WHAT: University City truly is international, and boasts not only a diverse population, but restaurants that feature menus from the Middle East to Mexico City. There have been several changes in the U. City dining scene throughout the past few months and a couple of new additions. The Current took a look at just a sampling.
DISTRITO: The reviews of Jose Garces’ latest restaurant are in—and they’re fabulous. Inquirer food critic Craig LaBan gave it three bells in the Nov. 16 issue and the eatery was one of just two in the city to make Esquire’s list of top 20 new restaurants this year. Taking a look at the sophisticated menu, it’s easy to see why. The ceviches, especially, are reason enough to eat there, with a selection of octopus, red snapper, shrimp, big eye tuna and yellowtail. Generous margaritas, creamy guacamole (with or without crab) and the wall of lucha libre masks make this dining experience playful and fun, as well as a treat for your palate. Distrito serves lunch and dinner and is located in The Hub, 3945 Chestnut St. Call 215-222-1657 or go to www.distritorestaurant.com for more information.
THE MIDDLE EAST: A little over a block away, patrons can sample spicy chicken kebab, crispy (but not greasy) falafel and creamy, garlicky hummus at the appropriately named eatery, Hummus. The restaurant features all of the standard Middle Eastern favorites—from Greek salads with veggies and chunks of feta cheese to shawarma, marinated chicken thighs slowly cooked until tender. This small eatery has already won accolades from City Paper for its friendly service and intoxicating Turkish coffee. Hummus is located at 3931 Walnut St. For more information, call 215-222-5300 or go to www.hummusrestaurant.com.
GO NAKED: Since Naked Chocolate opened its doors in early November, the small storefront has been packed with patrons hungry to satisfy a sweet tooth without having to cross the Schuylkill. And what a place to do it. This new University City outpost of the Center City dessert cafe features chocolate-covered pretzels, mini Belgian waffles dipped in chocolate, gourmet hot chocolate drinks and a wide selection of cupcakes. Whether you prefer light, dark or white chocolate—or even a vanilla cupcake with vanilla icing—this bakery-cafe will satisfy your craving. Naked Chocolate is located at 3421 Walnut St.
SPORTS NIGHT: If you like a little beer with your sports-watching, check out Mikey's American Grill & Sports Bar, located in the space formerly occupied by the Italian eatery Ecco Qui. The main attraction? Eight—count ‘em, eight—flat screen TVs. Mikey’s is located at 3180 Chestnut St. For more information, call 215-222-3226.
UP-AND-COMING: Keep your eyes peeled for three new eateries coming to the ground floor of The Radian, located at 3925 Walnut St.: Burrito chain Chipotle, sandwich shop Jimmy John's and Rittenhouse gelato gem Capogiro.
Originally published on December 4, 2008