What the Duce?!: Punching Through a Basket of Apps

The Dish: Bacon, Mac & Cheese Muffins
The Drinks: Duce Lemonade, Grasshopper
The Place: The Duce, Downtown Phoenix
The Location: 525 South Central Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85004

By: Blake M. Wilson

Wandering past Madison Street in Downtown Phoenix after dark? You might want to reconsider that answer.

Emanating from a seemingly abandoned warehouse, music blasts through the empty streets. Walk through the vintage steel doors and you’ll find an intriguing combination bar-boxing gym-soda fountain-retro clothing shop. It’s something unexpected, something quirky hidden behind the glow of the stadiums.

Grab a drink from their scrolling list of cocktails, and order up at the patio trailer, serving food until midnight. My last journey to this hip paradise brought a basket of bacon, mac & cheese muffins into my life. The cheesy goodness associated with a bowl of mac amidst the childlike tendency to toss aside your utensils, my collection of about 10 muffins disappeared faster than it took them to announce the fake name I gave them at the order window.

Featured on Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, the dish is no less that what you’d expect to sink your teeth into. Crunchy and soft at the same time, these bites will leave you asking yourself, “Why can’t everything be eaten with our fingers”?

As I explored the rest of the venue, I stumbled across the game room, challenging my ever patient girlfriend to corn hole, foosball and ping pong. She wasn’t impressed by my ability to lend her crushing defeats at every game. It’s around this point that we both decided a cocktail could help mute the adrenaline victory provides.

Off to the cocktail bar, “where produce meets prohibition”, according to their sparkling chalkboard. I order their specialty, the Duce Lemonade, a tangy mix of vodka, freshly squeezed lemonade, topped with a strawberry garnish and a couple blueberries thrown in as well, why not? Upon the arrival of my refreshing drink inside it’s mason jar, I conclude that this will not be my only Duce Lemonade of the evening.

My girlfriend decides to grab something a bit more daring. The Grasshopper might not have been invented at the Duce, but it might as well have been. The creamy creation of Creme de Menthe, Creme de Cocoa & Cream establishes an alcoholic shamrock shake year round, for those craving that minty pleasure. Needless to say, I snuck sips each turn of her head or bathroom trip.

We grabbed our drinks and soaked up the atmosphere ringside, right before the live band started up inside the ropes. The blend of the raw, urban interior with the retro vibes of their art painted throughout give this single stop location everything to fit the expectations of people across the interest spectrum.

As their tagline says, where pretty meets gritty.

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