Each week we venture to a new restaurant to check out what the spot has to offer during our favorite time of day — happy hour. Whether it's affordable appetizers, delicious drinks, jaw-dropping deals, or none of the above, we'll check out the situation and report back.
The Spot: Duck & Decanter Camelback
1651 East Camelback Road, Phoenix
The Hours: Happy hour is Monday through Friday from 3 to 7 p.m.
Perfect For: When you want to “turn up,” but you want that to mean wine and cheese in a pleasant atmosphere.
The Interior: Housed in an A-frame and shaded all around by eucalyptus trees, Duck and Decanter Camelback has a “cabin-in-the-woods” feel to it. Various members of the Duck and Decanter family hustle about behind the long deli counter, making sandwiches and calling out orders. Grab a table outside if the weather is nice, or head upstairs to check out local artwork while you eat. There is also a small room in the back for more private conversations, or a wine bar where you can people-watch from behind a stained glass window.
The Food: Happy hour at the Duck means an $8 cheese plate, $10 if you add meat. You get to choose two of each, or you can let your server choose for you. (Spoiler alert: whatever they pick will be amazing.) This is not today’s trendy charcuterie platter, which generally comes with a slice of manchego, two olives and a speck of salami. (Get it?) This is everything you want a platter to be: generous hunks of cheese, apple slices, grapes, olives, sliced baguette, and crackers. Even without the meat, it’s enough to feed two hungry, classy people. But if you add meat – and you should – you will also get your money’s worth of high quality prosciutto, pate, or countless other options. The cheese board normally starts at $14, so if you have champagne dreams and beer bottle pockets, this happy hour is for you.
The Drinks: Duck (sorry) into the aforementioned wine cellar to pick your poison. Duck and Decanter takes a down-to-earth approach to wine and beer; while they have a fine selection of both, this is the place to say, “I don’t know anything about wine but I know what I like.” The barkeep will help you out, and while he’s up for a chat if you are, he’s happy to leave you alone, too. House wines and draft beers are $3 on happy hour, and sometimes (or at least, during our last visit) there is a classically trained violinist just, you know, practicing in there between sips of wine.
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Conclusion: Newcomers to Phoenix could be here for years before finding out about Duck and Decanter, and that’s too long to eat second-rate sandwiches. When you do make the hidden gem a part of your routine, discovering its happy hour is like dressing on the Reuben. The crowd is mixed; you’re as likely to run into a co-worker as you are your 4th grade teacher and her mahjong crew. Mostly though, it’s just a lot of locals looking for quality food and wine in a place where they can connect with their fellow Phoenicians.
Don’t Miss: The unique shopping opportunity: Jars of tea leaves are stacked next to funky kitchen gadgets, cactus jellies, and satchels of stroopwafels. It’s a great place for stocking stuffers or housewarming gifts.
Skip This: Sitting in the way back, west corner of the restaurant, unless you’re there to break up with someone. Any other spot means friendly faces all around, and half the fun at the Duck is mixing it up with other patrons.