Fronting Comfort: New Downtown eatery features solid, no-frills dining

Blue Front Fine American Food has an open, airy feel. (Noelle Haro-Gomez/Contributor)

By Valerie Vinyard

Blue Front Fine American Food harkens back to an earlier time. In a good way.
Think classic American fare: burgers, sandwiches, salads, snacks and seven types of milkshakes.

Owner Patricia Schwabe has added another restaurant to her Downtown collection of businesses. Schwabe also owns Mexican restaurant Penca, 50 E. Broadway Boulevard, and Owls Club, 236 S. Scott Avenue.

Blue Front, which opened in January, gets its name from the clothing store that was in the space in the early 1900s. The restaurant takes the place of Ten55 Brewing, which had operated there since 2018.

Rio Nuevo awarded Schwabe a $300,000 grant for the 2,200-square-foot space, which she used to buy new flooring and paneling, purchase new kitchen equipment, put in beer lines and repair the roof.

The restaurant can seat 120 in the dining room, bar, patio and upstairs area. Both bars have televisions, and the upstairs has pool tables.

During a recent evening, Bill Pakard was enjoying a burger and beer during happy hour, which takes place from 3 to 6 p.m. Mondays to Fridays. The $15 special comes with a Blue Front burger or veggie burger, fries and a pint of Valley beer from Phoenix-based Wren House Brewing Company.

Packard notes that the Blue Front burger alone costs $17.50 outside of happy hour.
“This is a great deal,” says Packard, 32. “The food is good, and I definitely got my money’s worth.”

Other happy hour specials include $10 cocktails, $2 off drafts and wines by the glass, and $4 shakes. Food specials include a $6 menu with fried okra, onion rings or fries and a $7 menu with chicken wings, tenders and a kale and arugula Caesar salad.
A slice of happy hour pie will set you back $4 instead of the usual $10. Flavors include bourbon pecan, chocolate cream, spiced apple and banana cream. There are seven varieties of creamy milkshakes ($7). Flavors include bourbon pecan, chocolate cream and banana cream.

Blue Front Fine American Food offers a BLT with a choice of thick-cut bacon or housemade tempeh bacon, heirloom tomato, butter lettuce and mayonnaise on toasted sourdough ($16). (Blue Front Fine American Food/Submitted)

“It’s a totally scratch kitchen built from the ground up,” says Stephen Kozlowski, Blue Front’s 34-year-old bar manager.

When describing the space, Kozlowski calls it “kind of casual but thoughtfully done.”
Paintings of landscapes adorn the brick walls, and seating includes bar chairs, booths and tables and chairs. There’s a dog-friendly patio in the front facing Congress Street.

Blue Front features a weekend brunch and daily lunch/dinner menu. During a recent brunch visit, the challah French toast ($12) was a wise choice. Two thick slices of challah bread were halved and came with a generous dusting of powdered sugar and maple syrup on the side. A scoop of sweet, whipped butter finished the dish, making it a sweet and substantial dish. A small side of pineapple, blackberries and strawberries was a colorful complement.
Other brunch options include biscuits and gravy ($15); vegan or Blue Front quiche ($16 each); and steak and potato hash ($25), a cast iron-seared flatiron served with Kennebec potatoes, roasted mushrooms, onions, peppers, two eggs any style and lemon aioli.

Five soups include classic creamy tomato and vegan three-bean chili ($7 cup; $12 bowl).
Featured sandwiches are a BLT ($16), club ($17) and meatloaf sandwich with provolone ($16.50).

For those who want something lighter, there are four salads, including iceberg wedge ($14), cobb ($17) and Caesar ($14).

Dinner entrees range from spaghetti and meatballs ($20) to a 12-ounce cast iron ribeye and fries ($42).

“I like the simplicity of the menu,” Packard says. “I like knowing what to expect when I order a meal. … Sometimes restaurants try to get too fancy. Blue Front doesn’t, which is refreshing.”

Blue Front Fine American Food
110 E. Congress Street, Tucson