Bites, brews and bros
Duke’s Plates & Pints
Sacramento, CA 95864
Good for: beer and pub grub
Notable dishes: The Duke, sausage plate
Duke’s Plates & Pints may be located in the Arden Town Center strip mall that’s located in the far southwestern corner of the Arden Park neighborhood, but on a recent weeknight it felt a little more like Midtown. A dozen or so 30- and 40-something men seemed to celebrating something, drinking pitchers of craft beer and scarfing down somewhat fancy bro food: bacon burgers, pulled-pork nachos and fries with tasty house ketchup. Whatever it was they were talking about got increasingly louder as the night went on and the sound started bouncing off cavernous concrete walls decorated with beer posters and large flat-screen TVs tuned to various sporting games.
The brew and grub spot, which replaced Beach Hut Deli in November 2014, also features a wall-mounted chalkboard listing dozens of rotating beers on tap—many of them local and tasty. There are also a few beers in a fridge behind the bar in addition to wine.
After deciding to sit as far away from the bros as possible, we spotted a large pile of cooked bacon sitting on a ledge in the kitchen and assumed it was some sort of hint. We started off by ordering a bacon cheeseburger dubbed The Duke and a sausage plate—plus a Bear Republic Tartare Rouge (a sour produced in Healdsburg, in Sonoma County) and an Avery White Rascal (a Belgian-style witbier from Colorado).
The Duke impressed with its bold plating: Two long slices of bacon formed a large “X” protruding from the burger. Inside the burger’s challah buns there was a half-pound beef patty, cheddar cheese, avocado, aioli and standard burger toppings such as lettuce, tomato and onion. The whole thing was well-put-together, and the challah bun possessed a nice, fluffy texture without getting soggy. Indeed, the X-shaped bacon marked one of the better burgers we’ve had in Sac.
The next dish to come out, the sausage plate, made us feel like we were in Western Europe, especially when we paired it with the witbier. It featured three types of sausages: a hot link, a chicken and a pork sausage—all tasty—and we ordered a side of sauerkraut to go with it just to make the dish seem even more German.
On our way out, we ordered a chicken salad to go—which was a lot like the house salad, with the same delicious vinaigrette, but with added grilled chicken breast and avocado.
During a pair of later visits we sampled a few more pints and a few more plates: “loaded” fries, a cobb salad, nachos and a turkey wrap. None of these dishes really stood up to the quality of the burger and sausage plate. The turkey wrap (sliced turkey breast, avocado, goat cheese and lettuce in a tortilla) seemed to lack flavor and kind of felt like eating a salad wrap with no dressing in it. Comparatively, the cobb was flavorful and hearty, with tons of salami cubes, bacon, egg and turkey to complement its leafy greens and a dill dressing—perhaps the exact dressing that would be good in the wrap, too.
The “loaded fries” and nachos shared the same flavor profile, tons of shredded cheddar cheese and house aioli. They differed only in that the nachos came topped with slightly dry pulled pork and salsa, and the fries came with chopped bacon. They’d both make good calorie bombs to soak up any extra hypothetical pints of beer in our guts.
Overall, the spot seems to be off to a good start. We liked that we could sample some somewhat local beers (like several from Healdsburg’s Bear Republic Brewing Co. and a few selections from Auburn’s Common Cider Co.). The limited food menu is pretty good overall, with the clear standouts being the burger and the sausage plate. It’s definitely a nice spot for anyone in the Arden Park neighborhood to bike to for a beer and bite.