Lauriol Plaza

Cuban, Mexican, South American, Spanish, Tex-Mex
$$$$ ($15-$24)

Editorial Review

By Tom Sietsema
Sunday, May 18, 2013

Then: Go for the habanero-hot scene (2000)
Again: It's not about the food

Cross the Cheesecake Factory with Taco Bell -- then throw in spring break -- and what you get is this sprawling zoo of a destination in Dupont Circle that feeds an average of 1,400 customers a day. A diner could get jet lag just reading the menu possibilities, which hop from Peruvian seviche to Cuban pork and from Spanish paella to Mexican enchiladas and which get ferried from kitchen to crowd by troops of industrious servers.

Experience tells me to stick with guacamole and beans, no matter their shade, in what resembles National Airport with its soaring windows, arched ceilings and abundant light. The prime seats are on the sidewalk patio and the fourth-floor deck, which is where my posse and I were deposited on a recent bustling Sunday afternoon. Light but oily tortilla chips served with a salsa that tastes mostly of pepper demand something to wash them back, which explains the sea of margaritas surrounding us. (It pays to upgrade to the Gold Cadillac.)

Inattention is a prime seasoning. Fish seviche tastes mostly of lime and comes with a garnish of ... someone else's hair in the toss, which wasn't as off-putting as discovering a wad of chewing gum on the pepper shaker. The dry chicken tamales need every drop of the green sauce nearby. Pollo asado has juiciness in its favor, but not so the Brussels sprouts, so undercooked they defy the fork. A bowl of vivid orange seafood soup bobs with tired mussels, rubbery squid and shrimp that smack of iodine. And the chewy Cuban steak makes me thankful for strong molars. Combination platters, meanwhile, are a strapping yawn.

Ultimately, the single best dish at Lauriol Plaza is the something-for-everyone clientele. No matter your taste in people, you're likely to see it in the swarm.

Reader Reviews

Avg reader rating
Tom is wrong

LP is a restaurant where your supposed to have fun, its an adventure going to LP, you never know exactly what your going to find, but one thing is for sure. You'll always find amazing drinks, good food, and an atmosphere to die for. If you think the food is "inauthentic" I'm sorry but your wrong you obviously haven't been to Mexico or any spanish country, LP takes classic dishes and turn them into gourmet versions. The owners are both from hispanic descent, one from El Salvador and the other from Cuba. If you want authentic go down to Mexico and buy fajitas off the side of the street, thats real authentic, but no one is going to want to go to a "authentic" restaurant like that. LP is amazing, and as authentic as you can get here in USA.

Tom is right, LP is meh

I always wonder what the draw is, given how inauthentic and forgettable the food is.

Tom is right

LP was the first Mexican place I tried after moving here from California. My coworkers love to come here for the atmosphere but the food is bland at best and generally pretty terrible. I would actually rather eat at Taco Bell, personally. But it's a beautiful restaurant in a great location. The drinks are good and reasonably priced. It's a fun place at pretty much any time of long as you eat before or afterwards.

Not as bad as Tom thinks

I've been going to Lauriol Plaza since it was at 18th and R, and it has proved durable and reliable. Not excellent, but by sticking with the Cadillac Margaritas, and something from the specials sheet, particularly Cuban or seafood items, we have managed to have many years worth of excellent meals. Service has been reliably good. We have rarely had a bad experience, so we continue to go. There are better versions of essentially the same menu at places like Samantha's in Silver Spring, which we learned of thru a Tom Sietsma review. But 1/2 a star for Lauriol? I don't think so.

Tom, your review misses the point entirely

You should have realized fairly quickly that you were doing something wrong when you gave less than one star to what is perhaps DC's most popular restaurant (and has been for many many years). Lauriol Plaza is FUN, and its food is at very least decent. The fajitas are great; the masitas de puerco delicious. I am a huge foodie myself, but thoroughly enjoy my trips to Lauriol. Sure, it isn't Minibar, but not every restaurant should strive to be.

Lomo Saltado

Best Lomo Saltaldo I have ever have I dont care what Tom says

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