I've heard glowing reviews from friends and colleagues about Amada restaurant in Old City, but I never got around to making a visit. Suprisingly it lived up to the hype.

Amada's floor plan flows freely between 3 open rooms - encouraging a loud communal experience. The interior features plenty of Spanish reds and browns - wood slab tables, shelves of canned Spanish ingredients and hangers with sections of covered pork hanging near the long tapas bars which define each room. Our table was in the back room which was much quieter, romantic and cozy. This setting was more Mediterranean or almost Turkish - especially when seated in plush couch chairs with a couple soft pillows underneath our asses.

We picked 6 simple dishes and there was not one misstep. The ensalada verde with asparagus, avocado and green beans was a refreshing way to start things off. My wife's favorite was the chorizo blanco - razor thin slices of sausage with bread and side offerings of spicy mustard and peppers. I was surprised the octopus dish offered no indication of octopus. It was basically diced into medallions but the smokey flavor was delicious nonetheless. The calamari was tender and retained a Mediterranean essence in its preparation. The sirloin was top notch and the lobster stew was a wonderful combination of flavors.

The desserts were heavenly. And I don't use that word commonly. The Pastel De Calabaza is a moist pumpkin cake with a side of tart fruit sauce and bay leaf ice cream with pumpkin seeds. The Banana Torrijas is a carmelized bread with bananas bathed in a sinful anglaise with a side of maple syrup ice cream. I prefer moist cakes and creamy desserts, so I was basically licking off the plates.

I love tapas and Amada is as good as it gets. Like MacArthur, I will return - simply to try the rest of the menu.


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