33: Nooner at Duck & Decanter
As any longtime regular will tell you, Duck & Decanter is more than just a sandwich shop.
"The Duck," as it's known to regulars, has been something of a local trailblazer. Duck & Decanter helped popularize the casual, counter-service neighborhood hang-out space in metro Phoenix — the kind of "third place" spot where you can grab a sandwich, down an espresso, shop for gourmet food items, and hang out on the patio for long stretches of time.
Owners Dort and Earl Mettler opened the original location of Duck & Decanter in 1972 near 16th Street and Camelback Road. Over the years, Phoenicians have watched the beloved local chain expand and contract with the changing times; at one time, Duck & Decanter had locations in Scottsdale, Tempe, and downtown Phoenix.
Today, the sole remaining Duck & Decanter location is situated just east of its original address, tucked deep into the shopping center anchored by uptown Phoenix's "small-format" Target store near 16th Street and Camelback.
One thing that hasn't changed over the years is the friendly ambiance. Duck & Decanter, which is housed in an intriguing A-frame house, feels like a laid-back oasis in the middle of the city.
You place your order at the counter, and whatever you pick, it will come neatly packed in the deli's iconic oversize brown paper bags, which have the words "Nooner" emblazoned in bold print. Duck & Decanter's thickly built sandwiches are officially called "nooners," a nickname that's been known to make Urban Dictionary scholars giggle awkwardly at the lunch counter.
You can build your own "nooner," or you can pick from the restaurant's menu of signature sandwiches. The Duckling is a house favorite, a sweet-savory sandwich that conjures a small autumnal feast. It's packed with a couple solid inches of smoked duck breast and smoked turkey breast, which are skillfully paired with a sweet, tangy cranberry-walnut relish. The whole thing is buttressed by two thick-cut, fluffy slices of country bread.
Another highlight is the simple yet exquisite Vermont Treat, made with honey glazed ham, pine nuts, sliced apples, and Duck & Decanter’s homemade cheddar cheese spread.
If you can swing it, pair your sandwich with one of The Duck's wonderful deli sides, like the impossibly creamy herb chicken salad. A small container isn't cheap, but someone will happily provide samples before you splurge on a whole container.
Is Duck & Decanter the most efficient, economical, or even most convenient lunch destination in metro Phoenix? Negative. But it's a consistently great place to unwind, shop, and possibly discover your next favorite bottle of wine.
Plus, who in their right mind would ever turn down a really great nooner?
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33: Nooner at Duck & Decanter