November 16, 2008 |
There are two characters cagily circling the plates of spice and wonder at Distrito, West Philly's hot new taco and tequila palace. And I'm not talking about the Mexican wrestlers in sparkly masks who smack flesh in the lucha libre movies continuously projected over this loco pink-and-green dining room. Jose Garces is grappling with the ghost of his first big success. These days, of course, he's become the Latin cruiserweight champ of Philly chefs, an Iron Chef-slayer extraordinaire, our Spanish tapas king.
September 25, 2008 |
Jose Garces was Latino way before Latino was cool. Before it was prefixed with nuevo. Before the Chicago of his childhood had a single Latin restaurant - "zero," he recalls - though the occasional taqueria had begun to sprout. He is a stocky, serious, focused 36 now, the toast of the town - a recent Iron Chef win under his belt, three tapas restaurants, Amada, Tinto and Distrito, climbing the charts, with one (Peruvian-Chinese Chifa) on the way. Maybe two, if you count the low-key-burger-high-end-whiskey joint he has up his sleeve.
August 28, 2008 |
LEAVE IT to Jose Garces to capture the crazy, wonderful, delicious world of Mexico City's cuisine under one roof. He's done exactly that at Distrito, the energetic two-story space he recently opened at 3945 Chestnut St. in West Philadelphia. "What I love about Mexico City is how it can be so urban, with street food everywhere, and so sophisticated at the same time. There's two different spectrums in terms of food," said Garces, who, along with his culinary and design team, spent eight days chowing his way through the city in February.
July 13, 2006 |
Chef Jose Garces left the glittering cocoon of Stephen Starr's organization, where he helmed Alma de Cuba and then El Vez, to open Amada, his intoxicating Spanish tapas establishment in Old City. He did so, however, with considerable trepidation. "I was petrified," Garces says, sitting near the immense marble bar crowned by three hanging Serrano hams, $210 apiece. Garces, 33, certainly doesn't look petrified. He doesn't look like a man on the brink of creating a gustatory empire, either, which he appears to be. "I basically signed my life away.