Blackened Shrimp and Grits at Blue Willow (Photo courtesy of Blue Willow)

Blue Willow: 45 Years of Deliciousness with a Fresh Twist

June 7, 2023
By Mark Whittaker
By Mark Whittaker

If you’ve visited Tucson or have lived here for the past few decades, you know Blue Willow. Or at least you knew Blue Willow. 

The beloved restaurant on Campbell Avenue opened its doors in June of 1978 and has been a breakfast and brunch staple ever since. Their creative and uncomplicated egg dishes, especially their benedicts, have been staples since their inception under the mindful charge of original owner Janet Ramey. Keeping with the series of the time, Blue Willow has embraced a bit of the “flower power” aesthetic. 

Blue Willow (Photo courtesy of Blue Willow)

The food has always been one aspect of Blue Willow, with a big draw being the gift shop. As you step through the front door you are met with a beautiful, if not sometimes bawdy, bundle of games, cards, and books. Back in the ‘80s, the shop was almost exclusively stocked with ceramic art and swirly posters featuring odes to earthy cultures from the Age of Aquarius. 

Blue Willow has kept that promise of breakfast and macramé for decades — still does but with a twist. 

Passing the Torch

The general manager for 20 years, Stephanie Bevington, purchased Blue Willow in 2022 and has worked diligently to upgrade, remodel, and improve the menu along with the general ambiance.

Time has passed, things have changed, and Blue Willow has changed with it. Sure, they serve some of the best breakfasts in town, but did you know they also have full-service lunch and dinner? 

Yeah, they totally do. 

Celebrate With Dinner Specials

This month, Blue Willow turns 45 years old and to honor that passing magnitude, they have introduced a new menu. Don’t worry, they kept morning classics such as their Huevos Rancheros, Sonoran Carnitas Benedict, and their namesake special, but have added dishes such as a Fried Chicken and Belgian Waffle that includes a tangy housemade hot sauce. 

Fried Chicken and Belgian Waffle at Blue Willow (Photo courtesy of Blue Willow)

There is also a Fried Egg and Bacon Jam Sandwich featuring spicy tomato bacon jam and fresh cheddar cheese on a house-baked brioche bun. Luckily, I was extremely fortunate to try this sandwich during its inception, and let me tell you, it is absolutely divine. If not a bit decadent. 

Normally, shrimp and grits are found in Southern-themed restaurants, but Blue Willow has a Southern-born and-raised owner now. So, consider ordering the Blackened Shrimp and Grits on the menu. The grits are creamy, buttery, and hail in flavor from where Bevington once called home. 

Blackened Shrimp and Grits at Blue Willow (Photo courtesy of Blue Willow)

Last year was when Blue Willow introduced a team of delicious paninis including a Pesto Chicken with Mozzarella, Ham and Gruyere, and a brand-new, bright, and tasty Caprese featuring farm-fresh tomatoes and a basil pesto aioli. Deliziosa! 

More Than Just Breakfast

Most people don’t know this, even longtime customers, but Blue Willow has been serving dinner for almost as long as it has been open. Did you know this? Well, now you do. 

The options range from Double Check Ranch Meatloaf, Gruyere Mac & Cheese, and fresh Atlantic Salmon to name a few. A newly added addition is the Pasta Primavera with farfalle pasta, grilled asparagus, green and snap peas, pesto, and lots and lots of garlic. All of the dinner items are available for lunch as well.  

Blue Willow (Photo courtesy of Blue Willow)
Three-Course Anniversary Meal

Blue Willow is honoring their nearly five decades of being in business with a three-course meal. Starters range from a personal board with choices such as bruschetta, garlic whipped ricotta, or rotating butter selections.

Entrees feature new menu items such as the Shrimp and Grits, Chicken and Waffles, and Pesto Pasta Primavera. Then, we come to the sweet end as classic desserts range from Poppyseed Cake, Peach Cobbler, or a smooth and crunchy Churro Sundae

Again, not everyone knows that Blue Willow has a full-on baking team. This means that there are always rotating desserts, cookies, fudgy yummies, and ooey gooeys. They’re perfect for topping off that meal or to enjoy later at home as most treats are sold in the gift shop. 

Ah yes, the gift shop. It’s not just for ceramics and greeting cards anymore. Blue Willow carries an always enticing armada of puzzles, games, candles, toys, mugs, jewelry, bath and body delights, and things you didn’t know you needed but then suddenly you do. 

This may be the Blue Willow your parents and grandparents took you to, and still is, but with a punk rock-loving new owner and a diverse staff of servers, cooks, and bartenders embodying the fluidity of distinction, the items sold in the gift shop respectfully reflects all of that joy.   

Blue Willow gift shop (Photo courtesy of Blue Willow)

Wait, did I just say bartender

Yes, that’s right. Blue Willow now has a full bar. 

At any time of day, you can order up a bloody mary, margarita, mojito, cosmo, or a seasonal house specialty, some of which are made with Del Bac whiskey. All of the beers they carry are from Tucson and the regional area. Also, there’s a tight wine list and house mimosas. 

The restaurant has always been lauded for its amazing back patio, and, under the vision of Bevington, that amazing space has become even more amazing-er. First off, they added a roof to shield you, your food, and beverages from the searing Sonoran sun and installed a new cooling system as well. The patio also boasts lush flora and dark leafy vegetation providing not just visual pleasure but helping keep that well-needed chill down intact.

Enjoy the new greenery and a high-tech industrial fan while eating an Apple Orchard Salad, drinking a Monsoon Mule, and piecing together a Dead Kennedys puzzle.

Blue Willow is still a bit retro but has triumphantly stepped through and into the 21st century with fantastic food, craft cocktails, one of the best patios in Southern Arizona, and the gift shop, of course. 

It’s the place where you still take your parents when they are in town, while at the same time, the delicious hangout you and your friends have been looking for.

Blue Willow is located at 2616 N. Campbell Ave., and is open 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. on Sunday – Tuesday and 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. on Wednesday – Saturday. For more information, visit and follow Blue Willow on Instagram.

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Blue Willow is a Foodie 500 Restaurant Partner.

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Article By

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,...

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