What'll it be this New Year's Eve? Will you play it safe by dining at a tried-and-true favorite, or break new ground at one of the many restaurants that opened this year?
Either way, you're in luck. Restaurants across the city are pulling out all the stops to make your last meal of the year something to remember. Many places are filling up quickly, too, so make reservations early—and don't forget to arrange for a safe ride home, if necessary.
Here are just some of the dining options available on New Year's Eve.
Let's start up north at the Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain, 15000 N. Secret Springs Drive in Marana, where the party lasts the entire New Year's Eve weekend. Dining options on New Year's Eve include sushi in the Ignite Lounge; s'mores around outdoor fire pits; multicourse dinners at CORE Kitchen and Wine Bar; dive-in movies with poolside hot apple cider; champagne and chocolate bars; fireworks; and much more. Call 572-3000 for reservations.
A little closer to Tucson, revelers at Noble Hops Gastropub, 1335 W. Lambert Lane in Oro Valley, will welcome the coming year with craft beers in hand. A three-course prime-rib dinner costs $29.95 per person, and there's an outdoor area with a fireplace and a heater, which makes for lovely al fresco dining this time of year. Call 797-4677; noblehopspub.com.
The new Union Public House, 4340 N. Campbell Ave., is offering pan-seared scallops, short-rib ragout, deconstructed duck Wellington and other dishes. It also has a great patio and an outdoor fireplace. The cost is $100 per couple. Call 329-8575 to reserve; www.uniontucson.com.
Down the street at Acacia Real Food and Cocktails, 3001 E. Skyline Drive, chef Albert Hall is offering five courses for $95 per person. Expect popcorn polenta with porcini mushrooms, brie and pâte feuilletée; Nova Scotia lobster; Russian wild-boar sausage; fallow deer flambéed with apricots; and more. Call 232-0101; www.acaciatucson.com.
If Asian fare is what you seek, Bushi Traditional Japanese and Asian Cuisine, 4689 E. Speedway Blvd., has you covered. Master sushi chef Shunichi Funakoshiya will be working his Asian-fusion-food magic with specials like Thai calamari and shishito tempura. Be brave, and try a wasabi-sake martini, or play it safe with a Midori saketini. The Ronstadt Generations take the stage at 10 p.m.; $10 in advance; $15 at the door. Call 325-6552; www.bushicuisine.com.
Laugh in the new year at Laffs Comedy Café's end-of-year chuckle-fest. The 7 p.m. seating features a choice of sirloin beef tips, chicken breast smothered in herb sauce, or grilled salmon. Tickets are $49.95 per couple and include champagne and comedy by Michael Malone. The midnight breakfast bash has all-you-can-eat eggs, sausage, potatoes, fruit and more. Tickets are $59.95 per couple, comedy show and champagne included. Laffs is at 2900 E. Broadway Blvd.; call 323-8669; laffstucson.com.
Chef Ryan Clark of the restaurant at Lodge on the Desert, 306 N. Alvernon Way, is offering seatings from 4 to 11 p.m., and his new winter menu has something for just about everyone. New Year's Eve additions include prime rib and lobster tail. Consider trying one of the inventive libations as well, like horchata-and-whiskey, or Irish soda made with Chartreuse and a Guinness reduction. Call 320-2014; www.lodgeonthedesert.com.
The Cup Café at Hotel Congress, 311 E. Congress St., has steamed scallops, New York strip, butternut-squash hummus, ceviche and much more. The seatings at 5 and 7 p.m. are $65 per person; the 10 p.m. seating is $75, which includes admission to the Aztec Apocalypse party at Club Congress. The regular menu will be available from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call 798-1618; www.hotelcongress.com.
Across the street at Maynards Market and Kitchen, 400 N. Toole Ave., you will find six courses, including venison chops and roasted quail, at 4, 6 and 9 p.m. Prices range from $75 per person to $115. Add $35 for wine pairings. Call 545-0577; www.maynardsmarket.com.
All three of Janos Wilder's restaurants are offering special menus. Downtown Kitchen + Cocktails (135 S. Sixth Ave.; 623-7700; www.downtownkitchen.com) has curried lobster; lemon, ginger and coconut soup; and more for $40 to $55. Janos, the restaurant (3770 E. Sunrise Drive; 615-6100; www.janos.com), offers consommé with foie-gras custard and brandy-flamed mushrooms; filet mignon with chanterelles; and more for $75. The adjacent J-BAR has three or four courses of items such as lobster, chipotle-and-white-cheddar enchiladas, and mushroom tamalitos for $35 to $45.
Heading east to Jonathan's Cork, at 6320 E. Tanque Verde Road, it's grilled pork chops; fish fillets stuffed with Danish blue cheese; and mesquite-smoked chicken. Prices range from $17 to $30. Call 296-1631; www.jonathanscork.com.
Also out east, Dakota Café and Catering Company (6541 E. Tanque Verde Road, No. 7; 298-7188; www.dakotacafetucson.com) will have surf and turf—beef tenderloin and lobster tail—for $32. New Year's Eve hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and the regular menu will also be available.
The Abbey Eat + Drink, 6960 E. Sunrise Drive, has three courses from 4 to 5:30 p.m. for $40, or $50 from 5:30 to 11 p.m. An optional wine pairing will also be available. Call 299-3132; www.theabbeytucson.com.
Feast (3719 E. Speedway Blvd.) opens at 11 a.m. on New Year's Eve, with a special prix-fixe menu available from 5 to 9 p.m. for $65, and a wine pairing for an additional $35. The menu wasn't available at press time, but Doug Levy's culinary mastery leaves nothing to be desired.Call 326-9363; www.eatatfeast.com.
If curry is your thing, consider making reservations at V Fine Thai Dining, at 9 E. Congress St. Chef Redman Jarrell makes some utterly delicious and fragrant Thai food, and the ambiance is elegant yet comfortable. Prices range from $10 to $30, and there's an after-party with appetizers, party favors and drink specials.Call 882-8143; www.vilathai.com.
Other restaurants offering specials include Kingfisher Bar and Grill (2564 E. Grant Road); Pastiche Modern Eatery (3025 N. Campbell Ave.); Vero Amore (3305 N. Swan Road, No. 105); and Delectables Restaurant and Catering (533 N. Fourth Ave.).
Several places are also offering special deals on New Year's Day. Bushi Traditional Japanese and Asian Cuisine has a traditional Japanese "osechi set" dinner. Both Mama's Hawaiian Barbecue locations (850 E. Speedway Blvd.; 15990 S. Rancho Sahuarita Blvd., No. 180) are offering $5 specials on selected items. And Ghini's French Caffe (1803 E. Prince Road) will serve breakfast until 2 p.m., with specials on mimosas and Endurox recovery drinks.
Eat well, Tucson. We'll see you next year.