Vegas is a confusing place. The clubs, the restaurants, the gambling, the shows; the entire place is meant to be so overstimulating, that you have no choice but to spend money to keep yourself occupied. As Angelenos, Vegas is a frequent weekend trip, but unless you're an expert, it can be hellish to navigate. And on our recent trip, we had a group of 14, making things even more complicated. Luckily, we planned ahead by buying tickets for the pool parties, setting up free admission at clubs with promoters, and making our dinner reservations. Also, Kyle and I gave ourselves daily gambling budgets, which was necessary for not losing all our money at the blackjack tables. In addition to these small tips, we have another one for you; check out Jaleo for the perfect group dinner.
An outpost of the successful D.C. restaurant by José Andrés, Jaleo adds another feather in the cap of Cosmopolitan's excellent culinary line-up. The glitzy decor fits in well with the Vegas scene, with fun, upbeat prints, warm lighting, and plenty of red. The restaurant is spacious, with plenty of room for large tables and big groups. Their tapas-focused menu is also perfect for groups, as everyone can order a bunch of dishes for the group to share, or just a few for themselves. Large and diverse, you can find everything from Spanish ham, sesame crusted tuna, and bright salads to paella, house-made sausage, and traditional tapas like patatas bravas. There really is something for everyone.
When in Vegas, of course we had to start with some drinks...
We started out with the Clara, a beer and rosemary lemonade drink that was really interesting. It was definitely fresh and tasty, and came in this fun "porrónes," which requires drinkers to pour the concoction directly into their mouth. I loved that this drink had a Vegas entertainment factor, and got everyone at the table involved in an eating ritual. Also, when pouring the drink, you end up looking like this:
Cute look, right?
We also got a pitcher of sangria, which was delicious. It was fresh, fruity, and the pitcher easily served 5-6 people.
When dining with José Andrés, you've got to get snacks and prepare yourself for a little whimsy. These olives ticked off both those boxes. The olives themselves were as olive-y and briney as can be, stuffed with anchovies for extra salt. They came with a side of "liquid olives" (in the spoons), which are like little bubbles of liquid that pop in your mouth for an intense olive flavor. It was definitely fun, but made for people who really like olives.
Definitely a treat, the tuna tartare cones were great. They were the perfect little bites of crispy cone with a tasty tuna surprise in the center. An all-around crowd pleaser and great for the whole group.
Another great appetizer, the pan con tomate is fantastic in its simplicity. The bread is nicely toasted and crispy, with a fresh brush of tomato on top. A little salt, a little sweet, a little acid, and surprisingly addicting.
Up next were the chicken Croquetas. They were really flavorful, crispy little bites of chicken. I'm still not 100% sure why they were served in shoes, but the presentation was fun (and Vegas-y) nonetheless.
Of course, we had to get the patatas bravas, which were great. The potato was perfectly cooked, with a nice crisp exterior and soft and tender on the inside. The spicy tomato sauce added some serious flavor and just the right amount of spice, while the aioli complemented the dish nicely. Definitely a must!
It's not a true tapas meal unless there's some Jamon Iberico, and this offering was really tender, delicate, and flavorful. I wish there had been more!
Last but not least, we had to finish up with some of their signature paella. We ordered the shrimp version, and they kindly presented us with a giant pan of it before portioning it out. This was definitely one of the night's highlights; the paella was perfectly cooked and incredibly flavorful. There was such a depth of flavor, with salt, brine, spice, and more. Even the rice by itself was really satisfying. Another must!
Overall, the meal was great. With the large space and tapas menu, it was perfect for our group of 14. We ordered some dishes for the table, and sometimes would split up into smaller groups to share plates; we even had a few in our group with dietary restrictions who were still able to find plenty to eat. It was a satisfying but not overly filling meal, which was a great prelude to a night of drinking. We would highly recommend checking out Jaleo for your next weekend Vegas trip!