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Distrito vs Pod: The University City Dining Days Comparison - Part 2


Distrito - Jose Garces

Continued from Part I on August 3, 2010....

Distrito was a whole different story. Jose Garces also receives points for interior design. Although it can’t really hold a candle to Pod’s exciting futuristic look, it does score in the charm department, with a buggy car table, stairways lined with lucha libre masks and porch-swing seating. Like Pod, Distrito took liberties with the University City Dining Days promotion but in a much more eater friendly fashion.

Adding a tapas twist, each diner is allowed a choice of two appetizers, two entrees and a desert, rather than the other way around. Their Mexican menu was much more exotic than Pod’s, and I intended to take advantage. I began with a tortilla soup and yellowtail ceviche, and what a start it was. The soup was excellent; bold, spicy and full of resilient flavors. The 

Distrito - Jose Garces

ceviche was also spectacular, and personally one of the best appetizers I’ve ever had. The flavors were bursting with a citrusy sweetness that really brought the yellowtail to life, as well as a beautiful presentation.

My entrée portions took an unfortunate step down. The jumbo lump crab enchilada was completely overpowered by the sour salsa verde, which there was no getting past. My second entrée, Mole Amarillo, fared much better, topped with an excellent rabbit loin and too much rice. The pineapple provided a nice sweetness that cut through the savory rabbit, adding dimension to the dish. My desert, a 3-milk cake, was delicious and moist and an excellent ending to an excellent meal.

Distrito - Jose Garces

My verdict in the University City Showdown? Jose Garces, by knock out. Pod seemed to participate reluctantly in the promotion, lending an uninspired menu and adding its own rules as if they were dragged in kicking and screaming for fear of bad press. Distrito, on the other hand, used the event to showcase itself as one of the most exciting restaurants in Philadelphia. I’m not turned off by Stephen Starr; I’ve been wowed plenty of times by his restaurants to know better, and my experience at Pod was more the exception to the rule than the rule itself. I likely won’t be going back.

Distrito, on the other hand; my next reservation can’t come soon enough.



3945 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-3621

(215) 222-1657


Mon-Thu 11:30am-10pm;
Fri 11:30am-11pm;
Sat 11am-11pm;
Sun 11am-10pm