Julian Serrano at the Aria Hotel in Las Vegas is a fun and flavorful way to have a meal. Not only is the food a delight, but the restaurant’s decor complements the playful tapas menu with its bright colors and modern design. This was one of my favorite meals while staying at the Aria.
First and foremost, the cocktails. The drinks here were great — the Manzana Deliziosa made with Hendrick’s gin, green apple purée, Lillet and fresh thyme was nicely balanced as it packed a punch. The Piña 43, made with Herradura añejo tequila, Cuarenta y Tres liqueur, pineapple and lime, and the Dulce y Picante, with Spanish brandy, St. Germain, strawberry and cayenne pepper, were also standouts.
As for the food, most of my favorite tapas dishes turned out to be vegetables. The sautéed baby spinach with pine nuts, raisins, apple and shallots, while it sounds a bit boring, was the most flavorful plate of spinach I have ever had. And I couldn’t down put the sautéed padron peppers (which I thought were piquillo peppers) simply prepared with extra virgin olive oil and sea salt. The Brava Potatoes topped with spicy tomato and alioli sauces were satisfying, and the seared scallops in romesco sauce were perfectly cooked.
And the, of course, there was the paella. We got the mixed version chock full of lobster, mussels, chicken, Spanish pork chorizo, vegetables and saffron rice. Take a look at the photo — somehow this huge plate is meant for just two people! With all the other dishes we had, we barely ate any of this, which was a shame, but it was tasty.
We had three desserts — churros with chocolate sauce, almond cake and rice pudding. The arroz con leche de coco, a rice pudding made with coconut milk topped with fresh pineapple, was the most appealing to me. I love rice pudding, and this version had perfect consistency and interesting flavors.
If you’re visiting Las Vegas, Julian Serrano should be on your short list of places to eat and drink. Hey, you’ll even get a Spanish lesson in the restroom over the speakers — not a moment will be wasted.
Note: This meal was hosted.