Restaurant Profile: Lauriol Plaza on 18th Street

by Borderstan.com January 3, 2011 at 5:00 am 2,487 10 Comments

Lauriol Plaza Dupont Circle Luis Gomez Photos

Lauriol Plaza at 18th and T Streets NW.  (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Alejandra Owens at One Bite At A Time. Questions or comments for Alejandra? Send her an email.

Hey, remember that time you celebrated your birthday with 25 of your closest friends over pitchers of swirl margaritas?! Or maybe the time you waited an hour for a table only to realize the aforementioned swirl margaritas had taken effect and you really weren’t that hungry anymore…?

Ahhh… Lauriol Plaza. A summer mainstay. Corona buckets, bottomless chips and salsa and, of course, margaritas and sangria. I don’t dislike Lauriol Plaza — not at all. But I do have a problem calling it authentic. Remember what I said when I profiled La Villa on 14th Street NW? I’m a wee bit on the critical side when it comes to Mexican food.

I get the same thing every time I go to Lauriol: carne asada. So far (and I’ve tried just about everything) it’s the most authentic, delicious and wallet-friendly dish on the menu. That’s me though, what do you guys think?

  • Where Am I Going: 1835 18th Street NW (corner of 18th and T Streets)
  • When Am I Going: Monday to Thursday, 11:30 am to 11 pm; Friday and Saturday, 11:30 am to midnight; Brunch on Saturday and Sunday, 11 am to 3 pm.
  • Paycheck Pain: Depending on what strikes your fancy, $9 to $26… or $50 for an El Gordo Grande Platter that includes a variety of dishes and serves up to four people.
  • Say What?: This is the perfect spot for a party… or your very loud/inappropriate friends… or kids. It’s loud. WHAT? I can’t hear you…
  • What You’ll Be Eating: They say you’ll be eating Mexican, but really the menu reads like a “best of” or a “most familiar” list of Latin dishes from around the world. Yes, you’ll find tamales and enchiladas, but you’ll also find dishes from Spain, Cuba and other countries.

  • RK

    This place is so sad to me. They basically fill you up with margaritas hoping you won’t notice how awful their food tastes. And people go their in droves because they love to sit outside, or want to be seen – who knows. I went there once and decided not to drink and was correct – the food is truly disgusting. Just greasy and heavy and gross. I’m vegan now and would never go because goodness knows what kind of oils they use. I love real Mexican food and maybe I’ve been spoiled given that I’m from California but I’m still shocked when I see how many people are in this restaurant every night. Sober up and taste the food, people. Gross.

  • Taboo

    I know it’s popular among some people to trash this place. But, look, the food is actually good — very good for a place of this size. The key (if you’re a bit older like me) is to go at certain times. I have taken extended family there for lunch or brunch or mid-afternoon and it’s quite nice. Yes, it’s big and loud — but that’s what it is. Frankly, I find Lauriol to be a much better deal than some of the oh-so-trendy-pretentious-places that have opened in the hood — and the food is about the same quality.

  • Pootsie

    @Taboo – I agree. I can think of a dozen places in this town that have three times the snob appeal and the food is no better or not as good as Lauriol.

  • Steve

    I agree with Taboo. There are a lot of bad, trendy spots in the neighborhood that don’t deserve the attention. But I still hate this place. Too much of a scene and pretentious people. And the staff is not very good. They always seem to be on the verge of losing control and having a mad riot break out over tables.

  • OTBerbur

    While not an outstanding restaurant, Lauriol Plaza does not deserve all the venom directed at it. (I saw a local restaurant guidebook proclaiming it the worst Mexican restaurant in America. Really!). If one goes before the crowd arrives (before 7 on weekdays, 6 on weekends), there’s no wait for a table, considerably less noise than a lot of establishments on 14th and U Streets, excellent chips, and decent margaritas. Some of the lower-priced entrees (pollo asado and masitas de puerco) are consistently well-prepared and filling. Just don’t expect sophisticated or subtle cooking or any effort being exerted on side dishes. In 10 years of dining at this restaurant, I have never needed to order anything more than an entree and a drink; despite the kitchen’s limits, Lauriol Plaza can provide a good value meal.

  • I love Lauriol for what it is… basking in the sunshine with my margarita… eating so much chips & queso, I’m not hungry for my meal… but then still trying to eat part of it. I typically get the vegetarian platter or the fish tacos. Again, it’s not like it’s gourmet, but that’s not why I go to Lauriol.

    • IWannaButtLikeBeyonce

      I’m with you, girl.

  • Mandy

    Did a couple of people say Lauriol Plaza was not pretentious? Are you seriously kidding me? Honey, if you don’t see the pretention at Lauriol Plaza I’d suggest you step out of your pretetious crowd and go alone one night and remain sober so you can focus on the Capital Hill employees and what they do after 5:00. OMG, Washington,DC snobbery 101 at perfection. It’s all Federal employees or “cool” urban transplants from the ‘burbs. It’s a snobby foodies dream. There is nothing local/Disrict of Columbia about Lauriol Plaza. The REAL Washingtonians that remember when Lauriol Plaza was on the other corner haven’t step foot back into the front door since their first experience at it’s new diggs proved the old LP would never return and all the goodness of it’s local flair had turned into a moment of history.
    Anyway…the food. I haven’t ate there recently (clearly) because it’s not my scene but as I recall the food wasn’t bad, wasn’t good, didn’t move me care either way.
    Lauriol Plaza is all about being seen at the trendy scene. The food is of little importance.

    • Fred Flint

      Hey, Mandy sorry you are so bored with life after over 13 years since Lauriol Plaza moved and you have not been there, you still take the time 13+ years later to comment on how they suck. Get a life.

  • Mandy

    P.S. Because I mentioned both in my previous post, does everyone know the difference in Washington, DC and the District of Columbia ?

    For those that don’t…
    Washington, DC = Government workers (that generally live in the ‘burbs and are registered to vote in a state elsewhere.

    District of Columbia = DC residents that work (generally non government) and sleep in DC and are registered DC voters (Democrat).


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