Where is the Strait of Gibraltar? At El Five in Denver, of course!
For those geography buffs who immediately answered that Gibraltar is at the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula, I’m impressed. I’m sure you also know that Gibraltar is a British territory, which is highly influenced by the Moors, the Spanish, and the Mediterranean. This sums up El Five: Tapas de Gibraltar, an Edible Beats Restaurant in the LoHi neighborhood of Denver.
El Five is decorated with 1950’s and 1960’s Egyptian move posters, highlighted by hexagonal mirrors and mosaics, an homage to Arabic décor of the Gibraltar region. The music is lively, and the views are impressive!… On one side of the restaurant there are unobstructed views of Denver’s sky line, whereas on the other side of the restaurant are expansive views of the mountains.
Seriously, if you’re looking for a place with amazing vibes, go here. This is the perfect venue to propose (hint hint), a fun night spot before going out with friends, and even a great place to take mom and dad when you’re showing off your new city. Honestly, this lively scene is great for any occasion!
MACEDON PINOT NOIR
The wine list is on point. And the servers are very knowledgeable about pairing the wines with the food. We opted for the Macedon Pinot Noir, which is from the Tikvesh Wine Region, which shares the same latitude band as Burgundy and Russian River Valley. This wine paired well with all of the dishes we ordered, as it’s a classic pinot noir, dry, full bodied, with black-cherry aromas and hints of soil.
As for what we ate? TOO MUCH. Honestly, we couldn’t stop ourselves because everything sounded amazing. We tried a few too many tapas, and then topped it off with paella. My suggestion? Take a group of three to four people in order to split the tapas and to try more food! I also suggest reservations, because this restaurant only seats 150 people, and it books up fast!
GOAT CHEESE CROQUETTES
Marcona almonds, frisee, bacon, mastic chili honey
These beauties were rich, yet airy, and a delicious start to our meal. The bacon and honey were well balanced, and the croquettes were the perfect bite size! Two words: Cheese Gushers?
OCTOPUS A LA PLANCHA
Tomato, pea tendrils, capers, yellow split pea puree, grilled lemon
The Octopus in this dish melted in your mouth! It was cooked PERFECTLY. This was my favorite tapa dish of the night. Hands down! We all know I have a love for seafood, especially octopus or a good ceviche.
CRISPY CAULIFLOWER YUFKA
Chickpeas, pine nuts, tahini, avocado fattoush, cumin rouille
My friend, Stephanie, and I ordered this dish at the suggestion of the server. He said this is his favorite dish on the menu. And while we both like cauliflower, we weren’t thinking it would be a knock out dish!… So, I’m not sure what we were expecting from this dish. We heard “crispy cauliflower” and thought cauliflower flourets that were fried. Clearly we weren’t thinking of a Yufka, which is a Turkish fresh pastry street. To say it simply, we were pleasantly surprised. This was Stephanie’s favorite dish of the evening. Which is hilarious because she is a paleo fiend (i.e. she hasn’t met a meat she won’t love, let alone try).
MOROCCAN LAMB SAUSAGE
Hummus, feta cheese, fava beans, pea tendrils, lemon, mint
Seriously, we’re not done yet. There’s a few more tapas we ate. And I’m not kidding, it was just the two of us, and we ate every last bite. The Moroccan lamb sausage is another must try. The sausage holds its own against the accompaniments of feta cheese, fava beans, and pea tendrils. The mint and lemon pulls the entire dish together.
MATZA BALL SOUP DUMPLING
Mirepoix, chicken bouillon, lemon olive oil, dill
According to our server, Justin Cucci, the chef and restauranteur of Edible Beets Restaurant Group, which brings us El Five, lived in Israel, which influenced some of the dishes at El Five. After hearing this, we had to try these simple dumplings. They were a good way to top off the meal!
Chorizo, Salsa Brava, Sherry Gastrique, Garlic Aioli
This dish was a perfect departure from the meat heavy tapas we ordered. It was also a needed starch. Yes, there is chorizo, but it wasn’t overwhelming. I would suggest this if you would like a starch for the meal, in lieu of the paella. As you know, paella is a rice heavy dish. So if you’re forgoing it, the patatas bravas will satisfy that craving.
Shrimp, calamari, mussels, clams, rockfish, sofrioto, saffron, bomba rice
That said, DON’T forgo the paella! We opted for the seafood Paella, and I’m so glad we did. This classic dish was replete with the traditional saffron, seafood, and bomba rice any Spaniard would know and love. It was a great way to finish our bottle of wine, and to end the evening.
El Five is a great WIMM Wednesday choice. For more of “What in the World is on Their Menu” – check the El Five website. Chef Justin Cucci also created five other unique and delicious restaurants you can learn about here. We’ve tried them all, except Vital Root, which is next on our list (hint hint).