Taste: Eat This Now: Tapas at Amada


The Spanish word tapas is commonly translated as “small plates,” tastes of traditional Iberian flavors — serrano ham, manchego, chorizo, spiked with olives, vinegars, citrus — ordered in abundance. But in the bars of Barcelona, tapeo is more than a culinary phenomenon; it’s also a cultural one. In those crowded environs, tapas is as much about conversation as it is about charcuteria.

Many Philadelphia restaurants advertise small-plate menus, but only Jose Garces’s recipe for tapas approaches this convivial Spanish ideal. The former El Vez and Alma de Cuba executive chef, whose first cooking jobs were in Spain, unveils Amada in Old City this month. For Garces, tapas means a menu of traditional flavors, from boquerones (anchovies with balsamic reduction) to gambas al ajillo (small-tailed shrimp quick-cooked in bubbling olive oil fragrant with garlic and red pepper, pictured), plus casks of house-made sangria, long communal tables, a frenetic open kitchen, and flamenco dancing.