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Café Poca Cosa

110 E. Pennington St., Tucson, AZ - (520) 622-6400
Posted By Michael Stern on 12/22/2012 1:51:00 PM
Café Poca Cosa has moved to a somewhat spectacular new location on E. Pennington in downtown Tucson. Gone is the explosion of colorful folk art everywhere. In its place is a sweeping, stylish dining room with objects of Mexican art on display as if in a museum. It's a cooler environment than before, perhaps not as hospitable-seeming as it once was. But the black-clad staff was nothing if not polite and solicitous; and more important, the food is on the same level of excellence that first put this place on the map of great southwest restaurants.

Proprietor Susanna Davila is an inspired chef, with a menu that changes a couple of times a day to reflect what chilies, spices, vegetables, and ingredients are fresh in the kitchen, and what her whim dictates. When you are seated, you are shown a portable blackboard with about a dozen choices on it, virtually all of which need to be explained. Nothing on this menu is familiar; certainly, there are no tacos, enchiladas, or burritos! Nor are there appetizers and side dishes from which to choose. Each dinner comes complete on a plate with exactly what the chef believes it should have.

You will find some glorious chicken molés, or perhaps the variant of molé known as pollo en pipian, for which boneless chicken is cosseted in sauce made from bitter chocolate, crushed red chilies, Spanish peanuts, pumpkin seeds, and cloves. You will always find a tamale pie (pasatel de elote) on the menu as a vegetarian alternative. But even if you are a devoted meat-eater, you must have it, for this tamale pie, is creamy comfort food supreme, tender as a soufflé, always dressed up a little differently, topped with vivid green chili puree or a sweet mango sauce or, on our most recent visit, curried carrots.

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Scorecard

5 - Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Tamale Pie
Chicken in Pumpkin Seed Mole
Plato Poca Cosa
Flan
chicken mole
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Reviewers Photos [Upload Your Photos]

The tamale pie one day in mid July was listed as pastel de elote en zarahoria India. The creamy corn fluff was topped with spicy curried carrots. An inspired duet!
"The tamale pie one day in mid July was listed as pastel de elote en zarahoria India. The creamy corn fluff was topped with spicy curried carrots. An inspired duet!"
Michael Stern





Whole chicken breasts painted with a dark mole negro flavored with Tia Maria: complex, enticing, unbelievably delicious
"Whole chicken breasts painted with a dark mole negro flavored with Tia Maria: complex, enticing, unbelievably delicious"
Michael Stern


This tamale pie is topped with a puree of sweet potatoes spiced up with cinnamon. When I worried that it wouldn't be spicy enough, the waiter suggested he bring out a dish of chopped habaneros and jalapenos. That sure made it hot enough!
"This tamale pie is topped with a puree of sweet potatoes spiced up with cinnamon. When I worried that it wouldn't be spicy enough, the waiter suggested he bring out a dish of chopped habaneros and jalapenos. That sure made it hot enough!"
Michael Stern


This vividly spiced carne asada is spiced up with guero peppers.
"This vividly spiced carne asada is spiced up with guero peppers. "
Michael Stern


The margarita is as delicious as it is beautiful.
"The margarita is as delicious as it is beautiful."
Anne Ritchings


This square of creamy flan comes with enough syrup to sweeten every spoonful.
"This square of creamy flan comes with enough syrup to sweeten every spoonful."
Michael Stern


The chocolate cheesecake reminds me of a thick chocolate silk pie with cherries and flecks of orange zest.
"The chocolate cheesecake reminds me of a thick chocolate silk pie with cherries and flecks of orange zest."
Anne Ritchings


Pollo chile colorado, carne asada with green peppers, onions, and roasted tomatoes, and a tamale con salsa blanco.
"Pollo chile colorado, carne asada with green peppers, onions, and roasted tomatoes, and a tamale con salsa blanco."
Anne Ritchings


Tamale enrobed in a beet sauce, polla mole amarillo, and carne in a chipotle/plum sauce.
"Tamale enrobed in a beet sauce, polla mole amarillo, and carne in a chipotle/plum sauce."
Anne Ritchings


The menu changes at least twice each day, depending on what ingredients chef Susanna Davila has on hand, and what she feels like cooking at any particular time.
"The menu changes at least twice each day, depending on what ingredients chef Susanna Davila has on hand, and what she feels like cooking at any particular time."
Michael Stern


What a bounty of riches!
"What a bounty of riches!"
Anne Ritchings


A large, pleasant room with warm and inviting decor.
"A large, pleasant room with warm and inviting decor."
Anne Ritchings


The new location of Cafe Poca Cosa does little to suggest the charm of the food within.
"The new location of Cafe Poca Cosa does little to suggest the charm of the food within."
Michael Stern


Tamale pie is usually the only vegetarian dinner on the menu, but it's NOT for vegetarians only.  Every table needs to order at least one portion!
"Tamale pie is usually the only vegetarian dinner on the menu, but it's NOT for vegetarians only. Every table needs to order at least one portion!"
Michael Stern



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