Eclectic and gastronomic, yet simple at heart. Jaleo (Ha-lay-yo) represents everything you'd hope to associate with DC legend Jose Andres: luxurious and fun, flavorful and innovative, intriguing for eyes and palate alike. Jaleo's small plate theme brings tapas back to their true Spanish origin, with meticulously crafted tastes that come together on what seems like a molecular level. Step into this place and enter a portal of worldly flavors and ingredients only found in a select few establishments west of the Atlantic.
This colorful restaurant shares many qualities with its little brother, China Poblano, a floor down in the Cosmopolitan. An open-air feel spans across low-cut, lounge-like booths, tables with futuristic clear chairs and rustic wooden seating on the ‘outdoor’ patio. Guests can see chefs preparing the prestigious Jamon Ibérico in the middle of the room, as well as more culinary masters firing up Spain’s ‘comida tradicional’ in the country’s only open-flame paella station. Truly a destination for those looking for a dining experience that spans beyond just good food.
Andres’ mastery certainly unveils bold, classic European flavor. Paella is an obvious must-have [they ring a bell and cheer every time a new one comes off the flames], as is the Rossejat, a large pasta-based paella that combines excellent qualities of creamy and savory. You also need to get something with Ibérico pork: The Wagyu of pork, it comes from acorn-fed black-footed pigs known for having the richest flavor. The mini pepito de Ibérico burgers will melt in your mouth, integrating a different flavor from the pig into every component, from patty to sauce to bun. Buñuelos de bacalao [cod fritters], coca con erizos de mar [Spanish Cristal bread with sea urchin], any chorizo, and the huevo frito con cavier [Spanish fried egg with caramelized onions and caviar] are true winners as well.
Finish on a good note with a cheese course of torta pascualete, a succulent raw sheep’s milk cheese only found in a handful of restaurants in the US. Additional desserts include olive oil ice cream [it’s great!] and a gin and tonic turned ‘postre’ that adds an interesting touch. Drinks include a vast wine list and cocktails that put great spins on citrus bases [the gin and tonic is a house favorite, though doesn’t differ much from the original].
Jaleo certainly stays true to its ‘small plates’ focus, so groups should prepare to order 3-5 dishes per person. Portion sizes also apply to cocktails, delivered in little more than ‘tasting size.’ A spectacular experience, no doubt…just be prepared to spend.
Jaleo is located on the third floor of the Cosmopolitan Hotel & Casino. Open from noon-midnight 7 days/week. Out-the-door price is ~$100/person. For more information call (702) 698-7950 or visit Jaleo online.