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Chef Jose Garces' First Restaurant in Philadelphia, PA

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Offering Delicious Spanish Tapas in a relaxed European Atmosphere, Amada is Simply the Best!

  • Oct 20, 2009
  • by
Amada is the best restaurant in in Philadelphia...maybe even in the world.  If there is one word to describe Chef Jose Garces (currently competing in The Next Iron Chef), it would have to be genius.  I cannot think of any other chef who puts food together like he does.  Amada is one of five restaurants Chef Garces now owns, but of the four that we've been to, Amada remains the very best, offering a fine selection of Spanish Tapas that will leave your mouth watering.  One of the best parts of Amada is that the minute you walk in, it's almost as if you've transported to Spain, as the environment in this Tapas bar is one of a kind.  There's a reason that you can't get a reservation on a Saturday until 10:30PM, people can't get enough of Chef Garces' authentic Spanish cuisine.

When I first went to Amada, it was with my fiance for our one year anniversary during Philadelphia's restaurant week.  Restaurant week is a week during the year that most high end restaurants offer a three to four course set menu usually for around $35-45 dollars.  For most of these restaurants that's a pretty good deal, but at Amada it was even better.  Since Amada is a tapas style restaurant, you are served a bunch of little dishes family style.  So instead of getting a straight 3/4 course meal, we received seven or so different plates and then dessert.  On the restaurant week menu were plates like a cheese platter, notably the aged manchago cheese served with lavender honey on top of a crustiny, a flatbread with beef shortribs, horseradish sauce, bacon and parmesan cheese and Scallops a la Plancha or as we liked to call it, Scallop on a stick.  The star of that night was definitely the scallops, which were grilled to perfection and beautifully seasoned and served with a parsley and garlic olive oil.  I almost forgot to mention their authentic red Sangria which goes for $30 dollars a pitcher, but is worth every dollar.
Scallops a la Plancha 
Shortrib Flatbread

Our next visit to Amada was for my fiances (seeing the theme here?) birthday last summer.  This time unfortunately, it was not restaurant week so the price got pretty steep.  However, we had already decided just from restaurant week that Amada was our favorite restaurant and I also wanted to splurge on my lady so we did the $55 dollar Chef's tasting menu with a $20 dollar wine pairing.  While the chef's tasting was 150% worth the price, the wine tasting ended up being subpar at best and not something I would recommend; stick with the amazing sangria.  Among the dishes that we got for the tasting menu was the Spanish Octopus which is very lightly fried and seasoned, a restaurant favorite among many people and the lamb meatballs which are served with some shaved manchego over top, which is another favorite of ours.  However, the best dish we have ever had at Amada, the reason we keep going back, is the Setas or Wild Mushrooms.  Of course you're thinking, how can mushrooms be the best dish?  For one thing, they taste like meat.  The mushrooms are grilled and served in a truffle sauce that will turn your mouth into its very own fiesta!  Never have I eaten something that literally takes me to heaven for a good ten seconds before they are all gone...  If you ever go, make sure this is the first dish you order. 

Finally, we went back this past Sunday for an early dinner.  When you go to this restaurant for the third time, it's a lot easier because you know what you like and don't like, letting you save some money.  Instead, you order four or five of your favorite dishes with some Sangria and desert and go home happy.  This time around it was a lot of fun because we knew what we were talking about, leading us to recommend some of our favorites to other diners, as you are all seated at what looks like one giant table.  It was nice to just be able to sit down, relax and eat our favorite foods like the Octopus, Scallops, Lamb Meatballs and of course, the foodgasmic Mushrooms.  For desert I had the Leche Frita which was another amazing culinary masterpiece consisting of friend vanilla cream, hazelnut ice cream and a chocolate hazelnut sauce paired with a nice warm cappuccino on a cold day.

Price, Reservations and Wait Staff: 

While Amada is very pricy (we didn't get out of there on Sunday without paying a $133.00 tab), it's truly worth every penny.  The best way to benefit from Amada's pricy menu is to bring four or five friends and order a few dishes and share; this will drastically cut the bill down.  I strongly recommend making reservations as early as possible.  Amada is popular as ever, especially since Chef Garces is competing on The Next Iron Chef.  This is especially true if you're trying to make a reservation on a Saturday night.  All of Jose Garces' restaurants have the best and most knowledgeable wait staff.  They know all about the each dish and its components as well as a lot of the wine on hand, not to mention that they are all extremely kind.

Do I really need to tell you anymore about how amazing Amada is?  Even if you live far away, it's worth the trip just to eat at this amazing Philadelphia Tapas bar.  While it may not be somewhere you can afford to go every week or every month, the food is worth a bi-yearly trip.  Remember to get the Sangria and Mushrooms and you'll be all set.  The best part is getting to hear about what all goes into these dynamic dishes.  In conclusion, Amada remains my favorite restaurant in the world and most definitely the best of Philly.  Amada gets a HUGE 5/5!  On another quick note, if you don't want to spend the money at Amada, check out Village Whisky, his new gastro pub in Philly.  It's way cheap and has amazing burgers as this is Chef Garces first venture into American food.

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October 21, 2009
Mmmmm, looks and sounds amazing!  Great pics, too.  Thanks for sharing, Julian! :)
More Amada reviews
Quick Tip by . September 24, 2009
My and my Fiances favorite restaurant ever! Great Spanish style tapas. Jose Garces is a Genius!
About the reviewer
Julian Brown ()
Ranked #34
Hi, my name is Julian Brown. I currently write for The Brotherly Game, a local Philadelphia soccer website where I cover the US Women's National Team and the local WPS Philadelphia Independence. I … more
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About this restaurant



Address: 217-219 Chestnut Street
Phone: (215) 625-2450
Hours: Lunch: Mon-Sat:11:30AM-2:30PM, Dinner: Mon-Thurs:5:00PM-10:00PM, Fri-Sat:5:00PM-12:00AM, Sun:4:00PM-10:00PM
Cuisine: Spanish Tapas
Price: $$$
Attire: Casual
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