Dia de los muertos! The day of the dead is a holiday celebrated throughout Mexico that focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died, and help support their spiritual journey. We also in Philadelphia celebrate it with a few cocktails and toast our loved ones who have passed. I couldn’t think of a better place to celebrate dia de los muertos than at one of our favorite restaurants, Ardiente, in Old City.
They were having a celebration that night with specials and live music. It seemed perfect and it was. The festivities started a little later in the evening so we ate beforehand and stuck with cocktails. Have I told you how amazing the cocktails at Ardiente truly are? Yes I have! We started out with our favorite, a pisco sour. This is a very dangerous cocktail. It is so delicious. We could stick with this all night and be perfectly happy.
They were debuting a wonderful new drink that they were going to feature on their new brunch menu the next day, the diablo. It was amazing. Made with tequila, créme de cassis, lime and ginger ale, it was smooth and refreshing. Add this to the danger list! Okay, so we had a few cocktails that night but when you go to Ardiente, you’ll understand why it’s so easy to have so many. They are all so good.
As an added treat, we ran into a good friend and amazing musician at the restaurant, Pablo Batista. He is a fantastic percussionist and we were lucky enough to hear him and his band play at South a few months ago. He was at Ardiente with his wife and some friends celebrating dia de los muertos like we were and graciously invited us to join them. He will be back at South on December 27th so be sure to go and see him play. He is simply amazing! We’ll definitely be there.
We went back the next day for their new brunch debut and it was outstanding. We started with a wonderful cup of coffee followed by their Bayahibe 75, which is made with botanist gin, passionfruit nectar, simple syrup, fresh lemon juice and sparkling wine, and their Kir Royal, which is made with cassis de dijon, sparkling wine and lemon. Both were amazing! Fresh and refreshing, they were a perfect pick me up to start our brunch.
For food, we started with the chicken tinga dumplings, that are made with cilantro, cumin and garlic. They were outstanding. They steamed the dumplings which we prefer over frying them. The dumplings literally melted in your mouth when you ate them. They were perfect.
Next up was the Ardiente empenadas that were made with edamame, black truffle and shallots. Folks, these empenadas were simply stunning. You got the creaminess of the edamame and just enough black truffle to balance the taste without overpowering it. Absolutely amazing!
For our entrees, we ordered the chorizo congee, which is a rice stew, over easy egg and house made chorizo, and the steak and eggs, which is an adobo skirt steak, with a side of home fries and a hoisin aioli. The steak was cooked perfectly and melted in your mouth. The eggs were poached to perfection and looked more like whipped cream! Every element on the dish was perfect.
To finish up, we ordered a couple more cocktails. I got the Bloody Maria, which was made with tequila and was so good. Eric ordered their Pampered Moose, which was made with combier pamplemousse liquer, fresh lemon juice, bar spoon pavan and toso brut. Again, the balance of flavors and the freshness of each ingredient was perfectly balanced. Not only is Chef Nihad Hajdarhodzic a master in the kitchen, but the bartenders at Ardiente are masters behind the bar!
As we were getting ready to leave, the hostess stopped us and asked us to sit back down because they had a little surprise. They came out with a wonderful slice of lemoncello cake and a glass of champagne for each of us! We were speechless. The staff and owners at Ardiente are such amazing people. We feel like they are family. They truly go out of their way to make sure you are happy and bend over backwards to make sure every time you walk through their doors, you have a memorable experience and leave wanting more. We absolutely love coming here and you will too. Trust me!