27 Spots for a Fancy Pants Date

Last modified on August 17th, 2017 at 10:00 am

Planning on a wedding proposal with the good ol’ engagement ring in a frosty mug of Bud Light? No?

Champagne and wine might be more romantic. You probably want candlelight and a nice ambiance too.

While Tucson no longer has the classiest of restaurants where a jacket is required, it’s bursting with romantic restaurants where you wouldn’t be out of place if you dressed to the nines.

For a special occasion or fancy pants date with your significant other, check out these restaurants.

47 Scott / Scott & Co.

47 Scott Ave.
Scott & Co. is now connected to 47 Scott via a door near the entrance (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Scott & Co. is now connected to 47 Scott via a door near the entrance (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Downtown’s original neighborhood bistro, 47 Scott features an intimate dining room with fresh flowers at every table. The small-but-sophisticated menu includes elevated approachable items such as the Stack of Grilled Cheese and elegant options such as the Phyllo-Wrapped Chicken. Head next door to the speakeasy Scott & Co., one of Tucson’s pioneers of modern craft cocktails.

For more information, visit 47scott.com.

Agustin Kitchen

100 S. Avenida del Convento, Ste #150
Baked Oysters at Agustin Kitchen (Photo by Jackie Tran)

Baked Oysters at Agustin Kitchen (Photo by Jackie Tran)

The white walls and accents of marble and rustic woods create a refined charm that are only heightened by the location in the Old World-inspired Mercado San Agustin. Start the evening with some oysters and transition to any of the brasserie fare proudly showcasing ingredients from a hefty list of local purveyors.

For more information, visit agustinkitchen.com.

Arizona Inn

2200 E. Elm St.
Old Fashioned at Arizona Inn (Credit: Adam Lehrman)

Old Fashioned at Arizona Inn (Credit: Adam Lehrman)

One of the fancier dining rooms in Tucson, Arizona Inn features cuisine with southwestern and Mediterranean inspiration.

For more information, visit arizonainn.com.

Cafe Poca Cosa

110 E. Pennington St.
Main Dining Room at Cafe Poca Cosa (Photo Credit: Cafe Poca Cosa)

Main Dining Room at Cafe Poca Cosa (Photo Credit: Cafe Poca Cosa)

The sleek interior provides the backdroup for owner and chef Suzana Davila’s signature cuisine and legendary mole. The Plato Poca Cosa offers a trio of entrees on one plate, making it ideal for adventurous eaters. If each person orders a Plato Poca Cosa, no two entrees will be repeated.

For more information, visit cafepocacosatucson.com.

Casa Vicente

375 S. Stone Ave.
(Credit: Casa Vicente)

(Credit: Casa Vicente)

While the sangria, paella, and morcilla are all worth the trip to Casa Vicente, the live Spanish music deserves at least as much love. Flamenco from world-class guitarists such as Misael Barraza Díaz provides a romantic yet energetic mood. They’re currently closed for renovations without an estimated reopening date yet, so keep an eye on Casa Vicente Restaurante on Facebook for updates.

For more information, visit casavicente.com.

Charro Steak

188 E. Broadway Blvd.
New York Strip Steak en Estillo Charro at Charro Steak (Credit: Jackie Tran)

New York Strip Steak en Estillo Charro at Charro Steak (Credit: Jackie Tran)

The wooden tables and rusted metal provide a distinctively Tucson vibe to match Charro Steak’s distinctively Tucson take on steakhouse cuisine. The kitchen cooks the hand-cut steaks as requested with remarkable consistency. Though the ranch-to-table beef is the star, the shareable side dishes are eye-openingly addictive and the desserts are creative.

For more information, visit charrosteak.com.

Cielos at Lodge on the Desert

306 N. Alvernon Way
Foie Gras alla Plancha at Lodge on the Desert (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Foie Gras alla Plancha at Lodge on the Desert (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Lodge on the Desert renamed their restaurant as Cielos, which came with a new menu and new chef. Summer’s seasonal menu feature dishes such as Duck Breast with pickled grapes, heirloom beets, heirloom carrots, purple cauliflower purée, and balsamic honey reduction .

For more information, visit lodgeonthedesert.com.

Commoner & Co.

6960 E. Sunrise Dr.
Melon Gimlet at Commoner & Co. (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Melon Gimlet at Commoner & Co. (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Even though Commoner’s menu is filled with comfort food, it’s presented with grace and style to match the posh environment and mountain view. The elegant Airline Chicken is cooked sous vide for unrivaled juiciness, while the Scallops are seared to perfection.

For more information, visit commonertucson.com.

Contigo Latin Kitchen

3770 E. Sunrise Dr.
Paella at Contigo Latin Kitchen (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Paella at Contigo Latin Kitchen (Credit: Jackie Tran)

For traditional recipes from South America and Spain, go to Contigo just south of the Westin La Paloma. The Parrillada is a mixed grill for two including rib eye steak, chorizo, morcilla, lamb chop, roast marrow, salsa verde, chimichurri, and seasonal vegetables. Paella for four is available when ordered a day in advance, made with your choice of shellfish, chicken, rabbit, or chorizo.

For more information, visit eatatcontigo.com.

CORE Kitchen & Wine Bar

15000 N. Secret Springs Dr.
Achiote Pork Chop at CORE Kitchen & Wine Bar, Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain

Achiote Pork Chop at CORE Kitchen & Wine Bar, Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain (Credit: Adam Lehrman)

Even Freddie Mercury sang about “dining at the Ritz” due to their golden standard of quality. Make the drive to the Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain to dine at CORE and experience some of the best luxury available around Tucson. The adjoining citrus grove provides outstandingly fresh oranges, grapefruits, and tangelos.

For more information, visit ritzcarlton.com.

The Coronet

402 E. 9th St.
The Coronet (Credit: Jackie Tran)

The Coronet patio (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Agustin Kitchen’s sister restaurant the Coronet features Old World cuisine with a patio reminiscent of a Paris sidewalk. The custom Mission tiles inside provide a vintage, worldly touch. The delightful bistro fare and sophisticated cocktails meld perfectly with the live music on the patio.

For more information, visit cafecoronet.com.

DOWNTOWN Kitchen + Cocktails

135 S. 6th Ave.
Oaxacan fries with mole at Downtown Kitchen + Cocktails (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Oaxacan fries with mole at Downtown Kitchen + Cocktails (Credit: Jackie Tran)

James Beard award-winning chef Janos Wilder serves up refined dishes from around the globe at DOWNTOWN. Admire the local art adorning the walls as you dine on the Seared Duck Breast, Mole Negro, Pomegranate or Grilled Rib Steak Romesco and finish with the signature Dark Chocolate Jalapeño Ice Cream Sundae.

For more information, visit downtownkitchen.com.

The Grill at Hacienda Del Sol

5501 N. Hacienda Del Sol Rd.
Grilled Octopus at The Grill at Hacienda del Sol (Credit: Adam Lehrman)

Grilled Octopus at The Grill at Hacienda del Sol (Credit: Adam Lehrman)

A long-time seeker of local purveyors for their top notch kitchen, the Grill also features over 900 labels and 6000 bottles of wine, earning them “The Award of Ultimate Distinction” by Wine Enthusiasts Magazine and “Best Of Award of Excellence” designation from Wine Spectator for 16 consecutive years. The brunch is also easily one of the most extravagant in town.

For more information, visit haciendadelsol.com.

Elvira’s Restaurant Tequila Cocina Vino

256 E. Congress St.
Elvira's dining room a few days before the grand opening (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Elvira’s dining room a few days before the grand opening (Credit: Jackie Tran)

The tall glass windows show off the gorgeous ceiling lanterns and lights, but they also unfortunately seal in the aroma of the complex moles. Come inside to try the traditional mole poblano, guajillo-spiced mole pipian rojo, and anise-scented mole xiqueño. Don’t miss the Chile Poblano “Frida Kahlo” when it’s in season.

Keep up with Elvira’s on Facebook.

Flying V Bar & Grill

7000 N. Resort Dr.
Chili Rubbed Ahi Tuna at Flying V Bar & Grill (Credit: Jennifer Stash)

Chili Rubbed Ahi Tuna at Flying V Bar & Grill (Credit: Jennifer Stash)

The fireplace and warm woods provide a cozy vibe that complements the comforting yet sophisticated dishes. Get a hold of the guacamoliere for some fresh guacamole prepared tableside.

For more information, visit loewshotels.com.

Kingfisher

2564 E. Grant Rd.
Oysters and a martini at Kingfisher (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Oysters and a martini at Kingfisher (Credit: Jackie Tran)

The bar is great for first dates, but sit in the jazzy main dining room for the signature Kingfisher experience. Straightforward, well-executed American regional cuisine and seafood has maintained a loyal following since the restaurant’s opening in 1993. Chef Jim Murphy’s no-fuss old-school talent has made him an icon among other local chefs.

For more information, visit kingfishertucson.com.

Le Rendez-vous

3844 E. Fort Lowell Rd.
Boeuf Wellington (Credit: Le Rendez-Vous)

Boeuf Wellington (Credit: Le Rendez-Vous)

For a classically French experience, order the Chateaubriand Béarnaise Sauce For 2. Other French delicacies such as Escargots, Soupe à l’Oignon Gratinée, and Charlotte Verrine are also available. You might want to peek at the menu ahead of time so you get a chance to practice the pronunciation on most of the items.

For more information, visit rendezvoustucson.com.

Maynards Market & Kitchen

400 N. Toole Ave.
Panzanella Salad at Maynards Market & Kitchen (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Panzanella Salad at Maynards Market & Kitchen (Credit: Jackie Tran)

To enjoy a more contemporary approach on Old World cuisine, head into the dining room at Maynards. The Fresh Oysters, Steak Tartare, and Hudson Valley Foie Gras all highlight top-notch ingredients. The dessert menu also offers twists on classic desserts such as the Meyer Lemon Goat Cheese Cheesecake and Spiced Flourless Chocolate Torte.

For more information, visit maynardstucson.com.

Miraval Arizona Resort & Spa

5000 E. Vía Estancia Miraval
Tableside cocktails with programming chef Gabe Nabor at Miraval Arizona (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Tableside cocktails with programming chef Gabe Nabor at Miraval Arizona (Credit: Jackie Tran)

The resort is more New Age than fancy pants, but the Chef’s Table dinner (known as Just Cook For Me Chef!) is one of the most sublime experiences you can treat someone to in Tucson. You’re greeted with a pour of champagne as you arrive and the courses are divine. The experience requires advance reservations and three to four guests, so make it a double date.

For more information, visit miravalresorts.com.

Penca

50 E. Broadway Blvd.
Grouper with mole verde at Penca Restaurante (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Grouper with mole verde at Penca Restaurante (Credit: Jackie Tran)

The cuisine of Central Mexico is different than the Sonoran style Tucsonans are used to, making a breath of fresh air on a night out. Though tacos are available, take advantage of the intimate bar and dining room with a flight of mezcals and orders of the stunning Chile en Nogada and Costillas de Res.

For more information, visit pencarestaurante.com.

Primo

3800 W. Starr Pass Blvd.
Meyer lemon Budino (Photo by Jackie Tran)

Meyer Lemon Budino (Photo by Jackie Tran)

The outstanding 100%-scratch Italian kitchen and stunning views of the Tucson Mountains are enough to charm any food lover and Tucson lover.

For more information, visit marriott.com.

PY Steakhouse

5655 W. Valencia Rd.
Alaskan halibut at PY Steakhouse (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Alaskan halibut at PY Steakhouse (Credit: Jackie Tran)

The Casino Del Sol Resort is a drive southwest, but it’s worth it to enjoy the talent of executive chef Ryan Clark, chef de cuisine Roderick LeDesma, sous chef Gabrielle Thomas, and property mixologist Aaron DeFeo. The culinary team has the talent to cook even a pig face into something glamorous, but the 24 oz. Porterhouse is a prime marvel. DeFeo’s French Cowboy cocktail features pear-infused VSOP cognac, black truffle, Rancio Sec, lemon, and honey absinthe.

For more information, visit casinodelsol.com.

Senae Thai Bistro

63 E. Congress St.
Som Thum at Senae Thai Bistro (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Som Thum at Senae Thai Bistro (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Although Tucson has its fair share of Thai restaurants, chef Dee Buizer steps up the game at Senae with hyperlocal ingredients and a well-curated wine list. Many of the ingredients are grown walking distance from the restaurant. The upstairs mezzanine offers seating with additional privacy.

For more information, visit senaethai.com.

Tanque Verde Ranch

14301 E. Speedway Blvd.
Sunrise view from Tanque Verde Ranch (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Sunrise view from Tanque Verde Ranch (Credit: Jackie Tran)

For one of the most stunning Tucson views, visit the Tanque Verde Ranch nestled in the Rincon Mountains adjacent to Saguaro National Park and Coronado National Forest. The candle-lit private Chef Dinners features six courses with wine pairings are available with a reservation. The chefs are happy to chat with every course, making it an interactive experience.

For more information, visit tanqueverderanch.com.

Tavolino Ristorante Italiano

2890 E. Skyline Dr.
Salumi at Tavolino Ristorante Italiano (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Salumi at Tavolino Ristorante Italiano (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Cuisine a la northern Italian grandmas stars at Tavolino. The fresh pastas and wood-fired pizzas are the main draws, but the Tuscan-style rotisserie meats are to die for. Tavolino is also proud to feature wine produced from Chef Tenino’s brother Paolo Tenino.

For more information, visit tavolinoristorante.com.

Vivace

6440 N. Campbell Ave.
(Credit: Vivace Restaurant)

(Credit: Vivace Restaurant)

Daniel Scordato’s flagship restaurant Vivace earned a spot on OpenTable’s 100 Most Scenic Restaurants in America list, so it’s in good company. The panoramic mountain view is best during daylight, while the Tucson city lights twinkle at night. Do yourself a favor and make and advance reservation to ensure you get your favorite seat.

For more information, visit vivacetucson.com.

Wild Garlic Grill

2530 N. 1st Ave.
New Zealand Rack of Lamb at Wild Garlic Grill (Credit: Jackie Tran)

New Zealand Rack of Lamb at Wild Garlic Grill (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Even though Wild Garlic Grill is one of the most affordable options on the list, the food and service is superb enough to bring in crowds every night. The upcoming relocation to the Foothills will only help the vibe.

For more information, visit wildgarlicgrill.com.

Where’s your favorite romantic date spot in Tucson? Let us know in the comments.

Jackie is a food writer and photographer native to Tucson. He enjoys neon-lit dinners and long crab walks on the beach. If you'd like to stalk him, visit jackietran.com.
  • Edd Vinci

    How is the Flying V missing from this List? The Lowes waterside stop is only Rated #1 on Trip Advisor. I have been going here for 15 years .some on your list should not be but this one is MIA.

    • Jackie

      Hi Edd,

      Thanks for your feedback. I’ve heard great things about Flying V but haven’t had the chance to check it out myself yet. I’m swinging by suggested restaurants whenever possible so I can update the article as needed.

  • Ellen

    Some of these places are so noisy that you have to shout at your dining companion. Not exactly romantic! For a restaurant where you can actually carry on a conversation, the Arizona Inn cannot be beat.