INTERVIEW: Evan Marks – Director of The Ecology Center

As we gear up for a big Earth Day celebration at The Ecology Center this Saturday (April 14th, 10am), we decided to talk to the center’s founder and director Evan Marks.  Evan has lived a fascinating life (teaching permaculture in West Africa, running a farm in Costa Rica) and he was kind enough to share his eco-wisdom with us.  Please check out The Ecology Center‘s excellent, community-based programming on their website.  Better yet, learn more about them in person while munching on our farm-to-table veggie quesadilla this weekend!

If this is what a sustainable future looks like, we're in.

LSG: You’re using the phrase, “We are Earth Day” in marketing materials–How do you interpret that?

EM: The idea is to invoke a global perspective to our relationship to Earth and it’s appropriate celebration. We’re all here together, let’s all stand in recognition of everything this wonderful planet offers. Without it, we’re nothing. Didn’t you get all that from the materials?

LSG: Are there a few easy ways people can lessen their imprint in the coming year?

EM: At The Ecology Center, we really work towards inspiring practical ecological solutions– things everyone can do to make a difference. It adds up. Simple things like carrying a reusable water bottle, instead of a disposable one. Buying local organic food, from La Sirena Grill (or the farmers market). Riding your bike more often. If you’re ready for the next step, come visit The Ecology Center for ideas. This Saturday, April 14th, we’re creating an interactive pledge opportunity to make Earth Day everday.

LSG: What are things that you personally do at home? What are your green resolutions for the coming year?

EM: When we moved in, we pulled out the lawn and planted a native garden. Daily, we use a bucket to harvest our shower’s “greywater”,  the two gallons it takes to heat the water. We grow most of our food, so that makes cooking very enjoyable. We take good care to keep our home toxin free, by using good cleaning products, and keeping bad products and accessories out.

My personal mission for the year is to ride my bicycle more. The round trip commute is 15 miles, and I love it, I just need to do it more!

LSG: Tell us a little about the event: how many people do you expect? What are a few of the activities that we should look forward to?

EM: We’re expecting a big crowd. It’s open season at The Ecology Center and we expect hundreds of families. Highlights include; a special La Sirena Grill / The Ecology Center special, an interactive exploration of our facility through a scavenger hunt experience, an organic seedling sale, live bluegrass music, fort building, terrarium making, and much more!


Posted in Because, El Segundo, Fund raising, Green, Irvine, La Sirena Grill, Laguna Beach, South Laguna

Award Winning Lunch


Last Friday, guests had the chance to pair our Mauli Ola Foundation Award Winning Braised Shortrib Chili Verde Tacos with Black Market Brewing’s Rye IPA (2010 Great American Beer Fest Rye IPA gold medal winner).

How was it?

Well… We don’t want to brag. Forget that– this one time we specifically want to brag.  The meal was a hit.  

Read up on the very inspiring work done by the Mauli Ola Foundation here!  


Posted in Because

Beer Primer 101

You may have noticed that at LSG South we’re focusing a lot of energy on finding top-notch craft beers for the tap.  Which brings up the question: what the heck is a craft beer?

According to, a craft beer is a brewer that produces less than 6million barrels of beer per-year and isn’t more than 24% owned by a non-craft brewery.

Check out this video “I am a Craft Brewer” for more details.

Of course, that’s just the beginning of the beer conversation.  There’s a lot more to learn– luckily, that’s the fun part.

And how does one go about learning the difference between astringency, zymurgy and everything in between?  You can start by asking one of our bartenders.  The LSG South bar staff is excited about craft beers too and they’ll be happy to share their knowledge and steer you in the right direction.

Recently we asked Aaron Eslick–

This dashing rogue.

–for some reccommendations and he steered us toward:

Golden Chaos

Aaron's version of chaos theory

So what did we think of Aaron’s pick? We found it smooth, fruity with a hint of spice. A definite keeper and a perfect compliment to tortilla soup with a calamari burrito.

What are your favorite beers on tap at LSG South? What would you lie to see us bring in?

Posted in Because, Beer, La Sirena Grill, South Laguna | Tagged ,

The Green Iceberg

"Wait, what's this have to do with Mexican food?"

As Ernest Hemingway once said, “The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one-eighth of it being above water.” Papa was talking about writing– but we believe the line speaks to running a green restaurant too.

The taco was brave and showed grace under pressure...

If you really want to be green, if you’re committed to it, there are all sorts of decisions that will be made below the tip of the iceberg.  Many of the most environmentally conscious aspects of La Sirena are things that customers rarely get to know about.

Here’s an example:

We recently started using Whole Harvest Non-GMO Canola Oil for ALL of our frying.  This is a pretty big deal for a couple of reasons: 1) The whole Non-GMO thing (GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism…which isn’t really appetizing when we think of what we want to use to scoop guac) and 2) this oil is expeller pressed. Fine olive oils are often expeller pressed, but the canola oil that is used in deep fryers almost always comes from a process called Hexane extraction. Hexane is a neurotoxin and a petroleum by-product. It has also been proven to leave residual traces on foods after frying. So in short: hexane is basically as scary and malicious as the chupacabra.

How is nobody talking about this?

Our move to Whole Harvest Oil may not be noticed by many people.  But it is important–maybe one of the most important decisions we’ve made in the push to be sustainable. It’s not a choice that helps our bottom line, but it is most certainly the right choice for our restaurant and our customers.


In this article, The Cornucopia Institute calls Hexane “the dirty little secret of the natural foods industry.”

Learn more about GMOs at the Non-GMO Project.

This is where we now get our oil.

Posted in Because, El Segundo, Green, Irvine, La Sirena Grill, Laguna Beach, South Laguna | Tagged


Yesterday, at LSG Downtown Laguna, we saw Chef Ryan Adams of 370 Common waiting on a to-go order.  It’s not the first time, of course, but it’s always cool to know that a chef like Ryan, whose new restaurant has received raves from from the OC Register and Urban Spooners alike, eats at La Sirena before  dinner rush.

"I hope I remembered to order guac."

Ryan, thanks for coming by– congrats on your continued success & see you again soon!

Posted in Because

“It’s All Happening!”

"It's All Happening!"

That’s a quote from the movie Almost Famous—but it also goes a long way toward describing what we felt when we dropped by LSG South last Friday night.  Here’s what we saw:

  • A group of friends at the bar, trying out different craft beers, bantering with their bartender and throwing around words like “nutty” and “hoppy.”
  • A young couple tucked into a booth, clearly on a date. A date which we hope went well.
  • A La Sirena regular, eating calamari tacos and unwinding from a long day with our Margarita of the Month.
  • A couple of friends sitting at the counter high tables, chatting and keeping an eye on Sportscenter.
  • And a room full of other assorted merrymakers, diners and pineapple-tequila tasters.

In short, it was a fun night— and it made us feel like the vision we had for the LSG South redesign had finally come to fruition. It was definitely all happening.

It’s a dynamic space that offers our guests a lot of variety.  We’re glad you like it, we do too!

Russel and the Band

"Russell, these tacos are incendiary— incendiary."

Posted in Because, South Laguna | Tagged , , ,

What’s New at La Sirena South?

Short Answer: Pretty much everything except the food.

Burritos: Still got 'em

Slightly Longer Answer:

We Have More Seating! Are you with your family or part of an international collective of secret agents? Take a booth and enjoy the high-backed privacy.   Here to mingle? Pull up a seat at the counter. Want to drink in the sunset along with the last sips of your margarita? We’ve added more outside dining space just for you.

New Seats: Excellent for eating & drinking

We Have More to Drink! We know that for our adult patrons, beer and tacos go together like…margaritas and tacos.  So we’ve decided to offer expanded choices of both.  Similar to our food purchasing (which aims at supporting small farms) our beer selection is focused on micro-breweries.  For those looking for Dos Equis, we’d suggest B.P. Ale or the Mama Yella Pils—don’t worry Dos Equis loyalists, the Most Interesting Man in the World will be cool with it.  Also, be sure to try our margarita of the month and our selection of tequilas.

We’ve got Breakfast! For years we had friends and guests begging us to make breakfast—well it turns out they were onto something.  So we’ve started making breakfast and serving it at 7am daily.  Our huevos rancheros and breakfast burritos are so good, we have a feeling that your cereal and toaster waffles will be extremely lonely before long.

Dear Cereal: This means war

The Green (Dining) Room! The whole sustainability movement is a major passion for us. After endless hours of research we’ve chosen materials that we know fit our eco-philosophy.   Here’s what we’ve done: the counter seats were crafted out of our old dining tables, the wood on the walls comes from our managing partner’s roof[1], the wood behind the counter is recycled redwood fencing, the floor is polished concrete (no extra materials needed) and the countertop is quartz (certified by Green Seal™). There are other features that aren’t quite as noticeable: we’ve chosen to blow ocean air into the dining room instead of inefficient air-con, we’ve added a waterless urinal in the men’s bathroom and we’re using highly efficient LED lighting.

If you come to La Sirena South often, you’re probably of the mind that this is a pretty special place—we’re glad you think so, we value your company and we hope that you are as excited about the new look as we are.

[1] Don’t worry, he got a new roof.

Posted in Green, La Sirena Grill, South Laguna | Tagged , ,