Nestled under the Damen Blue Line "L" stop, Blue Line Lounge & Grill (wonder where they got the name) seeks to transport patrons back to the 1950s lounge scene with its art deco light fixtures, swanky dim lighting, wood accents, and ample booth seating. It's typical mid-century Americana, just like the dishes that make up the menu. Blue Line features traditional American grub, from hamburgers and chicken sandwiches to Cobb salads and flatbread pizzas. It's a solid option as far as Wicker Park restaurants go, largely because Blue Line takes some subtle liberties with these classics.
As an example, Blue Line puts a little southwest spin on the standard Reuben sandwich with the Cowboy Reuben ($9). Rather than corned beef, the restaurant opts for marinated prime rib beef that's slow roasted and shaved thin before it's placed on grilled and buttered marbled rye bread. Slices of spicy pepper jack cheese stand in for Swiss cheese, while a vinegary red cabbage-based coleslaw takes the place of sauerkraut. The real meal-maker, though, is the ancho-chipotle mayo (used instead of Thousand Island dressing). The ancho and chipotle chiles mix for subtly spicy and flavorful sauce that's also somewhat sweet. With all those differences, can Blue Line's Cowboy Reuben still be considered a reuben? Traditionalists might scoff, but this food blogger certainly isn't, and she'll be going back for seconds.