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La Sirenita's Cheap, No-Frills Mexican Food in Alberta Arts and Sellwood

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La Sirenita's Cheap, No-Frills Mexican Food in Alberta Arts and Sellwood

La Sirenita's Alberta Arts District location. ©Joshua Liberles

Joshua Liberles

Oodles of Options if You Want Burritos or Tacos

In my experience, the best Mexican food comes from hole-in-the-wall locations where you order at the counter, and the staff pays more attention to the food than a cutesy ambience. That's certainly the case with both of La Sirenita's locations -- one on NE Alberta St in the Alberta Arts District, and the more recent addition in Sellwood. Tacos and burritos are the name of the game here, and whether you're adventurous enough to eat them or not, menu items such as lengua (tongue), cabeza (meat from a cow head) and tripe lend an accurate air of authenticity the the restaurants.

The fish tacos, posole (a hominy pork stew) and wet burritos (burritos smothered in enchilada sauce) are among the fan favorites, but there's a huge assortment of possibilities. The burrito list alone has over 25 varieties, with plenty of customization available. Burrito prices range from $4.25 to $6.50, and they're all enormous -- maybe even big enough to share, if you can exercise that much discipline. The California Burrito has become the stuff of legend among Portlanders, especially among San Diego transplants who were previously unable to find this rather particular creation in their adopted home. It consists of carne asada, french fries, gaucamole, pico de gallo and sour cream tightly wrapped into a burrito, and it's only available at the Sellwood location.

The tacos are super cheap too -- ranging from $1.50 to $1.75 each with 13 varieties regularly on the menu, including pastor (marinated pork), asada, tinga (spicy chicken) and the aforementioned fish, lengua, cabeza and tripe. Marinated carrots await hungry patrons as an appetizer, of sorts, but the meals come out quickly, and the salsa bar gives plenty of flavoring options.

If you're a fan of guacamole -- and who isn't? -- a side is just a buck and is solid, although not fabulous.

I'm an horchata (a sweetened rice milk drink with cinnamon) nut, and La Sirenita's is homemade and great -- the perfect way to cut through the spice.

La Sirenita's tasty, huge burritos, with grilled tortillas that complete the package's texture and consistency. ©Joshua Liberles

Joshua Liberles

La Sirenita Breakdown


  • The burritos' tortillas are grilled, giving them a great consistency.

  • Inexpensive menu and plentiful servings

  • Lots of options, the ability to customize and mix and match, and quick service

  • Great home made horchata and aguas frescas


  • Low frills -- which is just fine, but you won't impress your date

  • The famous California Burrito is only available in the Sellwood location -- but look out for specials at both restaurants.

  • There's no website -- so you'll have to search yourself, or pick up the phone.

La Sirenita's Basics:

  • La Sirenita is located on NE Alberta St in the Alberta Arts District and on SE 17th in the Sellwood-Moreland neighborhood.

  • Getting to the NE Alberta St La Sirenita location: If driving from downtown, take the Alberta Street exit off of I-5 and turn right onto NE Alberta. Also, NE 33rd and NE MLK are two streets that provide good access to Alberta from the north or south. The 8, 9 and 10 bus routes access Alberta, or you can bike up one of the several bike boulevards that serve the area.

    Getting to the Sellwood La Sirenita location: Take SE Grand Ave / 99E to the south. Exit onto SE Milwaukee heading south, which turns into SE 17th. La Sirenita is at 8029 SE 17th. By bike, take the Springwater Corridor south, then head east on Spokane until you hit SE 17th.

  • Phone: Alberta: 503-335-8283 Sellwood: 503-234-3280

  • Cuisine: Inexpensive, order-at-the-counter Mexican food, including tacos, burritos and posole.

  • Average tab per diner: $6

  • Hours: Monday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-10 p.m.

  • All major credit cards accepted

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