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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Exceptional food at Café Poca Cosa

    Ivan Copado, server at CafǸ Roca Cosa on 110 E. Pennington St., changes the menu on Saturday. CafǸ Roca Cosa changes the menu twice a day and has been in business for 25 years, the last three years at the current location.
    Ivan Copado, server at CafǸ Roca Cosa on 110 E. Pennington St., changes the menu on Saturday. CafǸ Roca Cosa changes the menu twice a day and has been in business for 25 years, the last three years at the current location.

    Tucked in the Pennington Street garage is Café Poca Cosa. This small, private but lively restaurant offers exceptional Mexican fare and a one of a kind ambiance. The chef, Suzana Davila, brings an inventive and unique twist to the food she serves – that of her native Mexico. Davila cooks not only the food of Sonora, where she grew up, but of the entire country.

    The restaurant is decorated with lively explosions of bright colors and traditional folk art. Its visual appeal of the space, paired with the staff’s individual attention, creates a romantic and relaxing experience. Each table seems to be attended to promptly and kept happy throughout the entire meal.

    One of the unique features of Café Poca Cosa is its untraditional menu. Rather than give copies of the menu for each customer to view, the meals are written on a blackboard that is taken to each table. Upon its arrival at the table, the server explains every detail of the intricately composed dishes, right down to the sauces and garnish.

    Why take such an unusual approach to the menu? Because it changes twice daily and about 200 dishes cycle throughout the year. A tradition menu offers short and concise explanations, but a human touch to the deconstruction of each dish allows the diner to understand how the chef created the dish. This interesting approach adds to the restaurant’s appeal and heightens the feeling of personal attention and care. It feels more like home cooking. The ever-changing menu and attention to detail were just some of the elements that set Café Poca Cosa apart from Tucson’s plethora of Mexican restaurants.

    Beyond its striking decoration and attention to each diner, Café Poca Cosa’s out-of-the-ordinary service highlights and works with the array of succulent and intensely flavored dishes, which beautifully capture the essence of their ingredients.

    Generally, there are two or three dishes of chicken, beef and pork offered with at least one vegetarian option and one fish option. The Plato Poca Cosa is the restaurant’s must-have dish. A chef-selected mix of three great helpings of the day’s menu offering are served as a surprise. You have no say in what makes it on to your plate.

    On one visit the mix included pastel de elote con marron, pollo habenero con queso, and pescado con espárragos. The pastel de elote con marron was a sweet and savory tamale pie unlike other tamale in town. Its sweetness was juxtaposed sensuously with the mild heat and savoriness of the pollo habenero con queso. The latter was a mix of heat and spices that resulted in a taste explosion. It was like taking a sip of Sprite when you expect water – but in a good way.

    The only mildly disappointing dish was the pescado con esparrago, which was a cod filet that had a slightly fishy taste. The best market fresh fish doesn’t taste or smell “”fishy”” and the cod definitely had a hint of it. The dish was heavy on mushrooms and light on asparagus. My dinner date ordered the pechuga lentejas de ranchera, a spicy and composed chicken dish centered on a mild tomato sauce. The blend of spices and herbs melted together into the tomato base and all of the dish’s flavors culminated in the tender and juicy chicken breast.

    The salsas, sauces and moles offered at Café Poca Cosa are harmoniously put together, blending all sorts of interesting and essential Mexican flavors. Every spice synonymous with Mexican cooking – oregano, chiles, cinnamon, black pepper, clove and tamarindo, among others – were all there. Each meal is served with a basket of hot corn tortillas and bowls of beans and rice to be shared. Café Poca Cosa also boasts exceptional chips and mild and sweet salsa for pre-dinner snacking.

    Dining at gourmet establishments is not limited to the upper-class foodie by any means. Although Café Poca Cosa is at a higher price point than most college students, young adults, or money wise spenders like to see with dishes ranging from $19 to $25, it is worth the extra money. When compared to a $14 meal at Olive Garden, stopping at Café Poca Cosa for a special occasion is a no brainer, even for lunch or a spontaneous nice dinner out. Why not splurge a bit? This Tucson original offers high quality food, generous portions, and a truly sensuous dining experience that makes is well worth the price.

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