By Sean Hudgins
Located down the Main Line on North Wayne Ave., less than 10 minutes from campus, Matador is one of a bevy of restaurants along a street that promises to deliver a high-class dining experience.
The majority of Matador’s menu is composed of “tapas” dishes, or small plates. The servers recommend two to three of the dishes per person. At about $10 per plate, the restaurant is not particularly designed for the college budget, but the experience of getting to sample a wide variety of Spanish and Mexican flavors is a nice change of pace from the standard college dinner out at Bertucci’s.
The price tag does mean that Matador will be an unlikely choice for a large group outing, but the upscale atmosphere and the nature of tapas dishes to promote sharing make it an excellent date spot for those nights when you are looking for a romantic evening with your significant other.
Most of Matador’s offerings are quite good, but there are a few that fall short and should be avoided.
While you may be tempted to order the fresh guacamole, which is made tableside, skip this appetizer and order an additional small plate if you feel so obliged since overall, this guacamole is bland.
A standard guacamole should include tomatoes, onions and any number of spices. Matador’s recipe, however, seemingly consists only of avocados, lime juice and some cilantro. The result is more of an avocado dip than a traditional guacamole, and though it does not taste bad, it fails to wow the pallet.
The chorizo quesadilla is also an item to skip. While it is packed with sausage, this is actually to the quesadilla’s detriment as it makes the tortillas themselves quite soggy with grease.
Those looking to make the most of their Matador experience will be sure to avoid these options and order the Flautas de Puerco.
These pulled pork-filled tortillas are quickly fried and drizzled with a savory sauce that is paired nicely with the smoky flavor of the pork.
For guests interested in seafood, one of the restaurant’s shrimp offerings, the Gambas al Ajillo, are a must. The plate consists of six sizzling shrimp in a garlic butter sauce. The shrimp are incredibly fresh and more than worth the $9.
Finally, if you are feeling slightly less adventurous, the Pollo Fundido is a tasty, assemble-yourself option. This item comes with three flour tortillas and a small dish of a tequila-cooked chicken smothered in melted cheeses. With a surprisingly prevalent tequila undertone, this cheesy treat is delightfully flavorful.
For those that are of age, Matador offers an extensive selection of tequilas, which are all displayed in the open cabinets behind the bar. In addition, Matador has several imported beers as well as a small wine list.
Aesthetically, Matador does a nice job theming the restaurant. From its giant wooden double doors and wrought iron chandeliers, to its intricately embossed leather menus, painted wall murals and red satin curtains, the restaurant feels authentically rustic, but still elegant.
The combination of a high price point and the inconsistency of the quality across a few of its dishes keeps Matador from earning a full five stars. But if you order smartly, you are sure to enjoy this refreshingly different local eatery.