After years of listening to mixed reviews, we finally hit up Distrito, a Mexican restaurant from Iron Chef Jose Garces in the University City area of Philly. This is restaurant number 3 in our mission to try all the Garces Group eateries. We made our Friday 7:30pm reservations right on time, found free parking on the same block and were given VIP-like seating in the authentic Mexican TAXI Bug at the front of the restaurant.
So far, things were looking good. In fact, as soon as we walked in, the entire ambience and decor of the place gave us a good feeling. The lighting, the cinema-like signage/menu above the bar, the bright colors, lucha libre masks lining the wall, and the lounge upstairs with a porch type swing, it just all made you feel like you were at a fabulous fiesta…pass the margaritas!
(Take a tour of the restaurant on their website: DISTRITO.)
The one page menu is mostly tapas (dishes meant for sharing). There are some traditional plates but then some definitely modernized and funktified dishes. We had expected to start with some chips and salsa, but at Distrito you get a complimentary dish of spicy peanuts. We thought our luck was about to change until we tried them…addicting little suckers and a definite plus that they don’t fill you up like chips and guac can.
So, naturally, we ordered the vegetarian Nachos Libres Ignacio to start. They came out still sizzling on a skillet and were garnished with shredded radish. These nachos were unbelieveably good…so good we forgot to snap a picture before we dug in. Foodie Fail…not really though because these were probably the best nachos either one of us has ever had. They were the perfect combination of traditional cheesy goodness and fresh modern Mex. Here’s a picture taken from Distrito’s Facebook page:
Up next…Ceviche de Camarones.
Fresh shrimp with spicy tomatos, avocado and plantain chips…a salty and tangy delicious mini-meal. We would’ve loved a few more plantain chips though. ;) Perfect for 2 to share.
Next we had the Mahi Mahi tacos. Prettiest tacos we’ve ever seen…and very flavorful.
As side dishes, we ordered some of our favorite latin staples…
The Yuca Fries (left) were probably some of the best we’ve ever had. The Platano y Crema (sweet plantains and Queso Fresco) might be a little too creamy by some, but for us it was the perfect combination of sweet and salty flavors.
As if that wasn’t enough food, we had to finish the night with these amazing Churros and a cup of Cappuccino. Perfect ending to an almost perfect meal. Almost because we have one complaint, which could be a big deal. While we had a great time and excellent service, the drinks were just not happening for us. Could’ve just been the bartender having a bad night, but we ordered some margaritas and sangria and neither one was what we expected. The margaritas were very light and the sangrias were a little heavy on the brandy. All in all though, we had a great experience and out of the Garces Group restaurants we’ve experienced so far, foodwise it is our favorite…for now.
Distrito is a modern, hip celebration of the culture of Mexico City and a cuisine known by locals as “Distrito Federal”. It’s the perfect place for a girls’ night out, a casual date or even to take the kids out for a fun meal. Be ready to share several dishes and spend some extra $$. We definitely plan to return and recommend you give it a try if you’re in the area.
- Mock Mitzvah at Distrito Restaurant with Garces Catering (robertsonsflowers.typepad.com)
- Distrito (rawcollations.wordpress.com)
- Lucha Libre Wrestling Is Officially Coming To The United States (theatlanticwire.com)
Read our other Garces Group Restaurant Reviews: