Let me start my saving I’m a big fan of Lauriol Plaza, located a few blocks north east of Dupont Circle. I’ve been going to Lauriol for years, ever since my friend Jim, who went to college in DC, took me for my initiation years ago. Lauriol covers four floors, from the ground floor with outdoor seating with huge umbrellas and patio heaters and a bar, through the middle two floors of dining rooms, to the top floor with a open air rooftop deck – an yet another bar. It’s a large place with a lot of mexican / cuban / latin food and a lot of people hanging out having a good time.
If you want to get a seat a Lauriol, especially in the summer or on a weekend, get there before 7pm. Same applies for the free valet parking – it fills up later in the evening. If you arrive later, plan to stand out front, munching on a basket of free homemade tortilla chips and a smoky chipotle salsa (the first of many baskets you’ll have throughout your stay), while washing them down with a glass, half pitcher, or whole pitcher of classic margarita or frozen swirl (strawberry and classic) margarita served in frosty mugs. Oh, and the drinks a very well poured. A note for large groups, the hostess requires your entire group to be in attendance to be seated. If not, and you’ve just waited for 45 minutes, you have to start all over in the wait queue. You can certainly say a part of 4 is only 3, all in attendance, get seated and add your fourth later. But that really only helps for one straggler. As we recently found out on our most recent visit for our friend Marisa’s birthday, they really do make you start waiting all over again. More chips, salsa, and margarita anyone?
Once seated, you’ll find Lauriol’s menu is varried, from cheap quesadillas and burritos to steaks, seafood, and cehiveche. I tend to stick to the more casual side of the menu, occasionally springing for the Bistec Cubano, a medum rare flank steak cooked medium rare with a delicious garlic and herb sauce, and a side of plantains. However, under normal circumstances – a casual night out with friends – we start with a few bowls of queso, a creamy concoction of melted cheese and red onions perfect for dipping tortilla chips. We normally mix in a few spoons of salsa and then go to town, devouring the queso and many additional baskets of tortilla chips – which are delivered plentifully. I’ve learned that by the time the main course comes, I’ve normally had enough margarita / chips / salsa / queso to almost constitute a meal, so I normally split a burrito or quesadilla with someone. While the foods isn’t groundbreaking, its good in a homey fulfilling kind of way. The kind that goes well with a few drinks. And that’s it – sit around and enjoy good company, good atmosphere, good foods, and the sights and sounds of Dupont circle around you.
Frozen Strawberry and Classic Margarita