La Sirena Gorda Cabana has a much more lyrical lilt to it than its English translation: the fat mermaid’s hut. LSGC is a newcomer to Sanford’s dining scene, a charming little eatery with a funky decor and somewhat eclectic cuisine.
The menu is Mexican, or at least there are Mexican names, but the food that was produced was only vaguely identifiable as South of the Borderlike. Not that it wasn’t good — it was — it was just odd.
Take, for instance, the enchiladas, which were more like a Southwestern lasagna or some sort of Mexican pie concoction. I like lasagna. I like savory pies. I also like enchiladas, and have had a fair number of them over the years, but none were like these.
The tomatillo pie, on the other hand, looked for all the world like a quiche. Nice crust, eggy filling, but not much else to recommend it. It was, however, served with a lovely salad of mesclun greens topped with diced tomatoes, onions and shredded cheese and tossed in a vinaigrette.
The chili rellenos, on the other hand, looked and tasted exactly like a stuffed chile pepper should, and it was a pretty darned good one, too. Though it was rather on the smallish side – not enough to make a sirena gorda – it had chicken and cheese inside a mildly seasoned green chile. The yellow rice that was served with it was ho-hum; so, too, the refried beans.
The tacos that one of my guests ordered were a trial. Ordered in hard shells, they were first delivered in soft tortillas. Then, after apologies and a redeliver, it was discovered that they contained the sour cream that my guest had requested be omitted. Eventually the order was righted. The tacos were filled — though not filled entirely — with beef plus some shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes and accompanied by salsa. Hard-shell tacos are not my favorite — I was actually relieved when the soft tacos were mistakenly delivered — so I can’t really fault them at face value. I can at real value: $10 for three tacos seemed dear.
I liked our server very much. She had a cheery demeanor and despite the missteps was friendly and, when needed, sufficiently apologetic.
The decor is a winner, too. Well, except for the Day-of-the-Dead skulls strewn here and there. But the clean tablecloths, bright colors, swaths of fabric draped along the ceiling, and the bar that dominates the small dining room all lend to the casual, comfortable atmosphere.
I don’t know why an ostensibly Mexican restaurant would be named after a corpulent sea myth — there was a legend of some sort in front of the restaurant, but I didn’t read it; I’m not fond of legends.
La Sirena Gorda Cabana is at 118 S. Palmetto Ave., Sanford. It is open for lunch and dinner daily. My chili rellenos was $16; the dish known as a beef enchilada was $12. There does not appear to be a website. The phone number is 407-391-3955 — it may be answered by a machine with a generic greeting, even during regular business hours.