Felicia Wilson’s path to the restaurant business is a familiar one: a food enthusiast wants to share her passion.
But, she said the other day, “it was more of a retirement goal.” As a 44-year-old social worker who owns three day-care centers, and with a family (husband and four children), she was hardly thinking about making a move.
In December 2020, she met someone selling a liquor license, and the gears began to turn. She began scouting restaurant spaces, and a month later found herself leasing the storefront at 104 Chestnut St. for what is now Amina.
The intimate restaurant made its debut this week, sporting a bold gold interior inspired by Amina, the 16th-century warrior queen of what is now Nigeria.
It’s on the 100 block of Chestnut, which has been Old City’s ever-changing restaurant row since the mid-1970s, when such landmarks as the Middle East and H.A. Winston’s drew crowds. (From 1989 to 2013, Amina’s spot was the Mexican Post.) Paved with Belgian blocs, the street is now the home of Han Dynasty, Glory Beer Bar, Roe, Buk Chon, Buffalo Billiards, and Little Susie’s.
To help develop Amina — named also after her daughter — Wilson found chef Darryl Harmon, who turned heads here years ago as executive chef at the Water Works along the Schuylkill when it was an à la carte restaurant.
Harmon’s menu is Southern. “There’s not much Southern in the area,” Wilson said. For that matter, there also are few other Black-owned restaurants in Center City. Sooo Delicious Soul Food Cafe, a modest place that does mainly takeout, opened at 1112 Locust St. two months ago.
Among Amina’s dishes are braised oxtails topped with morel mushroom demi; a gumbo of Anson Mills Carolina Gold rice, shrimp, crab, oysters, and chicken wings; and cheesesteak beignets, with charred onions and sweet peppers, cheese fondue, white Cheddar “dust,” and spicy ketchup. A couple of dishes with African influence (peri peri sticky wings, Nigerian hot chicken) round out the menu.
Full bar includes signature cocktails; brunch and lunch are on the way.
Opening hours are 4 to 10 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday, 4 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 4 to 9 p.m. Sunday.