Two restaurants remain in the fight for the title of Tucson’s most romantic dining hot spot, in Caliente’s Candlelight Madness competition.
Downtown’s Café Poca Cosa squeaked out a victory by the narrowest of margins over Caruso’s Italian Restaurant this week, with a final vote tally of 58-56.
On the other side of the bracket, the historic Arizona Inn in midtown was no match for Harvest, a relative newcomer to Tucson-area dining.
The Oro Valley restaurant, open for business since 2008, throttled the boutique resort hotel by nearly 20 votes, resulting in a 67-48 win.
Reza Shapouri, who bought Harvest with his wife, Lisa in 2011, attributes the triumph to a mix of romantic atmosphere and tasty cuisine.
Shapouri was a dining consultant and distributor before taking over Harvest. He said February has been a good month for them.
“The last two Valentine’s Days were booked well in advance,” he said. “There is nothing like the type of locally sourced food that we do, on this side of town. You have to drive to midtown or downtown to get the type of food we serve.”
The young upstart will have its work cut out for it as it comes up against Poca Cosa in the final round.
Owner Suzana Davila has turned her modern Mexican concept into a downtown staple over the last 29 years.
For the last eight, she has held court at the corner of East Pennington Street and South Scott Avenue. Before that, she was at the Santa Rita Hotel on East Broadway.
“The restaurant continues to be popular,” Davila said. “I keep knocking on wood and lighting up candles. People are still coming.”
Like Harvest, Café Poca Cosa is “crazy busy” during Valentine’s Day, Davila said, but date-night dinners are available year-round.
“At night, there is subdued lighting and a romantic ambience,” she added. “It makes the whole thing really sweet.”