Cheap Eats 2011: La Sirenita

The black plastic plates, the picnic utensils–they’re gone, replaced by china on woven placemats and real cutlery. But the cooking at Emma Perez’s place has always bespoken these sorts of refinements. Her kitchen executes her multi-page menu with confidence and consistency, as adept with surf–a beautiful and delicious lime-marinated tilapia fanned atop a red-pepper sauce, a ceviche that’s among the area’s best–as with turf. Grilled beef hearts amount to a cheap steak dinner, and the weekend-only ají de gallina, shredded chicken in a creamy sauce of eggs, olives, and milk, achieves a certain alchemy when mixed with its side of rice.

Even if you’re stuffed, you can’t leave without a bite of Perez’s homemade alfajores–anise shortbread cookies filled with caramel. Sublime.

Also good: Ceviche; Cubano sandwich; papa rellena, mounds of potato stuffed with seasoned meat; causa, rounds of soft-cooked potato with chicken salad or shrimp and avocado; fried whole trout.

Open Monday through Saturday for lunch and dinner, Sunday for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

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Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Logan Circle.