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Distrito's first floor was renovated into Distrito Taqueria, a casual dining venue separate from the more formal restaurant upstairs. | DP File Photo

Credit: Luke Chen

Chef Jose Garces gave Distrito a makeover — just in time for some start-of-the-semester stress eating.

Seven years into operation, Distrito’s first floor has been completely renovated into Distrito Taqueria, a casual, vibrant and affordable eatery distinct from the original restaurant on the floor above.

The renovation means that Penn students need not travel far for affordable Mexican food. Inspired by the street food heritage of Mexico City’s taco shops, a new menu offers $3.50 tacos, $9.50 burritos and $9.50 quesadillas, which rival the pricing of Frontera and Honest Toms and can be prepared with a selection of nine fillings.

Along with the traditional soups, salads and appetizers, a full bar is also available, featuring Distrito’s signature margaritas.

The renovation brings a casual flair to the 40th and Chestnut restaurant, featuring market lights, swing set seating, picnic benches and seating emblazoned with glitter and floral patterns.

The Volkswagen beetle seating area has been relocated to the center of the dining room, and a new karaoke lounge can seat up to 20 guests — with room on stage for a singer. A CD-based jukebox accompanies the flat-screen televisions around the perimeter of the taqueria, and an AstroTurf host area leaves guests ready for a rustic culinary experience.

Six hundred lucha libre masks adorn the wall alongside the stairs dividing the top and bottom levels, adding even more cultural panache.

The second floor of the restaurant has also been updated with an open layout and new furniture, though the original Distrito menu remains the same.

The Garces group’s first Philadelphia restaurant, tapas purveyor Amada, will celebrate its 10th anniversary in October.

The group’s 7th and Walnut Rosa Blanca restaurant, a Cuban- and Caribbean-inspired venue, is in the midst of a renovation as well. After closing in early June, it will reopen this fall as a coffee rum bar concept.

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