The Little One

Health Food | Mexican | Southwestern | Vegan-Friendly | Vegetarian
Worth driving from anywhere!

We first came upon The Little One when it was called Little Cafe Poca Cosa, many years ago. We had 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. The Little One 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.

The Little One is 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.

The Little One 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.

What to Eat
The Little One, Huevos Rancheros
Huevos Rancheros
The chili atop the eggs on a plate of huevos rancheros is intensely flavorful. Not insanely hot, but essence of the pod.
The Little One, Gigantic Vegan Tostada
Gigantic Vegan Tostada
A gigantic vegan tostada includes pinto beans, greens, root veggies, and a cup of salsa ranchera. Cheese is optional.
The Little One, Gazpacho
When gazpacho is on the blackboard menu at lunch, it's a must. Sandra told us 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.'
The Little One, Beet Orange Lemon Lime Juice
Beet Orange Lemon Lime Juice
Beets, oranges, lemons, and limes make one hugely refreshing juice.
The Little One, Sampler
This sampler plate includes a green corn tamale (on top) and chilies rellenos (left).
The Little One, Salsa
Nothing at The Little One is ordinary. The salsa that comes with chips is a vivid ode to the flavor of chilies.
The Little One, Pork Chipotle Tacos
Pork Chipotle Tacos
A pork chipotle taco is rich and smoky.
The Little One, Cochinito en Creama de Chipotle
Cochinito en Creama de Chipotle
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.
The Little One, Ginger Basil Pineapple Juice
Ginger Basil Pineapple Juice
The juices here are creative and refreshing. This is ginger, basil and pineapple.
The Little One, Breakfast Combination
Breakfast Combination
Known on the menu as breakfast combination, it features a chile relleno, a green corn tamal, one egg, fruit and salad. What a great way to start your day!
Directions and Hours
closed now
Monday8am - 2pm
Tuesday8am - 2pm
Wednesday8am - 2pm
Thursday8am - 2pm
Friday8am - 2pm
This restaurant is featured in the following eating tours.
5 stops | 8 MILES | 27 min

Among the countless Mexican restaurants in Tucson, these five give the best feel for the amazing range of styles and specialties, from the outlandish Sonoran hot dogs at El Guero Canelo to humble neighborhood tacos at Pico de Gallo, and to chef Suzanna Davila's magnificent meals at Cafe Poca Cosa, where you never know what…

Open Year Round
Meals Served
Breakfast, Lunch
Credit Cards Accepted
Alcohol Served
Outdoor Seating

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