Romantic Restaurant in Tucson
My husband and I will be spending our anniversary in Tucson. We are staying at the Arizona Inn and looking for a delicious restaurant with full bar for our anniversary dinner. We are both adventurous diners, appreciate both hole-in-the-wall and upscale places. Because we live near a city saturated with amazing Asian food (San Francisco) we would prefer other cuisines. We ate at Poca Cosa last visit and loved it but want to try another place.
Thanks for all the tips, Chowhounds! We ended up at JBar. We got there before sunset so we could explore the gardens a bit. Everything about the place was good. The service was outstanding, the food was excellent and we managed to stay within our $100 budget (okay, with tax and tip, it was $106).
We started with cocktails. I had the special which was a mojito-ish drink made with basil instead of mint. We started with a calamari appetizer which had enough food to be a meal portion. I had the chilaquiles casserole which was layers of birria, cheese, tortillas and vegies. My husband had a pulled pork dish that was also excellent as well.
The portions were huge.
(Strangely, I got an email mid-dinner telling me that JBar was canceling my reservation.)
So for $106, we got four cocktails, a great meal, an after-dinner grappa for my husband and an espresso for me in an outstanding location.
What's not to love?
Depends on which you place more value on--setting or food--but if willing to go for decent food in a really stunning location, take a look at McClintock's. The food may not blow you away (although I did enjoy my steak there quite a bit), but the location and even the drive up there is beautiful, and I would think pretty romantic (especially if seated during sunset). It's definitely worth the trip, in my opinion.
Note 1: restaurant is actually in Marana, ~40 minute drive from central Tucson, but quite scenic once you get out of the strip malls, etc. Not sure if drive time is a factor for you.
There is not a more spectacular drive than the one to McClintock's, but the food is doesn't match the setting.
Primo has a wonderful sunset city view, and I love the food (apps are great, and save room for zeppole). If you order wine by the glass, it might meet your budget.
Don't eat at the AZ inn - we went there for our anniversary, and my dinner was inedible. I told the waiter, who only said "Oh." No apologies, no subs, no nothing.
3800 W Starr Pass Blvd, Tucson, AZ
I'd give another vote for Janos. For something more casual we've always enjoyed the adjacent J-Bar. Particularly if it's a nice evening, the patio would be a nice place for a drink before or after dinner.
As for the AZ Inn, we love staying there but have been disappointed in the dining room in the past. Breakfast is fine but dinner hasn't impressed the two times we've eaten dinner there, the most recently last summer. We swore after future dinners after giving two tries. I'd definitely recommend going elsewhere for dinner and enjoying the other lovely parts of the hotel.
You should actually be able to eat at JBar for around $100, depending on how high a bar bill you run up(we're not big drinker so have never run up that big of a bill there). The patio is really nice and the weather has been great so that might be a good option with the view. We actually prefer JBar to the more formal Janos most of the time as we're not typically looking for formal, special occasion eating in Tucson(that said we did very much enjoy Janos last time we were there). http://www.janos.com/jbar_menu.php
We enjoyed our dinner at Tavolino last week and that would fit your budget (again depending on your alcohol bill) but it's not really near your hotel(Oracle and Ina). http://www.tavolinoristorante.com/
The two that immediately come to my mind are Janos and the Ventana Room. I think that both would qualify as takes on cuisine that one is not that likely to encounter in SF - expecially Janos.
Enjoy, and happy anniversary,
3770 E Sunrise Dr, Tucson, AZ 85718
7000 N Resort Dr, Tucson, AZ 85750
I think the Grill at Hacienda del Sol and Janos are the two best special occasion restaurants in Tucson. The Grill wins the prize for a beautiful setting. I was there just a few hours ago, and the gardens you walk through from parking lot to restaurant are spectacular. The room is very pretty, rustic but elegant.
I also happened to be at La Paloma for a charity function after the lecture at HDS. Janos is housed in separate building, and the room is also very pretty (in a more glamorous way.) The entrance, though, is from a hotel parking garage, with an upper and lower level. Eh.
Food at the Grill is great, wine list large and carefully selected, with a heavy emphasis on South American reds. The owners are great people who put their heart and soul into the place.
Janos is also a great chef who puts his all into his places. He has a big reputation for SW ingredients prepared with French techniques. His wine selection is also very large.
Service at both restaurants is first rate. Tell them you're celebrating. Both places will take good care of you, with extra treats, etc.
The Arizona Inn also has a beautiful setting, and a very pretty dining room. The chef just left in the last few days, however, and my wife had a bad lunch there a few weeks ago. Nothing beats the romantic dinner with a walk through the garden to your room, however.
You can stay at HDS or La Paloma. Rooms at HDS were not great when we stayed there a few years ago. May be better now. La Paloma is a big convention hotel, with no charm whatsoever.