You know as soon as I heard there was a new place specializing in fried chicken that it was going to go on the short list. It still took me longer than I wanted to get over there, but I finally managed it recently to celebrate a friend’s birthday.
Duke’s is a honky-tonk bar on the south side of downtown. It’s out there in a kind of industrial area. The location just sort of adds to the ambiance though. They have live music (it started around 8:00) and a short menu on a chalkboard. Basically you can get a whole fried chicken, a half of a fried chicken, and then a choice of 3 sides. There’s a tater tot waffle, crispy brussels sprouts, and spicy mac and cheese. Or you can get “the whole damn thing” which is a whole chicken and one of each of the sides ($35). This is what we did. Plus an extra ½ chicken.
Drink-wise, they specialize in some slushy alcoholic beverages, on this night it was slushy egg nog and slushy prickly pear margarita. It was pretty chilly out though, so hubby and I opted for beer and wine. Our server was friendly, although mostly just came around to bring food and take food orders, so we did a lot of our drinks directly at the bar.
The food was really pretty darn good. The chicken was HOT out of the kitchen though (temperature hot)—so hot you couldn’t really taste it at first. Once it cooled down a little bit though, it was really tasty. The crust wasn’t really thick, but it was seasoned really well—not like a lot of breading, but mostly seasoning directly on the skin. They served it with hot honey and their homemade hot sauce, but I didn’t really think it needed either. The dark meat especially was very tender—as usual I found the part of a breast I ate to be a bit dry, but I think that’s the nature of the beast oftentimes. And I like the dark meat best anyway. You also get more breading/seasoning to meat ratio with the thigh and leg, which adds to the taste.
The sides were very good. I really loved the tater tot waffle. It was a giant waffle made of, well, tater tots I am assuming, and man was it tasty. They put a big dollop of sour cream and butter in the middle and it is just awesome. I do have a weakness for tater tots though. The mac and cheese was popular the table—it is spicy though—made with hatch chilis. It was almost too spicy for me, but I still enjoyed eating some. The sauce is kind of runny too. But, it’s a nice sized portion. The Brussels sprouts are delicious too. I appreciate the relative healthiness of them—or maybe just the fact that there is a veggie offering. The crunchy brussels sprouts has chunks of apple in them, pickled red onion, and pistachios. It’s a tasty addition to eat with the chicken. I’d say if I ranked them I would say tater tot waffle would be first, Brussels second and the mac and cheese third.
I’m not sure how the service is supposed to be, but if you are okay getting your own drinks at the bar, it’s not too bad. The chicken takes a little while, which I actually appreciate, because I assume it means they’re making it fresh. It’s a fun place with a totally different atmosphere than anywhere else in Indy, and I would happily go back. They’re also open for lunch, with actually a larger menu than dinner, but no fried chicken option (other than a fried chicken sandwich). There are several sandwiches and sides and I would be interested to try other than it is so far away.
2352 S. West Street