Jose Garces Truckin’ at Revel

Jose Garces’ Distrito Cantina brings his Philly-based Guapos Tacos food truck concept to Revel

By Frank Gabriel
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Apr. 17, 2013

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Chef Jose Garces (r) with Michael Fiorillo, 
culinary director at Garces Group

Photo by Craig Billow

One of the most glaring regional casualties of our economic recession endured during the last few years has been Atlantic City’s selection of late-night dining.

While longtime local standouts like A.C. Bar and Grill, Ducktown Tavern and Tony’s Baltimore Grill still continue to serve up plentiful grub well through the wee hours of the morning, the casino industry has scaled back on its late-night offerings.

We’ve taken notice of this personally during several overnights in the resort this past winter.

In a locale that — to borrow the words of another Jersey-born Frank — literally “never sleeps,” it’s a bit of a disheartening phenomenon.

Directly bucking that trend is the Revel-based, Jose Garces-conceived, Distrito Cantina.

One of a trio of his eateries within the resort — others being the authentic, upscale Andulusian tapas bar Amada (225-9900; more on them later in this feature) and classic American tavern concept Village Whiskey (225-9880) — Garces’ Distrito Cantina is actually sort of hybrid, with counter space providing a lively margarita bar and victuals served up from within a customized, stationary food truck modeled after Garces’ highly-successful Philadelphia-based Guapos Tacos vehicle.

The truck itself is wildly colorful, decorated with thousands of vintage soda caps.

Its location, permanently posted up just steps from Ovation Hall, allows concert and event revelers easy access to world-class casual cuisine.

The bar serves up more than 60 varieties of tequila — suddenly the trendiest of all distilled spirits — including a signature “Jefe” (or “Chef”) margarita featuring Don Julio resposado, Combier (the world’s first Triple Sec, conceived by Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Combier and wife Josephine in 1834) and lime.

Foods presented are classic Mexican street fare, elevated via Garces’ Iron Chef skill set — stuff like to-order guacamole with mashed avocado, jalapeno, cotija cheese and house-made tortilla chips; pozole, the traditional Latino family soup of corn hominy, made chic by the addition of little neck clams, chorizo and red chile; carnitas, pulled pork with black beans and pineapple salsa and esquites, a Northern Mexican specialty composed of toasted sweet corn blended with queso fresco and chipotle.

The best part of Distrito Cantina’s concept just might be its late-night accessibility.

Currently open some Thursdays — when significant events are taking place within the resort — Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, the eatery operates until at least midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, often staying open till 2am.

Once the summer season rolls forward, they anticipate serving food daily until midnight, later on the weekends.

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