I’ve dined at a couple other Jaleo locations, so I knew what to expect coming in. This outpost, in the Cosmopolitan, is just as busy, if not more so, than the others. It’s a big open space with plenty of close tables that’s geared toward social dining.

But the star here is the food. The boneless chicken wings with roasted garlic herb purée ($14) were some of the best wings I’ve had — better than the wings at any sports bar. The piquillo peppers stuffed with dungeness crabmeat ($14) is another winner. The combo of the sweet meaty crab and the heat from the peppers left me craving more.

Other dishes we tired were good, but not as spectacular as the ones previously mentioned. The croquetas de jamón Ibérico ($10) come four to an order and, as was expected, were deliciously crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside. The fried dates wrapped in bacon ($8) are always a hit, but I still prefer the bacon wrapped dates from Firefly. The steamed mussels with bay leaf and white wine ($10) were my least favorite dish. The broth was on the bland side and the mussels… well, I’ve had better.

Drinks were above average. Jose’s Gin & Tonic ($16), described as “the best gin and tonic you’ll ever have”, was excellent. The white sangria is a bowl of ice and fruit which they bring to the table, then add a bottle of cava tableside. A decent beverage, that’s good enough for a group of three or four, but more style than substance, in my opinion.

What I really wanted to try during my visit was the lobster paella. But, they weren’t serving it that night (or at least while we were there). They only had the rabbit paella, which we passed on. So, I’ll gladly come back to sample it and try more tapas.

4 Stars

— Updated below: 1/4/13 —

Three visits to Jaleo at the Cosmopolitan and each time I’ve left more impressed than the last time. This past visit was with a party of six. Their menu is always intimidating because of the number of dishes available, so instead of debating which to order we opted for a tasting menu. Similar to an omakase, we left the decision making in the hands of our waiter and the kitchen, although we mentioned a couple specific items that we wanted. Our waiter said it would be about $50 per person for the food.

What followed was a gluttonous feast of about 13 dishes plus two desserts that were almost all amazing. Our meal consisted of:

Pan con tomate (2 orders) – toasted slices of crispy bread brushed with fresh tomato
Three queso (2) – cheese platter
Jamon serrano (3) – 18-month salt-cured ham
Espinacas (2) – sauteed spinach, pine nuts, raisins and apples
Bruselas de jamon (2) – warm brussels sprouts salad with apricots, apple and serrano ham
Gambas al ajillo (2) – shrimp sauteed with garlic
Pulpo a feira (2) – boiled octopus with potatoes, pimenton and olive oil
Mejillones al vapor (1) – steamed mussels with bay leaf, lemon and olive oil
Calamares tinta (2) – seared fresh squid with squid ink sauce, artichokes and pearl onions
Carne asada (2) – grilled skirt steak with piquillo pepper confit
Codorniz Catalan (2) – grilled whole quail with apple puree and pinenuts
Ensalada Malaguena (1) – traditional salad from malaga of Spanish cod, oranges, potato and black olives
Paella Iberico (1) – made with the ribs of Iberico pigs
Flan (1) – classic Spanish flan with espuma of Catalan cream and oranges
Pan con chocolat (1) – chocolate cake with hazelnut praline ice cream and salted caramel sauce

The spinach dish sounds simple but the flavors that they were able to coax out of those common ingredients was unforgettable. Even if you’re not a fan of those leafy greens chances are you’ll love it. Other favorites were the mussels (much better than the previous time I had them), quail, and the squid, a dish as beautiful as it was delicious.

I could probably list all as my favorites because each was well executed. Some caught our attention with bold and complex flavors while others were more subtle, yet just as refined. It was an excellent mix that showcased the ingredients and the chefs’ skills. The relaxed pace of the meal (about two and a half hours) gave us plenty of time to appreciate each dish and try plenty of cocktails and sangria.

After it was all said and done, we walked out spending about $120 a person (including alcohol, tax and tip). For an outstanding meal on the Strip that’s more than reasonable.

5 Stars

The Cosmopolitan
3708 Las Vegas Blvd S
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(877) 551-7776

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