about it afterwards. Sometimes Mexican joints could use suspect product to cut costs, but La Sirena used fresh, high quality ingredients just as they say in their concept statement.
We took our burritos to the beach and enjoyed a nice little picnic while the waves crashed and sun shined. It was a great ending to our time in Laguna Beach. Our dining adventures in Laguna were awesome and reason enough to visit again although the beautiful beach doesn't hurt! I would definitely recommend checking out La Sirena Grill--even Chipotle would be jealous.
We then headed up to LA for our final two days. We spent the first night in Santa Monica and had dinner at Manchego, a sexy BYOB spot on Main St. Manchego served Spanish cuisine with a wide variety of hot and cold tapas. Its a great date spot, especially because its BYOB and will save you some dough. Just make sure you get there early because its a small eatery hosting around 13 tables.
The only thing I didn't like about Manchego was their lack of wine glasses. They poured your wine in little water glasses you would find at diners. I'm not pretentious, but I do believe drinking out of a wine glass enhances the flavor of the wine. Maybe they had wine glasses, but our server forgot? Who knows?
We got a variety of tapas and they were all pretty good. Nothing really stood out, but everything was good and reasonably priced. I would probably recommend Manchego although it was one of my least favorite dining experiences of California.