When I think Spanish tapas in Philadelphia, the first thing of think of is Amada. Iron Chef Jose Garces’ flagship restaurant, opened in 2005, is tapas perfection. We have dined there many times for all different occasions and have never had a bad meal. The annual pig roast, which is not to be missed, dinner, lunch, brunch, restaurant week…you get the idea. It’s one of our favorite restaurants. We recently dined there with a close friend during Philadelphia’s famed restaurant week and once again, we were not dissappionted.
From the moment you walk in to Amada, you can’t help but stare and appreciate the warm and inviting decor. It’s simple yet elegant. You want to spend as much time as you can here and we did. Almost 3 hours to be exact during our recent visit. You just can’t help but to feel relaxed and not want to leave. And we never felt rushed or pressured to leave. A meal is something to be savored and enjoyed. At Amada, you will feel all this and more.
We arrived a little early before the restaurant started their 5pm seating. Not to worry. We headed directly to the beautiful bar and ordered a drink from their creative bar menu. Our bartender for the evening, Megan, was so friendly and attentive. It was easy to strike up a nice conversation with her and she makes some pretty good cocktails! She’s also top notch when it comes to recommending a good wine. When our table was ready, we almost didn’t want to leave the bar but we managed to do so. It wasn’t easy!
Now when you first walk into Amada, you immediately get a view of the main dining room and a partial view of the bar. You have no idea that there is a back dining room area. At least we didn’t know about this area. You would think after so many visits, we’d know about this! Still novices. Our hostess led us past the kitchen area to a beautiful room that was warm, dark and cozy.
For the first course, we ordered the aged manchego cheese with truffle lavender honey and the pimientos de patron (flash fried peppers, salbixada and sea salt). Absolutely delicious! Manchego cheese is one of our favorites and paired with lavender honey is to die for! Salbixada is a Catalan sauce made of ground almonds, tomatoes, olive oil, vinegar, garlic and parsley. Paired with the flash fried peppers is nothing short of perfection. We also ordered the sambas al ajillo (garlic shrimp) and the caldo gallego (chorizo, smoked ham, white beans, potato espuma). The garlic shrimp literally melted in your mouth. The garlic was not overpowering by any stretch. It’s a classic combo that was made to perfection tonight. The chorizo, which can be spicy in it’s own right went perfectly with the smoked ham and the white beans and potato espuma tempered the spicy and smoke of the proteins perfectly.
Our second courses consisted of pulpo a la galena (spanish octopus), madre e hilo (chicken breast with truffles, fried egg), coca de butifarra (flatbread with Catalan garlic sausage, piquillo pepper confit, San Simon, spinach), coca de alcachofas y seats (flatbread with artichokes, wild mushrooms, black truffles, manchego), and the piquillo relleno (crab stuffed pepper). The presentation of each dish was stunning. The taste was out of this world. You can literally taste every flavor, every spice in every dish. Again, we’ve been to Amada several times and every time we are here, we are just amazed of how the food is so flavorful and succulent.
Amanda never ceases to amaze us in how such large, bold flavors come in small bites. Honestly, this is the closest thing to authentic Spanish tapas you’ll find in Philadelphia. Well, here and at Iron Chef Jose Garces’ other restaurant, Tinto. Yes, we’ve been there too but that story is for another day.
To round out our perfect dinner, we ordered the milhojas (puff pastry, hazelnut praline, bergamot, banana) and the tecinillo de cielo (egg creme, vanilla, orange meringue, pistachio). I mean, come on! Who thinks up these things? Who ever does, thank you, thank you, thank you! Dessert was delicious. A perfect ending to a wonderful dinner. And to compliment our wonderful dinner, we ordered bottle of red wine, a 2015 Valdeheroso Roble Ribera del Duero Tempranillo. The wine was incredible. It was smooth and silky, yet bold with flavor.
In summary, if you want top notch service, attention to detail, passion for food, delicious food, all in a warm and inviting atmosphere, Amada is the place for you. Shame on you if you haven’t tried it yet. What are you waiting for? Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.