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
terribly marginal food and bad service

He opposite of great food. I ordered fajitas that the menu said came bell peppers, tomato and onion. It arrived sans bell peppers and tomato. Staff said they were out had saw no problem presenting this minus the bell peppers and tomato I paid for. Became indignant. Manager came and really couldn't give 2 sh!ts. They're bad. Message to management: PLEASE GO OUT OF BUSINESS SO YOUR SPACE CAN BE RENTED BY A REAL RESTAURNT. THANK YOU FOR YOUR BANKRUPTCY.

Go for the chips and salsa!

I love their chips and salsa. The other food is average. Stick with the basics.

Spring break in Pensacola

If you are looking to relive your margarita-sauced spring breaks in Pensacola, this is the place. The food is crafted to make you crave something to drink, and then the drink makes you crave something that looks and tastes like Taco Bell.

Good food, great for groups

Tom is being fussy. It's good food for the masses.

Herd dining

Agree with TS on this one. I have yet to find an edible dish. There has to be a middle ground between fine cuisine and dreck but Lauriol Plaza has not found it. I guess you go there for the experience but I would rather experience good good.

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