My life was in danger as I was headed to Distrito! I got caught in the middle of a high speed chase, turned the wrong way on a one-way street, and was almost hit by an invisible trolley—at least that is what the man in the car next to me yelled at me! All I could think about when I finally arrived at 3945 Chestnut was; I need a strong cocktail and this place better be worth it!
As soon as I walked in the door my mouth fell to the floor. At first glance I felt like I was trapped inside a bottle of Pepto-Bismol. Everywhere I turned I saw pink! I had to get my bearings straight and my nerves in order before I could truly appreciate the whimsical avant-garde funhouse also known as Distrito. With Lucha Libre masks lining the wall, patio swings at the upstairs bar and a taxi cab table right next to the jukebox, I couldn’t think of a better place for me to unwind and dine. Located in University City, this Jose Garces—2010 Food Network’s The Next Iron Chef winner—is exactly what I would expect from the founder of Amada, one of my favorite restaurants in Philadelphia. Distrito is also ranked one of Philadelphia’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2012.
After I settled in at the bar and took a few sips of the extremely delicious Mango Puree Margarita, I was able to let my hair down and forget about all of the drama I encountered just before my arrival. My bartender was extremely attentive and when I asked him what he suggested, he told me to get his five favorite things off the menu and that is exactly what I did.
CAMARONES CEVICHEOne thing Distrito doesn’t do is skimp on the shrimp in their ceviche! I had a mouthful of shrimp with every bite and every bite was absolutely wonderful. Spicy tomato, avocado and plantain chips make this dish more like a spicy cocktail then your typical ceviche. It was a perfect complement to my margarita.
So “Pato” means duck in Spanish and “Huaraches” is a very popular dish originating in Mexico City and named after a common Mexican sandal. It is fried masa with topped with various ingredients and topped off with some type of cheese. I grew up eating these in Houston where Mexican food is a staple in our daily lives.
There are three options: Pato, Los Hongos and Costillas (duck, mushroom and short rib). I went for the duck since that is a weakness of mine. The manchego cream and the tequila cherry escabech were quite influential as well. But really my buddy the bartender said this was on his top five list so I had to indulge.
I could not go to a Mexican restaurant and not get one of the most traditional dishes—the taco! I was slightly overwhelmed when I saw the seven options! Luckily for me I had someone making my food decisions for me, especially since my tequila flight was starting to kick in!
- Pollo – Chicken Ropa Vieja, Queso Fresco, Crema, Radish
- Carne Kobe – Flat Iron Steak, Truffle Potato, Tomato-Horseradish Escabeche, Yukon Fries
- Mahi Mahi – Chipotle Remoulade, Avocado, Red Cabbage and Lime
- Carnitas – Pulled Pork, Black Beans, Pineapple Salsa
- Camarones y Chorizo - Shrimp
- Lengua – Tongue, Cebolla Criolla, Salsa Verde (I was a little scared to try this one)
- Carne al Carbon – Marinated Hangar Steak, Salsa Verde, Radish
Bartender told me I wouldn’t regret the Mahi Mahi and I didn’t! I seem to have this new problem where I don’t want to eat pretty food however with a little coaxing I was able to take a bite and after the first bite I then devoured them.
|Mahi Mahi Tacos|
CHULETAS DE CORDERO
Mary had a little lamb and I ate it—that one never gets old! These lamb chops were marinated to PERFECTION. With smoked bacon atole, chanterelle escabeche and 3 Chile BBQ, I knew I had a winner. It really doesn’t get any better than that. The only thing that would make this dish better is if I could have more!
|Chuletas de Cordero|
EL FUERTE “FOR TWO”
When I glanced at the dessert menu my bartender and two others said that the El Fuerte “is the best item on the menu”. Before the dessert came out I was a little concerned about the size since it says that it is “for two”. I didn’t want to look like a total cow by sitting at the bar alone and chomping down on a dessert for two—but a Gourmand Girl has to do what a Gourmand Girl has to do!
|El Fuerte NOT "For Two"|
It was love at first bite! No doubt and let me also add that this is NOT “for two”. I enjoyed every single ounce of the flourless chocolate cake with espresso ice cream; a true chocolate lovers dream.
After I finished my dessert, I relaxed even more on the swings at the upstairs bar and just swung and watched all of the people enjoying the contagious upbeat Distrito vibe. My bartender got 5-out-of-5 and I was able to end my night on a happy note. If you ask me if all the drama was worth it, I would say yes and if you ask me if I would go through it again, I would say ABSOLUTELY. Especially for the El Fuerte!
|Distrito Downstairs Bar|
Epicurean Girl’s Conclusion: 4 VIPsDistrito gets a rating of 4 VIPs.