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Distrito: All grown up

Posted on: March 4th, 2013 by Taryn Jeffries No Comments

I have loved Distrito from the first sip of white sangria that I had on my inaugural visit. The food is a given, with Chef Jose Garces lovingly creating a creative and inspiring menu. One of my favorite things about Distrito was the eclectic and youthful decor; from the wall of sugar skulls that greeted you at the reception desk to the quirky clothespin light fixtures and did I forget to mention the glittery tables in the bar? With the revamping of the restaurant decor and an update to the menu, sadly, these items are now gone. They have warmed up the space giving a more modern and masculine feel in the hopes that the decor and menu will have more cohesiveness. During our visit, the revamp wasn’t 100 percent complete, so I will be interested to see what the final product looks like and am hopeful that it will be equally endearing.

The food and service, as always, was impeccable. There have been a few menu changes, nothing cataclysmic though, just some tweaks and additions to fit the season. They have added a Taco Bar option which is sure to be filling and very well rounded. For $25 (with a 2 person minimum for the order) you will receive the following: Chicken Ropa Vieja, Grilled Hanger Steak, Hongos con Rajas, Black Beans, Avocado, Salsa Mexicana and Salsa Verde. Also, instead of all small plate offerings, they are now featuring large plates for those looking for entree sized portions. One of the more decadent additions to the menu’s small plates section is the Higado de Pate ($23); seared foie gras, pan dulce, pedro ximenez and mango.

Along with the tried and true cocktail selections, be sure to try some of their Mezcal additions. We tried the Fresas Ahumadas ($12) which contains los nahuales joven, basil, serrano, reduced balsamic syrup, fresh strawberries and lime juice. This drink was perfectly smoky and the citrus aspect helped mellow it all out.

We started out our meal with the impeccable guacamole ($10). I have to say, Distrito guac is a favorite of mine. I am an odd bird and have an aversion to onions, especially the raw kind that you often find in guacamole. If there are onions in their guac – I would never know. I focus on and savor the large pieces of avocado and the delightful tang of the lime juice.

Distrito Guacamole

Distrito Guacamole

Next up – Rellenitos ($7) and the Gordita ($6). The Rellenitos are ricotta-stuffed anaheim chile with a smoked tomato sofrito. I liked the slight heat of these with the creaminess of the ricotta, but my heart was with the Gordita. The wagyu beef picadillo, queso oaxaca and chayote-carrot slaw was handheld crispy perfection. The beef was tender and succulent and would have been amazing alone, but having been paired with the slightly picked flavor of the slaw and the golden crispy texture of the gordita took it to rockstar status. I could have eaten a platter of those…but it only came with one and our small plates were on the way!

Rellenitos

Rellenitos

Gordita

Gordita

The Sopa de Maiz ($11) was on recommendation from a friend and I need to bake her a cake as this dish, from start to finish, was spectacular. It is a sweet corn soup with a huitlacoche quesadilla, caviar and creme fraiche. The dish was plated at our table and was a gorgeous presentation. The soup was sweet, full bodied and creamy. The quesadilla I saved for last, ensuring that it would soak up all the rich flavors of the soup and, if I do say so myself, genius! Amazingly enough the tasty treat had kept its structure and little of the crispness. I will definitely be back for this dish time and time again– no matter the weather outside. With the lovefest I was having with my soup, I didn’t take the time to try my dining companion’s Enchilada de Pollo ($14), created with chicken, chihuahua cheese, epazote and red chili sauce. She did, however, tell me that it was perfectly spicy and creamy – full of flavor and complexity in each bite.

Sopa de Maiz

Sopa de Maiz

Enchilada de Pollo

Enchilada de Pollo

I found myself having a tough time choosing an entree and left it up to our favorite server, Megan, to choose for me and I love her even more for her selection. I had the Chuletas de Cordero ($30), a Colorado lamb chop served with fingerling potatoes, chorizo, pipian verde and sheep’s crema. The lamb chop was huge and presently perfectly at medium rare. The crema and pipian verde created such rich flavors that I could barely eat a third of the large portion, though each bite that I had was heavenly. My dinner date chose the Camarones al Ajillo ($17), jumbo garlic prawns with blistered cherry tomatoes, green olives and a jalapeno aioli. Her shrimp were huge and gently caramelized. The flavors were akin to fireworks in your mouth with the jalapeno aioli playing center stage like the over-the-top finale.

Chuletas de Cordero

Chuletas de Cordero

 Camarones al Ajillo


Camarones al Ajillo

Distrito continues to delight me with each visit and I am really looking forward to seeing how the makeover turns out, but I do hope they leave the pom-pom wall!

Distrito is located within The Saguaro Hotel at 4000 N. Drinkwater Boulevard. Call (480) 970-4444 or visit Distrito for more information or reservations.

*This meal was provided to us complimentary as a part of a media invitation. However, this has no effect on our opinions and comments regarding our experience. View our Disclosure Policy for further explanation.

About the Author - Taryn Jeffries

Editor and Chief Eating Officer of PhoenixBites, 2017 Food Writer of the Year (Arizona Culinary Hall of Fame) Taryn grew up in a small town in Illinois with a doting Grandmother who taught her the way around a kitchen and that food is representative of love. Her current quest is to find the love in local dishes and the chefs behind them. In addition to running all things PhoenixBites, Taryn is also a freelance writer, sharing her insight on the best dishes and where to get them each and every month.

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