If there’s one thing white people love, it’s authentic cuisine. I’m no different. I could walk into any bodega or tortilleria in Upper Fells Point and have the most disgusting pot of Cow Face Stew ever seen, but since it’s authentic I’ll eat it with a big ol’ smile and stumble on my Freshman Year Spanish and say something to the effect of “Mooee Buano!” while removing a whisker from my veneers, then vomiting quietly into my gigantic glass of iced tea. Fortunately for the Authentic Cuisine Enthusiast (ACE) in you, there’s Highlandtown’s La Sirenita (3928 Eastern Ave). To put it succinctly, this place rules.
Let’s start with the centerpiece of the dining area:
It’s a giant mermaid, obviously. A giant mermaid on top of a giant fake aquatic shrine or something, and the rest of the place is brightly as well as similarly decorated. The bar is fashioned in your usual wood-meets-spanish-tiles affair, nothing fancy to be sure, but who really cares because literally everything else about this place is pretty great.
$2 beers. Heavy pours on all alcohol. Friendly, vivacious service and telenovelas on the screens – and then we peep at the menu. Lengua tacos? Check. Pork belly tacos? Yeah. All under $9? Yup. The whole table was encouraged to try the sopes, which were piled high with toppings of choice on extremely lightly (but filling) fried homemade tortillas, very excellent stuff. I decided to go for the gold and try the seafood stew ($15), which you’ll see pictured here on this computer screen:
So essentially, for $15 you get a bowl of stew that could feed 6 people fairly easily, literally overloaded with huge chunks of vegetables, scallops, squid, baby octopus, oysters, shrimp, and a whole blue crab. The blue crab was mush and inedible, but it imparted its seafoody goodness to the broth which you could probably drink all on its own. This was not a gourmet meal, but for the price you’d be utterly insane to not skip on El Salto (sorry, but it’s true) and give this place a once over, you’ll be glad you did.