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Lauriol Plaza

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  • Mary Jan 13, 2005 11:29 AM
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Can anyone give me an opinion on Lauriol Plaza - the tex mex place near Dupont Circle? We read a restaurant review in the Washingtonian and we wanted to try it.

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  1. I'm not typically one to hate on restaurants that become overly popular, but this is one that has declined with its popularity in my opinion. The atmosphere is good if you want to throw back some margaritas in an extremely lively and bustling upscale hangout. The food almost seems to have become an afterthought. It's fine, in my opinion, but doesn't justify the price.

    On occasion, however, when the season is right, I will still go there and enjoy a margarita-sweetened lunch with friends on a Saturday out on the deck. It serves a limited purpose in my life...when I go, it is more often the result of being outvoted by my friends.

    Since it is something of an institution, it is worth going once if you haven't been. Form your own opinion...it's definitely not for everyone.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Lowbar

      I agree with Lowbar - it's certainly not terrible, and I've definitely enjoyed myself there on many occasions, but it's usually as part of a group and usually at someone else's suggestion. On a nice, warm night it can be ridiculously hectic and crowded, and I'll be shocked if you're greeted warmly by the hostess staff, but (esp. if you can get a spot on the roof and aren't expecting anything spectactular) it's definitely an enjoyable spot to down a couple of margaritas and munch on pretty good food. But it can get pricey, especially if you're with a group and don't watch what you're drinking.

    2. It's been several months, but I've always enjoyed it. Can't vouch for ethnic authenticity, but have had good Margaritas, fajitas, chilli relenos. etc.
      Usually very busy and somewhat hectic, but good service in spite of the chaos.
      I've always been outside -looked even wilder inside.

      1. Lauriol is more quasi-latin than tex-mex. The black beans are tolerable and the grilled meats tasty. The specialty drink is an over-sweetened margarita and there is a tremendous crush of humanity by six o'clock. The best move is to get there about five and get a table on the roof, as the din inside is nearly intolerable. They refuse to mix a mojito, which is a shame as it would be a nice antidote to the margaritas. You can only stand so many popsicles. The food in general is not bad, though.

        1. I don't dislike it as much as others, but it's halfway decent Mexican/Tex-Mex in an area where good Mexican is really hard to find. (And I'm picky about my Mexican food.) They are a sister restaurant to Cactus Cantina, if that is any help. The space is pleasant but the largest drawback is the crowds. Once you're in the food is fine and the atmosphere is enjoyable - if you're okay with noise.

          If you don't like the wait, head just a few blocks to the corner of 18th and Florida and you'll find El Tamarindo, which, while Salvadoran in origin, does a surprisingly good job with Mexican food in a much lower key environment.

          1. The food, tex-mex is heavy (heavy beans, lots of cheese, guac, sour cream, etc.) and portions are good-sized.

            We went last weekend as a party of 6 and shared
            one appetizer
            one fajitas for 2 people
            2 fajitas for 1 person (fajitas for 4 people total)
            and ended up walking away with tons of food on the table.

            There are many restaurants where entree splitting would both raise eyebrows and leave you hungry, LP is not one of them.

            1. Take Chevy's, up the prices a little, lower the quality a little, and tada, Lauriol Plaza.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Reece

                And crank the volume up to 11 as well, and add a 45 minute wait for a table on the weekend. But hey, if you just want to relax, have a bunch of margaritas, and start a fight with some clown screaming into his cellphone, this is THE place to be.

                1. re: Reece

                  Cruel, but true.

                  I've never understood Lauriol Plaza's popularity.

                2. So here's an update as to how our evening went. Was not impressed with the hostess. She said if our entire party was not there, they would not seat us. So we had to wait for all 10 of us to get together before we could be seated. The wait staff was great - handled our orders - even with all of us talking over one another. The food was good, atmostphere was good for us being a large crowd. Didn't feel it was too noisy that we couldn't hear each other. The margaritas had me worried that they came out of a pre-made tank, but they tasted ok. The price for one was stiff though. $6 for a margarita. That's a lot to me considering Happy Hours can usually be less. After dinner we went out front and sat under their heat lamps and continued having drinks. It was pleasant. All and all, I think I'd do it again!

                  1. Okay- Went on Saturday night and I have come to the conclusion that DC just does not know Mexican/ Tex Mex whatever...we are new yorkers and know our food...I went to LP after researching a lower priced Mexican restaurant near Adams Morgan. All I can say is horrible. Margaritas were okay, chips plain and flavorless, salsa was very watery. It reminded me of a chain restaurant like a Jose Tejas, atmosphere, but the food wasnt even close to being as good as a Jose Tejas...
                    Order Chicken fajitas- poor- one ring of uncooked unions and 3 peices of some vegetable after we asked 2x's for extra vegetables. Chicken was in 2 breasts and had to be cut up....

                    Shrimp and Crab Quesadillas- horrible DINER like food- not crispy on the outside, no cheese, frozen miniature baby shrimp...the worst blandest thing I ever tasted...

                    Sangria- Decent fruit juice like little booze in it....

                    Never again, we were very dissapointed....stick with one of the smaller more authentic restaurants in Adams Morgan..

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Andrea16fh

                      If you really "know your food," you would know that there is a vast difference between cooked salsa (like at LP) and salsa fresca. The cooking accounts for the "wateriness." And who could complain about the chips? Light and crisp and thin and warm...good lord.

                      Also, I would take the advice of LettuceEat and get less obvious choices than quesadillas and fajitas. If you order chain-type food, you get chain-type food. The masitas de puerco and the quail are well prepared.

                    2. Yes, yes New Yorkers know food - sigh. Lauriol is great for a scene and the margaritas on the rocks aren't half bad. Not Tex-Mex per say, but Guajillo in VA isn't bad, nor is Taqueria Poblano for a Mexican fix.

                      1. Boy, are you people -- snobs or not -- missing the boat on this one. The joy of Lauriol Plaza is not the Mexican entrees, but the Peruvian ones. The lomo saltado is excellent, the salmon in seafood sauce is terrific, and the masitas de puerco (pork cooked in bitter Seville orange sauce) is sublime. Expensive? These dishes range from $10 to $13 for dinner. The Peruvian items are listed under "oven specialties." And, honestly, who buys $6 individual margaritas when you have ten people in your party? Why not order by the half or full pitcher? I can't fathom the remarks about the salsa and chips. Do you prefer tortilla chips from a bag to Lauriol Plaza's freshly made ones that come warm to your table? Would you rather have bottled salsa than homemade? Yes, it's a lively atmosphere. But, like many restaurants, you can have a delicious meal if you order right. Add in free valet parking and extremely efficient table service, and you would have to be working pretty hard to make it a bad experience.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: Lettuce Eat

                          I have to agree with Lettuce eat. My group of friends which includes one person with a limited pallete has always used Lauriol as a meeting space. Overall the food isnt that great, but the chips and salsa are freshly made and the masitas de Puerco is by far the a stand out and makes Lauriol going to. And why would anyone order margaritas there any other way than by the half or full pitcher.

                          1. re: Satellite

                            Because they get really watered down that way, especially if you're outside on a warm summer afternoon.

                            1. re: Satellite

                              Another voice in agreement with Lettuce eat. The non-Mex items seem more like Cuban to me, what with the lomo, masitas, maduros, tostones and black beans. Not bad, decent in fact. I never bothered with the Mexican stuff. However, the margaritas are like Slurpees and they refuse to pour a mojito. If you can get a table on the roof before the full-contact happy hour has achieved peak frenzy, it can be fairly pleasant. The interior is deafening.

                              1. re: flavrmeistr

                                Actually - my parents tell me that Lauriol Plaza was originally more of a cuban restaurant in the mid-60's when they used to go there. The Masitas de Puerco in my opinion are one of the best things there - not exactly traditional but good...The main reason to go there is the atmosphere - very different than when I used to go in the 80's and they were located further down closer to the circle.

                          2. Used to go when they were at the earlier location. Been to the current location only once and it has been a while. Don't remember the name but alway got the grilled pork with the beans and rice. On the whole it's a fun place, specially with friends.
                            Generally gets trashed by the all knowing critics and New Yorkers.

                            1. Maybe if ten people drink really slow. A pitcher cant possible hold twenty margaritas or so.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Satellite

                                When did 10 people enter the equation? You had asked why anyone would ever order margaritas at LP any other way than by the half or full pitcher. If you're not sucking them down (easy to do with 10 people) then they would definitely fall victim to icemelt.

                                I wish I had that many friends. Or that many people I could tolerate, for that matter.

                                1. re: Franklun

                                  The original person who asked about the place (Mary) said that they had to wait for her party of 10 to arrive. Then she mentioned that the price per margarita was stiff at $6 each.

                              2. I mean you just have to take Lauriol Plaza for what it is- mid grade mexican food in a trendy setting. It's not bad, but certainly not what I'd call good Mexican food. I tend to like to take groups there just because everyone can find something to eat on the menu. It's one of the mexican places in this city that can handle a group decently well and get their orders right. I go there every once in a while, but if I wanted better Mexican food I'd go around the corner from where I live to Mixtec.

                                1. I went recently and took the advice of Lettuce Eats and order a Peruvian dish from the "oven specialties" -- it was great! It was my one experience at Lauriol Plaza and I'd go back and get another Peruvian dish.

                                  1. Lauriol Plaza is one of those places that is pretty good for the price. It's an easy place for people to find something they like and with the range of options and the opportunities to split entrees, isn't crazy expensive. I love the freshly made chips and salsa. The margaritas are decent and strong. I don't know where some of you are hanging out, but six bucks for a mixed drink isn't bad. That being said, the wait is often long, the service really uneven to sometimes downright rude. I only order the grilled specialities. I love the mesquite grilled flavor in the fajitas and other grilled food. The Lomo Saltado is really good too. It's a good mid-priced place to go. You can get fajitas for about 11 bucks. Unfortunately, DC lacks mid-priced restaurants. It's a nicer (though loud, sure, but always interesting people watching) dining room than Mixtec, but not at the prices of, say, Red Sage (which, by the way, I am convinced does not put ANY tequila in their margaritas).

                                    1. By the way, if you drink bourbon- order a makers there- you will get one of the largest glasses of makers ever there. They love people who drink things other than Tequila and beer there.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: jpschust

                                        I'm going to try that next time. They do serve their mixed drinks in what looks like water glasses. I once had a vodka tonic there that was strong!