WHILE IT SEEMS the holiday season has just begun, it's already time to get specific about Millennium Eve plans.
A quick call around town indicates that for those planning to dine out on New Year's Eve, a providentially placed reservation now may spare you Dick Clark's company later. Several of Tucson's most elegant restaurants have already sold out for the evening, or have only a few openings left. Plan early with suggestions from the following list.
Westward Look Resort. 245 E. Ina Road. 297-1151. The Gold Room has already sold out for the millennium evening, but if you'd like to rock the night away from this classic resort, space is still available in the Ball Room and the Pavilion. The Pavilion will feature a Sonoran buffet dinner and musical entertainment by Johnny and the Night Train. Cost is $186 per couple. The Ball Room will be serving a four-course champagne dinner featuring a smoked duck and mushroom ragout appetizer, squash and lobster bisque, filet of beef and lobster tail, and a marbled chocolate dessert cup. Glenn Miller and the Glen Tones will provide a musical backdrop. Cost is $292 per couple.
The Tack Room. 7300 E. Vactor Ranch Trail. 722-2800. Tucson's most venerable fine dining establishment offers two seatings on New Year's Eve; the earlier 6 p.m. seating has already sold out. If dining fashionably late appeals to you, make a reservation for 9:30 p.m. and dine to the strains of angelic harp music with a four-course meal chosen from a limited menu. Party favors will be passed out close to midnight. Cost is $99 per person, and libations are not included.
Janos and the J-Bar. 3700 E. Sunrise Drive. (Westin La Paloma Resort). 615-6100. Janos will offer a six-course tasting menu to welcome the start of a new millennium, an elegant repast that includes a commemorative etched champagne glass. Music by Go For Baroque will provide the perfect background sounds. Cost is $150 per person without wine, $225 per person with wines matched to each course. The J-Bar will feature a four-course meal at $50 per person without wine, $75 per person with. Seatings for both restaurants begin at 5:30 p.m.
The Ventana Room and The Flying V. 7000 N. Resort Drive. (Loews Ventana Canyon Resort). 299-2800. Two New Year's Eve seatings at the Ventana Room -- one at 5:30 to 6 p.m. and the other from 8 to 9:30 p.m. -- will highlight a six-course gourmet tasting menu. Champagne is included with the meal, although the music by the Martha Reed Trio is available only for the later seating. Cost is $200 per person for the first seating and $300 per person for the later option. At the Flying V Bar & Grill a four-course tasting menu for $200 per person is offered along with the music of Ismael Barajas. If you'd like to forego dinner, enjoy music and dancing for $50 per person.
Cielos Restaurant. 306 N. Alvernon Way (in the Lodge on the Desert). 325-3434. Cielos will celebrate the millennium event with an early 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. seating that features a four-course meal with champagne for $95 a person. The "full" party (complete with party favors, music and dancing) begins at 8:30 p.m. and features a five-course meal at $150 per person. For those who make it through the night, the restaurant will also host a "Survivor's Brunch" -- showcasing an excess of food and pastries, as well as complimentary Bloody Marys and mimosas -- on January 1 for $25 per person.
Daniel's Restaurant. 4340 N. Campbell Ave. (In St. Philips Plaza). 742-3200. Daniel's is currently accepting reservations for a four-course meal reflecting the restaurant's regular à la carte menu. A complimentary glass of champagne is included, and cost is $100 per person. Seating times range from 5:30 to 11:15 p.m. The restaurant requires patrons to guarantee their spots with a major credit card.
The Dish Restaurant. 3200 E. Speedway Blvd. (In the back of Rumrunner Wine & Cheese Co.). 326-1714. This popular bistro is scheduling a series of two-hour seatings beginning at 5:30 p.m. and ending at 10:30 p.m. While most of the middle time slots are already filled, there is still some room available for early birds and late-night revelers. The Dish will be featuring a special "pick-as-you-go" à la carte menu including excerpts from the current seasonal menu. As usual, Master Chef Doug Levy will have a few mouthwatering specials up his sleeve to ring in the New Year with panache.
Fuego Restaurant Bar & Grill. 6958 E. Tanque Verde Road. 886-1745. A special five-course menu will accentuate the dawn of another golden age at Fuego. Cost is $75 per person without accompanying wines and $100 per person with. The last seating will be at 10 p.m., and although the exact details of the menu are still being worked out, the evening promises exceptional fare.
Elle A Wine Country Restaurant. 3048 E. Broadway Blvd. 327-0500. A three or four-course prix fixe menu (still being designed at press time) will be the star attraction of Elle's New Year's bash. Organizers are hoping to keep meal costs down by not including wine; cost is expected to range between $35 and $40 a person. Dinner will be served until 11 p.m.
Anthony's in the Catalinas. 6440 N. Campbell Ave. 299-1771. A limited menu featuring a four-course dinner will be the highlight at Anthony's, one of the Foothills' most elegant dining establishments. At $125 per person, the menu will be the "best of the best" according to a restaurant spokesman. Party favors, a commemorative champagne glass, a pianist and a three-piece combo will complement the fine dining in grand party fashion. A 50 percent deposit is required to secure reservations, but is entirely refundable if reservations are canceled up to two weeks before the event.
Kingfisher Bar & Grill. 2564 E. Grant Road. 323-7739. Favorite items from Kingfisher's menu over the past year, accompanied by "a bunch of champagne," will usher in the new year. Mary Baker, with Jim Dixon on keyboard, will provide music. Reservations are filling up quickly.
Le Rendezvous. 3844 E. Ft Lowell Road. 323-6136. Again, details are still being hammered out at press time, but this très chic French restaurant is planning a special evening featuring a prix fixe menu with a choice of selected entrees, appetizer, soup or salad, and dessert. Dinner will be served until 11 p.m., and cost is $95 per person.
A QUICK NOTE on a few other popular Tucson restaurants: Barrio Bar & Grill (135 S. Sixth Ave.) is taking the night off and will be closed New Year's Eve. The Arizona Inn (2200 E. Elm St.), typically one of Tucson's most popular spots to celebrate any holiday, is already completely booked, although a waiting list has been started. Café Terra Cotta will be open and serving their usual menu. ("We think what we do every day is plenty special enough," a manager said when asked about specific New Year's activities).
Looking over the abundance of New Year's festivities, it seems as though the new millennium already has a built-in motto: Eat, drink and be merry! Happy 2000 to one and all!