The Philly Mag 50: Restaurants 1 to 20

4. Amada
4. Amada
Amada bills itself as serving “authentic Spanish tapas,” but that undersells the accomplishments of this bustling Old City restaurant. Chef Jose Garces doesn’t just serve tapas; he transforms the traditionally cheap and simple snacks into refined plates. The Amada empanada isn’t merely a spinach-and-manchego-stuffed pastry; the artichoke salad underneath could be a delightful dish by itself. The rudimentary patatas bravas, carefully aligned tater tots individually garnished with paprika aioli, are testament to the meticulous attention the kitchen pays to every dish. And the irresistible sangria and creative cocktails are reason enough to hit the bar for a drink — and a tapa or two. Although Amada can be punishingly loud, we thrive on the crackling energy of the bar, the large main dining room with a stage for flamenco performers, and the chef’s counter overlooking the kitchen. Of course, this elevated style comes with a price: Multi-plate blowouts hit the wallet hard, but the bold and exciting flavors somehow make us forget any concerns about cost.

Pictured: Short-rib ravioli with braised cabbage and grilled sausages

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