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La Vida Vegan: A Sea of Greens

A seafood spot with more than fish on the menu.


Photo By Sam Wells

The Dishes
Seasonal Empanadas, Mushroom Taco, and Cauliflower Ceviche

The Spot
1901 Columbia Street

When you follow a particular diet, you have to be ever the discerning diner, and when I walked into Sirena, a Latin-style seafood restaurant located in Little Italy just a block from the hype of India Street, I had to investigate if there were any plant-based options at all. Much to my surprise, one of the chefs is a passionate vegan committed to creating innovative, seafood-inspired vegan dishes.

Two appetizers, two salads, and two entrées on the menu are already vegan, and the staff informed me that a few others could also be veganized upon request. Instead of committing to one large entrée, I opted for three small dishes: a citrus mushroom taco served in a housemade tortilla with carrot aioli, a yellow pepper and roasted garlic empanada with a housemade pastry dough, and a raw cauliflower ceviche with avocado marinated in a green tomatillo sauce.

Everything was delicious and reminiscent of Crossroads in L.A., one of the best vegan restaurants I have ever tried. The plating was beautiful, and the flavors paid tribute to traditional seafood—fresh, herbal, citrusy.

The restaurant has a family feel, with the chefs running food to the tables and explaining each component of the dishes in detail. The menu may be seafood, but it’s the kind of place a vegan could sit and stay a while.

TIP: Save room for dessert. The divine raw carrot cake is served with cashew-lemon frosting and a scoop of orange sorbet. It’s the best vegan dessert I have tried in San Diego.

Click here for a full review of Sirena.

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