This post is long overdue, but it’s been a very busy holiday season for me since Thanksgiving. I got a chance to finally visit El Five right before Thanksgiving, though, and it was absolutely Ah-Mazing. El Five opened in LoHi (right next to Linger) earlier this year, and it’s been a really cool addition to the Denver dining scene. It’s a Mediterranean tapas restaurant from Justin Cucci, featuring both traditional and modern plates inspired by all the different Mediterranean countries — from Spain, to Gibraltar, to Morocco. I rarely love every single dish I try at a restaurant, but this was exceptional. There were 6 of us here, and no one could find fault with anything — drinks and service included.
The rooftop views here also make it the perfect spot for a romantic date night. It’s right across the highway from downtown, so you get a straight shot of the downtown skyline.
As far as cocktails go, there are some really fun, creative options here. Such as the Zombie (amber, dark and overproof rums, lime, falernum, passionfruit, absinthe) — and the Pineapple Mint Collins (vodka, sekanjabin, lime, pineapple, mint, soda). The wine list is also amazing, and I highly recommend chatting with their wonderful sommelier (Kelley Pottle Graham) to find the perfect pairing, or even get something that’s not on the menu.
As a starter, we loved the Mediterranean Sea plate — I believe what’s on it changes, but we had oysters, sardines, lobster, shrimp, mussels, and seaweed salad. It’s a great variety of light seafood to get started with.
The Grilled Mackerel and the Shrimp & Calamari a La Plancha were great seafood follow-ups with bold Mediterranean flavor. And they were perfectly charred/fried on the outside, while still being incredibly tender on the inside.
The Ash Roasted Carrots look pretty much like a masterpiece. As far as vegetarian dishes go, this one was pretty fantastic — and very thoughtful about combining the right flavors and textures (as is every dish here, to be honest).
The Charred Baba Ghanoush (Eggplant) — rich and filling and awesome:
The chicken skewer dish was one of my favorites, but sadly I don’t think on the menu right now. I rarely find chicken this packed full of flavor and this juicy on the inside — which is why you don’t see me praising chicken very often.
The Shawarma Spiced Lamb Ribs pack quite a flavor punch, too. I’m not the biggest fan of lamb — and these are pretty lamb-y — but those at the table who like lamb, loved these:
A little less lamb-y, and perhaps even more delicious, is the Moroccan Lamb Sausage. My husband practically refused to share this after he got his hands on it (he’s a huge lamb fan).
The last of my favorites was the Grilled Hanger Steak. I mean just look at it. There’s clearly a trend with every single dish here: thoughtful, creative combinations; bold Mediterranean flavors; and skillful veggie and meat preparation. All in a fun atmosphere with great service. I’ll definitely be back.