Jaleo

Once, chef José Andrés insisted he would never open a restaurant here. Suddenly, he has three: China Poblano, E Bar and this one, his flagship. Jaleo, which means “revelry” in Spanish, is as versatile a restaurant as there is in this city.

It’s possible to eat quickly, snacking on small plates (tapas), but you can also spend hours here nibbling on course after course, crowned by a smoky paella from the olive-wood fire pit in the rear of the dining room.

The décor is colorful, featuring multicolored banquettes that Andrés chose himself, avant-garde murals designed by Spanish artists and, just outside in the common area, foosball tables that double as dining tables.

Most of the dozens of dishes are inspired by Spanish cuisines. The conserved tuna and potato salad is to die for. Another more exotic dish is butifarra casera, the famous Catalan pork sausage done in a stew with mushrooms and pearl onions. Try patatas arrugadas, tiny alabaster-color potatoes paired with a duo of exotic sauces from the Canary Islands, or embutidas, various types of ham and sausage imported from Spain. Pata negra, from black-footed Spanish pigs that subsist on acorns, is the world’s best ham. At almost $40 for a small serving, it had better be.

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Gyoza, Monta

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Gyoza, Monta

This bustling noodle shop’s gyoza, or hand-made dumplings, take a little extra time, so when you order, the waitress will immediately shout over your shoulder to the kitchen that you’d like some. The gyoza are made in-house daily with pork and vegetables, then pan-fried for a nice crust on the outside. Make your own dipping sauce from the accoutrements in front of you: soy sauce, a little vinegar and a little chili oil or shichimi seven spice. $5, 5030 Spring Mountain Road, Suite 6, 367-4600.

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