Justin Cucci does it again with El Five. Located on the fifth floor of a new building in the Highlands, the ambience is awesome. Justin has gone with the most unique theme. First the restaurant has views of Denver from every side and is positioned that nothing will interrupt the view.
The space has mirror like ceilings, walls covered with faces of people from romance novels and movies from middle-eastern countries-and all the walls have writing-in Arabic! Some areas are done in gorgeous tiles, and the bars continue with the theme in the base of the war and counter. The open kitchen is another focal point. Spend hours wandering through and find something you’ve missed at first glance.
As always, the food is just as important as the décor, and the cuisine matches in creativity and taste. Tapas are the theme with the large plate being paella; seafood, Valencian, or vegetarian. The dish arrives sizzling in the pan and can serve many. There is also a daily whole fish and meat selection. The tapas are unbelievable.
Start with green gazpacho, goat cheese croquettes, and chicken Kofta that is chicken meatballs, lemon, cucumber, mint and avocado yogurt-to die for. New tapas include ash roasted carrots, ras a Hanout yogurt, fennel, seed granola and mint, Spanish Caesar with smoked sardine, and shrimp and calamari a la plancha. Middle Eastern tapas bring charred baba ganoush stuffed in pieces of charred eggplant, matzah ball soup dumplings, shawarma spiced lamb ribs that rock and cauliflower Yufka with chickpeas, tahini, and more.
Great sides make for more options. Desserts are out of the ordinary; dragees/hazelnuts and dark chocolate, halva, flan, kunefe, and rugelach. The wine, cocktail, and beer list complement the food and again reflect the middle eastern theme. Service Is knowledgeable, friendly, and helpful as each guest is treated like family.
El Five brings a distinctive experience that is remarkable and impeccable. Thanks to the folks at Edible Beats for upping the Denver dining scene again and bringing us El Five.
El Five Tapas de Gibraltar
2930 Umatilla St, Floor 5