Amada in Old City Philadelphia is Chef Jose Garces’ ode to authentic Spanish tapas. The dimly lit dining rooms center around an open kitchen that cranks out traditional bite-sized dishes at breakneck pace. Sample as much as possible. I had six plates, all from different sections of the extensive menu: Charcuteria Mixto (cured meat platter), Costillas De Ternera (Beef Shortrib Flatbread), Tortilla Espanola, Lamb Albondigas (meatballs), Madre E Hijo (Grilled Chicken) and Calamari a la plancha. All excellent and prepared uniquely with artful presentation to highlight the featured ingredient.

The standouts: the flatbread, the chicken and the calamari. Pillowy grilled flatbread topped with juicy beef, melted Parmesan and bacon. I could have eaten two more. The calamari was fresh and tender, prepared simply grilled with sea salt and lemon, proving that a superior product is all you need for outstanding flavor. The chicken had a great contrast between the crispy caramelized skin and the moist breast. Pan drippings set it off with fingerling potatoes and a beautiful fried egg on top.

I’ll keep it real though. The selection of cured meats felt uninspired at $15. The tortilla was out-shined by the insane saffron aioli dipping sauce served on the side. And the meatballs were were swimming in a sherry cream sauce that begged to be sopped up with some noodles or bread. Don’t be deterred though. These are food snob problems. Amada’s authenticity in unmatched, and can fit any budget depending on how diesel you want to go.

Confession: I had a good buzz going during this meal thanks to Truimph Brewery and Amada’s awesome sangria. This fact could have impaired my judgment, but for me, a little alcohol loosens me up and heightens my senses. Amada offers a diverse menu, attentive service and a laid back atmosphere perfect for a romantic date or a casual snack after work.


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