What’s not to love about a dining experience that encourages conversation while eating? That’s the whole point of tapas, the delicious Spanish cuisine served hot or cold on small plates. Order a bunch and let the conversation ensue. Unfortunately, the king of tapas doesn’t open his newest restaurant until December. Chef Jose Andres plans to open Jaleo, a Spanish tapas bar, at Cosmopolitan Las Vegas. Until then, grab a group of friends and order up a bunch of tasty tapas at one of these great Las Vegas restaurants.
1 Julian Serrano
Do you argue with a restaurant that made John Mariani’s list of best new restaurants in the country? No, you don’t. This is the type of place where you can go overboard on the tapas. Chef Julian Serrano returns to his Spanish roots at his eponymous restaurant at Aria. You can find a salmon roulade with rocoto mayo and tartar sauce, ahi tuna tempura with avocado and mango ensaladilla, avocado cannelloni with Scottish salmon and rocoto mayo or the infamous tuna-raspberry skewer with ahi tuna, “molecular” raspberry, wasabi and sesame seed. We love the pintxo de chorizos with garlic mashed potatoes and the stuffed piquillo peppers with goat cheese and mushrooms. See how you can go overboard?
Julian Serrano is located at Aria at CityCenter, 1.877.230.2742.
2 Caña Tapas & Rum Bar
Inspired by the flavors of South America, Caña Tapas & Rum Bar specializes in bocadillos for shared dining. Look for five types of ceviche including shrimp, calamari and scallops or the big eye tuna with cucumber and avocado along with empanadas in duck, chicken or beef. You have to try the truffle chips and the papas served in a huancaina sauce. Guaza-glazed short ribs, crispy shrimp and Cuban sliders are delicious heartier items. And its namesake, meaning sugar cane, inspires the drink menu with its freshly squeezed fruits and handmade cocktails.
Caña Tapas & Rum Bar is located at Town Square, 702.722.6060.
3 Firefly Tapas Kitchen & Bar
This Vegas favorite has become so popular that it has opened two new locations in the past year. Our favorite Firefly location is at the Plaza, where you can dine overlooking the Fremont Street Experience. Dine on these easy-to-share dishes such as tomato bread with manchego cheese and Serrano ham, boquerones with Spanish white anchovies on toasts with roasted red pepper, shrimp ceviche or the stuffed dates wrapped in bacon with smoked almond, red wine reduction and blue cheese (Note: These are dangerous). Add some empanadas, albondigas (meatballs in a sherry tomato sauce) and ham and cheese croquetas and you have a meal. Be sure to order a pitcher of the sangria as well.
Firefly Tapas Kitchen & Bar is located at 3900 Paradise Road, 702.369.3971; at the Plaza Hotel, 1 Main St., 702.380.1352 and 9560 W. Sahara Ave., 702.834.3814.
4 Bar + Bistro
We love the idea of an artsy bistro in the middle of the Arts District. While tapas don’t make the menu every night at Bar + Bistro, you can find them on First Friday (yeah, this Friday) when an assortment turn up on the menu. Look for calamari and shrimp with aurora whisky sauce, sausage and polenta and antipasto cold cuts mixed with grilled marinated vegetables, among others. Go on Saturdays, when you can get pitchers of sangria for $10. Or check out Camp 107, a weekly Friday night outdoor event featuring cocktails, cuisine and classic cinema. You can even play some rounds of bocce ball while watching cult and classic films projected onto the Arts Factory east wall.
Bar + Bistro is located at 107 E. Charleston Blvd., 702.202.6060.
We wanted to include a place you don’t typically consider a tapas restaurant. Enter Cut, Wolfgang Puck’s steakhouse at the Palazzo. Head to the bar where you can order from the Rough Cuts menu. These small bites satisfy just the way tapas do. Try the steak tartare, the mini Kobe sliders on their tasty brioche buns or the knishes with caramelized onion and potatoes. Add an order of hand cut French fries with their garlic béarnaise aioli or the tempura onion rings with smoked paprika-saffron aioli and you have a perfect meal. (Photo by Jeff Green)
Cut is located at the Palazzo, 702.607.6300.