I had one night for a solo dinner of my choice while staying in University City - Distrito was a great pick - ate at the upstairs bar on Tuesday night. The place is huge and even though there were probably 100 people there, it seemed kind of empty.
The decor is upbeat and the music is lively. Bartender Colleen was outstanding with both the food and drinks.
I was surprised by the deep frying of the hamachi tacos, but they were the best San Diego style fish tacos I have had on the east cost - really great. The zucchini quesadillas were also really good. The tres leches dessert was as decadently sweet and delicious as expected. The real standout for me was the coconut lobster chowder, however - it was really memorable - lots of depth and balance of flavors including the lime and peanuts in the right proportion.
I hope to get back there soon and try some ceviche, nachos, and other items!
I was visiting from the San Francisco Bay area last week, staying in University City, and managed to snag an Open Table reservation at Distrito my first night in. This got my Philadelphia Chowhounding off to a great start!
Everything I had was full of flavor, freshness, and invention. I love octopus dishes and the octupus ceviche made a great starter. The plantains came out next and were rich and tasty. This was followed by another winning dish: red snapper with pipian and poblano (and unadvertised, and quite wonderful, pickled watermelon). With the small portions there was room for a light dessert, and the paletas - three narrow strawberry, coconut, and lime popsicles with corresponding garnishes - made a great finish.
The list of local microbrews is carefully chosen to cover a wide range of styles. I was very happy with my selection of Flying Fish Pale Ale, but it seemed like it would be hard to go wrong there.
If there were a version of this place as close to Stanford as this is to Penn, I would be in heaven!
We ate there last night.
I liked it, even liked it a lot. I wouldn't put it up with amada, though. Maybe it's a preference thing - I like spanish flavors more than mexican, in general. I also thought that amada was a bit more polished. distrito is a bit more casual, though, which is nice (i was wearing shorts, gf in running shoes, and we felt totally comfortable there).
ordered 5 plates for 2 people. A shrimp/chorizo taco, a scallop/pineapple kabob, a mushroom flatbread/open-quesedilla-ish thing, an octopus ceviche, and i'm pretty sure that we ordered a rabbit mole.
the ceviche and the kabob were probably the 2 best things we ordered. everything was tasty. i'll say this about all the garces places - i find that there's just too much flavor in each dish, there's no backdrop. the salt quantities also start to add up. for me, i prefer having some sort of basic starch with a meal, even if it's just some good bread or a plate of rice. at amada we asked for some bread, which really helped. here, they only had chips, which were good but added to the overall saltiness. (not that we didn't see that coming, of course).
generally friendly service, but not quite at the level it should be. at one point a waitress (not the one we'd seen thus far) brought us a plate we hadn't ordered, some sort of melted cheese thing that wasn't anytihng like what we'd ordered. later the same thing, we thought, when they brought a duck mole when we'd ordered rabbit. this time, though, our waiter came back and said that he thought we ordered duck. so we said ok (i'd hestitated btwn the 2, and it's not like i ever make that sort of mistake, although gf also pretty sure i said rabbit). kind of regretted taking the duck, as it's a much fattier meat. it was still good, though.
for drinks, i had the house margarita, which was very good. although i'm no conneisseur (as i noted in another thread, i even tend to prefer the slurpee-style ones, so feel free to disregard any of my margarita suggestions).
for dessert, gf got the sorbet/ice creams, you get 3 little scoops for $6 or 7, decent deal and they were quite good. I got the churros, which were really good - the chocolate was amazing - and a surprisingly large amount of churros for the price.
so overall, i like the place quite a bit. i like amada significanlty more. (I've eaten at tinto, but just once and only had a few things...).
re: Bob Loblaw
I went last week and was very impressed. Beyond the glitz and fantastic eye for design of the interior, the food was delicious.
I had a pineapple margarita with fresh bits of pineapple floating inside. For dinner we had crab taco, short rib tacos, and carnitas tacos. All were delicious with the crab being our favorite.
The service was friendly and attentive. Not a bad add to the Penn/Drexel environment.
The ones I went to on the first floor were fine - individual bathrooms, with the sinks outside.Although the one I went into actually had a sink inside, maybe I was in the handicapped bathroom. I'm not sure how they could possibly be construed, however, as the worst or most uncomfortable in town. That honor has to go to either Dirty Frank's or McGlincheys.
Made it to Distrito last night - celebrating a friend's bday and I was so excited this is where he chose to go. I was rather suprised at how empty it felt, but think once school is back in session it may fill up more. The decor is great - reminds me a lot of Starr restaurants - el vez, pod and continental. So different from Amada and Tinto, but it's fun and nice to see him changing it up.
We started with the guacamole which was yummy and had a bit of spice to it, the chips were very simple and nice as well. Only problem was that I was drinking a Michelada at the time as well - think bloody mary but with beer - so I was a bit overspiced. The beers were all reasonably priced, and I love a good Mexican cerveza - especially in the summertime, but the margaritas seemed ridiculously overpriced for their size (fresh fruit margaritas - yes they looked amazing - but $14 for a tumbler sized glass?)
Next I had the Platanos y Crema - plantains and queso fresco, served over a black bean puree. Nothing super fancy but one of my favorite dishes in general and it was fantastic. Then my tacos - Carnitas - came out, these were also really delicous. Each taco order comes with two - they're not your standard taco size but still pretty well stocked with ingrediants. The tortillas were fresh and the pineapple salsa added the right amount of sweetness to the pork (think tacos al pastor but more upscale). I also had a huarache - the chilango. A huarache (which means sandal) is a long, oval shaped tortilla topped with different ingrediants usually cheese and meats. The Chilango had carnitas, chorizo, serrano ham, potato and cheese - all which sounded like it was going to be super yummy. I found it pretty salty which I guess can be expected from the meats and the cheese, my friend thought maybe they needed some type of salsa to counter balance it out.
A lot of the other dishes that went out looked pretty tasty - I'm excited to get back there and try out some more.
i agree that the place seemed empty! it's a 250-seater, very ambitious. and it's a pricey place in a college neighborhood, don't know if that matters. i think location was weird, but given the location the decor was right on. it would be very easy to feel old in there!
oh, was i just hearing things, or does he have a fourth place (asian) coming in the spot that was formerly 707 at 7th & chestnut? any news / menu / opening date info?
yup - suppose to be open next year - it's an Asian/Latin menu (based on the chinese-peruvian influence) called Chifa based on the food of same name. he's going to be taking his chefs and designers on week long Peru and China trips for inspiration. And there's rumors of really cool "ceviche bar" idea
Went to Distrito this past Friday. Didn't have a reservation at 7pm but we were seated right away- my guess is that will not be the case for long. Lots of different styles of seating- we sat at a little half-moon bench for two that was cute (although the table was tiny!). Service was very friendly and attentive. A singer with a guitar was walking around singing Guantanamera, Besame Mucho, etc. It was a little bit much for me, with the pink and all, but fun.
My margarita was very strong (or maybe my tolerance is low). Started getting drunk 1/4 way through it and had a headache the whole next day despite drinking lots of H2O. I will try to accurately portray the food, although I was in a bit of a haze!
They brought out the food one dish at a time.
First we had the guacamole- fresh and simple. Next was the tuna ceviche with a coconut sauce and lime sorbet. Tasty and unusual- provoked some discussion! The pulled pork and pineapple tacos followed and went down easy...a different take on tacos al pastor. Kobe beef tacos were also delicious, but between the two, the pork wins. Next we had the esquites, basically corn con queso with a kick and lots of gooey sauce. I loved this. Reminded me of the corn side dish at El Vez but easier to eat (and less messy!) as the corn is served off the cob. Lastly, we had the platanos con crema. This was the only dish I could have done without, thought the beans and cheese were unnecessary- would have been happier with just plantains. For dessert we had the churros and the tres leches cake. Churros were fresh and served with chocolate. Good, but the tres leches was the favorite.
In summary, I was impressed with the food although a little put off by the decor. I think it distracts from the food and just was a little too much cheese for me. But I can see why people might like it and I have no doubt that I will be returning if only for the tres leches cake...
Had dinner at Distrito last night. The food is
excellent. Just as good as Tinto and Amada
Had the yellow tail cerviche ,tuna taco had two different
huaraches, shrimp on a skewer Everything was
perfect. We had dinner for five including
one drink each and one dessert The total
with tip about $250. Very fun atmosphere
well done interior. Would go back anytime
re: Philly Ray
hey, my S.O.'s b-day is Aug 1st too! we're still trying to decide where to go. i just ate at distrito, and she works at parc, so that about does it for new and trendy... :)
anyway, for a place that is only one week old i was very impressed with distrito! it very much showed they were a new place, but thankfully not in the areas where it mattered. service was genuine and friendly (which is obviously what they were aiming for). decor is wild and pink! there's bar space aplenty which i loved. food was really, really good. i let the bar staff take care of me with their own recommendations to make a tasting menu. i had:
- a margarita
- a carefully concocted cocktail called a hemingway, a mix of grapefruit juice, maraschino cherry and chile-infused tequila (and possibly a few other things). it works.
- a very simple tomato salad - big thick juicy tomato slices with sliced avocado atop, and a lemon olive oil dressing with tons of herbs. so simple, so good. long live tomatoes.
- a spicy shrimp ceviche with plantains
- quesadillas, which were yummy little moons of summer squash perfectly fried and salty with some black bean and avocado puree on the side. mmm so good! they looked like funky little samosas. actually, thinking back on it, the perfect little eye trick (because they look indian) would be to add a red tomato salsa to the black bean and avocado purees, which could have passed for tamarind and mint chutneys, respectively. the tomato one might fool the eye to be an onion chutney. just a thought. :) anyway, as i voiced to anyone who would listen, quesadillas are practically a derogatory term to call these little mexican samosas. when you think quesadilla, you think (or at least i think) floppy stale triangles filled with subpar melty cheese. probably the best thing i had.
- fish tacos with ?radish? garnish. these were tasty, however unmemorable compared to the rest. honestly, they weren't fishy enough. probably because they were fried. i'd switch out the fish for one that doesn't need deep frying, blacken it instead, and then it would be gorgeous and fishy.
the only reasons i mentioned previously they seem like a new resto are small overlookable things. a few glasses broken, a few over-anxious (to describe the dishes) runners who sometimes got ahead of themselves and had to think back on their ingredients list. none of that is stuff i mind. for a place that's only been open a few days i was impressed.
all in all very happy with my last-minute distrito decision (a friend had texted me about his experience there which i read while i was on train just outside 30th st station, and made a last minute call and exited the train for an early dinner!). oh, and i should mention there is a cute (but not open yet) private karaoke room (very cute). oh, and the bathroom doors are very confusing and hard to lock after 2 strong drinks. that's not like me!
anyway, i think your wife will be happy with the distrito pick - do report back! :)