Even if you have lived in Tucson for a short time, one way or another you have had some sort of relationship with Blue Willow. You know, Blue Willow, that paradigm eatery on Campbell Avenue that has been serving some of the best food in town since 1978. The cute cottage where you’ve had brunch with the awesome gift shop.
Having participated in Sonoran Restaurant Week since its inception, Blue Willow’s menu this year reflects yet again why they were awarded the City of Gastronomy recognition in 2021.
Blue Willow has one of the best patios in Tucson, hands down. Sure, we are all still in the wake of late summer heat and humidity, but they empower plenty of fans and an evaporative cooler back there. It’s all to keep you comfy along with all of the native plants providing additional shade and ameliorating aesthetics. If it’s still too muggy for you then there are two cozy seating areas inside.
Now that they have a bar serving craft cocktails, Arizona wines, and local beers, you can ease up on a stool and enjoy your meal as you watch the staff happily scurry about, making drinks and serving generous plates of southern Arizona-inspired fare.
This year for Sonoran Restaurant Week, Blue Willow not only went all out but they went deep into our beautiful, and delicious, regional Mexican culture. Deep, we say.
Each entrée comes with a starter of either organic Mixed Greens with Lemon Vinaigrette or a Classic Caesar salad. As you may or may not know, the Caesar salad that we know and love originated back in Tijuana by a man named Caesar around 1920. So, as mentioned earlier, Blue Willow is going deep this year.
For the main course, you have a choice between a Green Chile Tamale Pie or a Three Sisters Stew, both exclusively made just for this week and most likely will not be repeated.
The tamale pie is stuffed with house-seasoned black beans and rice, their signature pico de gallo, topped in a rich and creamy poblano sauce, and then finished with crispy corn tortilla strips.
The Three Sisters Stew honors the “three sisters” of Native food heritage corn, both pinto and black beans for this item, and squash, which are nestled on top of roasted pulled pork, green chiles, cilantro, and fresh locally grown tomatoes in a flavorful broth, served with house-baked cornbread.
Each salad and entrée serves two for $35. If you would like to add a dessert, which you should, that is an additional $5 — it’s so worth it.
For dessert you have a choice of a Prickly Pear Lemon Bar topped with fresh lavender-infused whipped cream – or their Spiced Chocolate Brownie completed with salted caramel gelato.
But it doesn’t stop with just the featured entrées and desserts for Blue Willow this week. Oh, no. Now that they installed a proper bar equipped with local and quality spirits, beers, and wine, the staff has concocted two cocktails that delight in flavor, ingenuity, and, well, let’s just say it, a bit of a buzz just for Sonoran Restaurant Week.
First up is what they like to call a Kicked Up Mangonada ($10). This sweet and fruity delectation comes replete with vodka, a puree of mangoes, then dusted with Tajín and chamoy and served with a mango candy straw. It’s mango-tastic.
They had to do something with our very own Whiskey Del Bac, so Blue Willow did a Tucson Mule ($9) with their classic variety merged with ginger beer and cinnamon syrup. This mule definitely has some kick to it.
If booze is not your thing, they are offering a Pomegranate Sparkler and a Churro Cold Brew Macchiato made with their own cold brew coffee, brown sugar cinnamon syrup, caramel sauce, and dolloped with whipped cream. Both drinks go for just $6 each.
Most people associate Blue Willow with breakfast, lunch, and, of course, brunch but they are open for full dinner service Wednesday – Saturday till 8 p.m. When the sun dims and the temperature dip (a bit), the patio, dotted with candles on each table to add to the nightly mystique, becomes an even fairer affair.
Due to Blue Willow’s ongoing popularity, reservations are encouraged, especially during Sonoran Restaurant Week, which is happening now until Sunday, September 18. The restaurant is open 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. on Sunday – Tuesday and 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. on Wednesday – Saturday.
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Mark Whittaker began his journalism career in San Francisco around 1997. It was for a small Northern California music magazine that segued into contributing to numerous magazines, websites, newspapers and weeklies throughout the 90’s and early 2000’s. Mark interviewed bands,...