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Little Cafe Poca Cosa

151 N. Stone Ave., Tucson, AZ -
Posted By Michael Stern on 7/29/2014 4:53:00 AM
We first came upon Little Cafe Poca Cosa many years ago, having just discovered its big-sister restaurant, Cafe Poca Cosa, which was then located in a cheesy downtown hotel. Cafe Poca Cosa has since moved to very classy digs and has crystallized its status as a beacon of creative Mexican food. Little Cafe Poca Cosa continues as it always was: a boisterous, colorful, party-time eatery. Luis Davila, who created it, has passed on; his daughter, Sandra Davila, maintains all the restaurant's unique charms and has added her own – a warm hug for just about everyone who walks in the door, friend or newcomer.

Like her father, Sandra is a character whose personality infuses the whole dining experience. She is one of those restaurateurs who seems to be everywhere, up front and in the kitchen, all the time. Her enthusiasm for the food, the restaurant, and for life in general is contagious. When we stop in one day for lunch, she shows off a really nice belt she is wearing, made of javalina and including a scabbard for a knife she "uses all day, for everything." Its handle, she notes, was made from a mesquite tree in her back yard.

Little Cafe Poca Cosa a breakfast and lunch place, and one of its specialties is juice – incredible juice, such as one amazing refresher extracted from beets, mandarin oranges, lemons, and limes. At breakfast you can dine on huevos rancheros, the eggs enveloped in vivid red chili sauce, the plate also holding rice, lettuce, and a brace of fruit: pineapple, strawberry, and watermelon. Or start the day with huevos Mexicanos, scrambled with tomatoes, onions, and chilies; or machaca con huevo, which mixes moist shreds of beef with bits of green chile in a veil of scrambled egg.

Vegetarians can eat very well here. We rarely can resist at least one order of the tamale de elote – a souffle-like swirl of corn meal, sweet corn, green chilies, and cheese steamed to comforting warmth inside a corn husk. Chile relleno is another meatless meal, served in a mild salsa ranchero redolent of tomatoes. Vegans with big appetites will want to know about the "Gigantic Vegan Tostada," which is a spill of pinto beans and seasonal vegetables atop a broad fried corn tortilla. Salsa ranchero comes on the side.

Moles are sensational. A thick mix of bittersweet chocolate, red chilies, ground peanuts, sesame seeds, and pumpkin seeds becomes a lush, syrupy mole negro that is dazzling on a chicken breast, or as part of a platter of cheese-stuffed quesadillas.

Little Cafe Poca Cosa is not just a place to eat. It is a significant presence in the community. A blackboard in the dining room lists the charities and good causes in Tucson and south of the border to which customers' donations are given: an elementary school, an orphanage, a children's breakfast program, a girl who needs an operation.

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Scorecard

5 - Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Huevos Rancheros
Pork Chipotle Tacos
Gigantic Vegan Tostada
Cochinito en Creama de Chipotle
Gazpacho
Sampler
Beet Orange Lemon Lime Juice
Salsa
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Reviewers Photos [Upload Your Photos]

Shredded pork simmered in achiato berries is sweet, lush, just a little hot with subtle citrus zing. Although it comes wrapped in tortillas, it is way too messy to pick up and eat by hand.
"Shredded pork simmered in achiato berries is sweet, lush, just a little hot with subtle citrus zing. Although it comes wrapped in tortillas, it is way too messy to pick up and eat by hand."
Michael Stern





Beets, oranges, lemons, and limes make one hugely refreshing juice.
"Beets, oranges, lemons, and limes make one hugely refreshing juice."
Michael Stern


The chili atop the eggs on a plate of huevos rancheros is intensely flavorful. Not insanely hot, but essence of the pod.
"The chili atop the eggs on a plate of huevos rancheros is intensely flavorful. Not insanely hot, but essence of the pod."
Michael Stern


When gazpacho is on the blackboard menu at lunch, it's a must. It is made with roasted poblano chilies and roasted tomatoes. Sandra told us that her secret is to not peel the roasted peppers. 'To me,' she said, 'the burnt part of the skin is what has all the good flavor.'
"When gazpacho is on the blackboard menu at lunch, it's a must. It is made with roasted poblano chilies and roasted tomatoes. Sandra told us that her secret is to not peel the roasted peppers. 'To me,' she said, 'the burnt part of the skin is what has all the good flavor.'"
Michael Stern


Mid-morning at Little Cafe Poca Cosa is fairly quiet. At lunch, the joint will be jumping.
"Mid-morning at Little Cafe Poca Cosa is fairly quiet. At lunch, the joint will be jumping."
Michael Stern


A pork chipotle taco is rich and smoky.
"A pork chipotle taco is rich and smoky."
Michael Stern


Little Cafe Poca Cosa is a one-of-a-kind Tucson gem. It has no phone number and no website. Reservations are not accepted. Business is cash only.
"Little Cafe Poca Cosa is a one-of-a-kind Tucson gem. It has no phone number and no website. Reservations are not accepted. Business is cash only."
Michael Stern


This sampler plate includes a green corn tamale (on top) and chilies rellenos (left).
"This sampler plate includes a green corn tamale (on top) and chilies rellenos (left)."
Michael Stern


A gigantic vegan tostada includes pinto beans, greens, root veggies, and a cup of salsa ranchera. Cheese is optional.
"A gigantic vegan tostada includes pinto beans, greens, root veggies, and a cup of salsa ranchera. Cheese is optional."
Michael Stern


Nothing at Little Cafe Poca Cosa is ordinary. The salsa that comes with chips is a vivid ode to the flavor of chilies.
"Nothing at Little Cafe Poca Cosa is ordinary. The salsa that comes with chips is a vivid ode to the flavor of chilies."
Michael Stern


Proprietor Sandra Davila is known for tooling around town on her Harley.
"Proprietor Sandra Davila is known for tooling around town on her Harley."
Michael Stern



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