About a year and a half ago, restaurateur Don Carter Jr. renovated a former Bob Evans restaurant on the Carlisle Pike in Hampden Township and transformed it into “Duke’s West.”
The Carter family has been in the food service business for more than five decades now and owns Dockside Willies, Rock Bass Grill, Duke’s Hershey and Duke’s Riverside.
If you’ve spent any time at their flagship location that overlooks the Susquehanna River, you’ll recognize some familiar favorites like the crab pretzel and Duke’s other signature dishes, but that’s where the similarity ends.
Duke’s West may not be able to compete with the Susquehanna River views, but the décor inside is attractive and blazingly bright compared to its riverside eatery. Large windows provide an abundance of natural light, which is supplemented by a combination of track lighting, wall-mounted sconces and circular ceiling fixtures featuring Edison bulbs.
The number of flat-screen TVs (I counted at least nine) could have resulted in a sports-bar feel, but they are spaced far enough apart and high on the walls to be somewhat unobtrusive.
When my friend and I walked in during the lunch hour last Friday, we were led to a booth near a large, attractive stone wood-fired oven, which acts as a focal point. At any time, guests can take a peek into the kitchen to peer at the activity occurring within, thanks to a large glass partition that spans the length of the restaurant.
When I was handed the menu, I was astounded at the sheer number of choices. Be prepared to be overwhelmed because the menu is a book. Literally. Suffice to say, there’s a little something for everyone. I’ll spare an enumeration and just suggest visiting its website, https://dukesbarandgrille.com, to learn more. Duke’s also has a full bar with at least 20 beers on tap and dozens of imports and domestics available by the bottle.
It took some time to pour over the menu, so visiting the website before you visit might be a good idea. I eventually decided on the half sandwich paired with my choice of soup ($9.65). My companion chose the wood-fired, black Angus, Blue Mountain Cheeseburger—even the names are a mouthful ($9.50).
Service was on point, and within just a few minutes, our meals hit the table. My turkey, bacon club tasted fresh and was served with a generous amount of turkey, along with crisp lettuce, cheese and tomato. The onion soup was seasoned just right and was prepared with plenty of gooey cheese, much to my delight.
I can also recommend the juicy and delicious half-pound burger, which was cooked at just the right temperature, as ordered. Our waitress kept an eye out for our drinks as well, ensuring that they were topped off often.
Duke’s bar is located in the back of the restaurant, perhaps to be more family friendly, and they offer a menu to cater to the little ones as well, with a choice of chicken fingers, macaroni and cheese, grilled cheese and more, all for less than $6. As I said, Duke’s offers something for everyone.
If you waited as I did to visit the eatery, you might want to give it a try. Duke’s West is a great choice if you’re pressed for time, but still want to enjoy a delicious lunch. Just remember my advice to check out the website first.
Next Up: Tatiana’s in Mechanicsburg