Last night I discovered yet another spot in downtown Phoenix to point out to people who claim Phoenix is lame and has no culture: The Duce, on Central Avenue. It’s a shame it took me so long to get there, but I was stoked to attend a fundraiser for Arizona Senate candidate Don Bivens there last night.
The Duce is an ultra-eclectic joint that’s part store, part bar and restaurant and part work-out center. Yep, there’s a massive boxing ring surrounded by handmade cooking aprons overlooking the bar, with the venue taking space in a old spacious warehouse.
The energy at The Duce is interesting, with a decidedly retro vibe coming through both the vintage handmade cocktails and the fashionable finds throughout the store, including cruiser bicycles.
The cocktail menu is full of handcrafted drinks, ranging from dirty martinis to grapefruit mimosas.
You can enjoy your drinks on the patio, which also includes an organic produce stand, or in the bar, with simple long tables and some retro furniture filling it up.
Live music takes place on the makeshift stage, which doubles as the boxing ring. When I was there last night, lights were strung up to light up the platform, which was surrounded by old school punching bags and giant tires. When we first arrived to the mixer and sat down to drink, I noticed a trainer and his client doing shoulder presses. It was one of the quirkiest places I’ve experienced.
And that’s why The Duce is so charming. You can wander around and check out the unique finds throughout the space, you can enjoy good food and drinks (I heard the noodle kugel, $4 off the small American menu, was amazing), you can work out, or you can listen to live music. There’s also a Chicago soda fountain, and on top of everything else, The Duce hosts ice cream socials and birthday parties.
I’d definitely like to go back during the day some time for brunch, though their brunch menu is served all day long. I bet sitting on the patio in the sun would give a whole different feel to the place, and I can’t wait to go back.