Julian Serrano or Firefly are the best Las Vegas restaurants for tapas. Muy bueno!
Julian Serrano Tapas Restaurant in Aria at City Center is so super cool looking, that if they were selling fried shoelaces you’d want to dine there and give’em a try. Fortunately, Chef Serrano’s menu doesn’t include fried shoelaces. It does have a delicious selection of Tapas for you to enjoy as much as you do your surroundings.
About the Chef
Julian Serrano’s accolades include two James Beard Foundation awards; Best Chef in California in 1998 and Best Chef Southwest in 2002. Although well schooled in the art of French cooking, Chef Serrano is a native of Spain. His namesake venture at Aria has afforded him the opportunity to put his unique signature on traditional Spanish fare such as paella and tapas.
What we tried:
Beef & Cheese- prime tenderloin with brie, honey and pecans finished with a mushroom reduction sauce.
Creamy Risotto- wild mushrooms, manchego cheese and natural jus.
Sauteed Baby Spinach- pine nuts, raisins, apples and shallots.
Ahi Tuna Tempura- avocado and mango ensaladilla, ahi tartare and wasabi foam.
Everything was delicious. I especially enjoyed the Beef & Cheese and the Sauteed Baby spinach; just an amazing combination of flavors and textures. If you’re on the Strip or at City Center, Julian Serrano is where to go in Las Vegas for tapas. Julian Serrano also has an Early Evening Menu for $39pp from 5pm-7pm, a Signature Tasting Menu for $59pp, a Vegetarian Menu and a selection of Vegan items.
Firefly Tapas Kitchen & Bar has two Las Vegas restaurants. The original is on Paradise near the Strip and the newest location is on the westside of town on Sahara. Julian Serrano and Firefly both serve outstanding tapas and that’s about the only thing they have in common. Firefly is geared for locals more than tourists, by it’s locations and hours. The Paradise location is open from 11:30am- 2:00am and has a tremendous following of casino workers who want to have a drink and a bite after work that doesn’t mean going to an all-night drive-thru or having your typical hot wings or chicken fingers that are the local bar standard. There’s always a high energy vibe at the Paradise location. The westside location is more upscale and subdued, but you’ll find the same mouthwatering menu at both restaurants.
Chef John Simmons
Ok. So you’ve never heard of him. He’s not a “Celebrity Chef”, but he does feed plenty of celebrities after hours at Firefly, and although his name may not be as well known as Julian Serrano, his restaurants are known by every local in the valley to be “Tops in Tapas”. Chef Simmons has a degree in culinary arts and has worked with French Chef Rene Bajeux. He was also Executive Chef at the opening of MonAmi Gabi at the Paris for four years before he decided to open his own place. And we are so glad he did.
What we tried:
Apple and Manchego Salad- green apple, manchego cheese, smoked almonds
Roasted Baby Beet Salad- mixed greens, goat cheese, toasted pecans, sherry vinaigrette
Chicken & Chorizo Stuffed Mushrooms
Filet Mignon Sliders- mini burgers w/Serrano ham, cabrales cheese, caramelized onions
Petite Filet- mini filet mignon, herb cheese, roasted potatoes, mushrooms, red wine sauce.
Lamb Skewers- marinated leg of lamb, tomato, sauteed lentils, red wine sauce
We dined at the newest Firefly and if you’re a local on the westside or want to get away from the Strip, Firefly West is where to go in Las Vegas for the best tapas. We really enjoyed the look and feel of this Firefly Restaurant. Skip the filet sliders, they were a little dry, but everything else was a delight. Great flavor. Next time we’re having the paella.
Sangria & Cocktails
I would be completely remiss if I did not mention the Sangria at Firefly. And for all you wine snobs out there (I’m one too); don’t turn your nose up to the thought of adding fruit to wine…. just go with it. At Firefly they marinate their Sangria for 3 days and it’s DELICIOUS!! The Sangria is available in red, white or sparkling, by the glass or the pitcher. If you like Mojitos, you’re in for a treat. They’ve got them in traditional as well as every flavor you can imagine, by the glass or the pitcher. Tough decision. I wish they had tapas versions of the cocktails and sangrias. I want to try them all!
Firefly has a Happy Hour that varies by location. Check it out and get happy!