Worth the Wait
New Laguna Burger location proves as tasty as ever
On the lighter side of the menu, there's the western wedge salad ($6.50), a straightforward but pleasant surprise for a burger joint. Crisp diced bacon, green chile ranch and tortilla strips join the requisite tomato, lettuce and red onion for a portion that's plenty for a lighter appetite or great as a shared appetizer. Deeper into the sides are the onion petals ($3.90), an absolute standout—and this is coming from an onion ring snob! The beer batter has visible flecks of crushed red pepper and the heat they bring works perfectly with the two-bite onion bits. The heavyweight of the sides menu has to be the pulled pork fries ($6.90). You might balk at the price tag until you see the giant side order that easily serves as a poutine-like meal for one, with generous hunks of moist pulled pork, a sweet and smoky barbecue sauce, and the cool, creamy finish of queso blanco. Were they to mix fries and onion petals then top them like this, they'd be dangerously close to the perfect side dish (hint, hint, Laguna Burger folks!) Rounding out the lighter side of the menu is the footlong corndog ($4.50). As expected, it's a thick, slightly sweet cornmeal batter over a 12-inch hot dog, and it puts this damnably tasty State Fair staple within year-round reach. I'm tempted to try it with the green chile ranch next time.
As a final surprise, they have a full bar—and since it was a warm summer evening, the spiked lemonades ($6) seemed worth a gamble. I'm forever in search of a great lemonade, and these ones didn't disappoint. The grapefruit rose was bright and tart, but as the name suggests, built with a ruby red grapefruit juice that is sweeter than the straight-up grapefruit that I have grown to love. The peach-orange blossom lemonade was silky with syrupy goodness and the punch of vodka. For my fellow chocolate maniacs out there, the funky monkey shake ($7.50) is a booze-forward adult shake that would make Elvis proud. The rum plus 99 Bananas liquor combines with peanut butter, chocolate syrup, and a fresh banana, topped with whipped cream which, okay—I'll admit it, I'll likely order again! If you're on the hunt for a non-alcoholic treat, the orange dream float ($4.50) gets it done. It's a liquid version of that dreamsicle you remember from childhood, with a soft-serve swirl of ice cream and a Boylan Orange Soda, perfect for a warm day on the patio.
It's worth mentioning that in typical casual dining there are often highs and lows, but nothing at Laguna (save the nearly-overripe guacamole) missed. That's a testament to both the attention to detail and a commitment to Laguna Burger's approach: tasty food at good prices. And while that's certainly worth the drive to their other locations, now it's closer than ever.
2400 12th Street NW
Alibi Recommends: Breakfast: The breakfast wimp; Lunch: The fuego with onion petals, and a funky monkey
Vibe: An airy space with TVs and an outdoor patio that's quite a bit different than the gas station location many know!