Jill Paider

The chef wants you to "dine like a Spaniard."

Andy Wang
August 01, 2017

What José Andrés calls Lunch Like a Spaniard at Jaleo in Las Vegas' Cosmopolitan is the kind of meal that can completely alter your afternoon.

Let's say you have a whole day planned: You're going to gamble, shop or go day-clubbing at Marquee afterwards. And then you get the Lunch Like a Spaniard paella supplement and realize that your only option now is going back to your room.

"We call it the closer," Jaleo head chef Luis Montesinos says of the lunchtime paella, which can vary from day to day. "In Spain, you eat a really heavy lunch and then you take a nap."

Lunch Like a Spaniard is a $25 choose-your-own-adventure tapas tasting with the option of a $7 paella add-on. There are three categories of small plates, and you pick one from each category.

The idea, of course, is sharing food and trying lots of different items.

"I based the menu on a normal restaurant-week menu," say Montesinos, who offers Lunch Like a Spaniard seven days a week year-round. "Being a tapas restaurant, it made sense to have a lunch menu designed that way. Two people can get six tapas, and nobody gets the same thing. My goal and José's goal is to make the Spanish experience part of your everyday life. Eating is a communal event."

So a lunch feast for two at Jaleo could include gazpacho, mixed greens, a mini Ibérico pork burger, chicken croquetas, grilled Catalan sausage and gambas al ajillo. The latter is a soul-warming, uncompromising rendition of the shrimp-and-garlic dish that's beloved in Spain. This might not be the item to order if you're planning to go make out with a stranger at Marquee afterwards.

For the summer, Montesinos has added some lighter seafood dishes that are good options if you want to avoid a siesta. There's a seared scallop with romesco. There's salmon with pisto manchego, a vegetable-heavy stew featuring tomatoes, squash, eggplant and red bell peppers.

Vegas is about pleasing the masses, so Montesinos is happy to offer a couple plates that are less sleep-inducing. But, he quickly adds, "If you want a selection of meats and jamons and pan con tomate, you can add that to your experience."

That costs extra, of course, but then your whole afternoon is sorted. Who's ready for a nap?