A Taste of Duke's Common Spirited Eats

Craft cocktails and mouthwatering bites can be found at Duke’s Common Spirited Eats in Healdsburg.

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A Taste of Duke's Common Spirited Eats

Duke's in Healdsburg is better known for its cocktails – as in Duke's Spirited Cocktails, owned by Steven Maduro, Laura Sanfilippo, Tara Heffernon, and Cappy Sorentino. Yet Duke's Common Spirited Eats, a new offshoot of the Healdsburg lounge, focuses on food. Sometimes it's campy food, to be sure, like corn dog pops ($6) and disco fries with mushroom gravy, cheese curds, and scallions ($6).

But there's also good cooking to be had in the rustic-chic Common. Chef Shane McAnelly (Brass Rabbit and Chalkboard of Healdsburg) created the menu, inspired by the 'restaurant family meal.' That's what a chef prepares for the staff before service, and often features ethnic, ultra casual, and quirky cuisine.

The place keeps a giggly mood, too, offering nifty games like Retro Battleship and Candy Land.

Duke's Common Spirited Eats, Healdsburg, Sonoma County, California

The look: Set in the former Scopa space on the Healdsburg Plaza, the shop is tricked out with rough concrete walls, high-top seating, pounded and rusted metal art, and window box planters on the walls. Long and narrow, the space gets crowded and loud, in that cocktail spirited way.

Duke's Common Spirited Eats, Healdsburg, Sonoma County, California

To eat: I'd come here just for the banh mi, a mouthwatering bundle of barbecue pork, pate, pickled carrots, daikon, cilantro, cucumber, and jalapeño mayo on baguette ($8). I'd also have to order the tacos, a duo of succulent Yucatan roasted pork shoulder, habanero marinated onions, and lime ($7). Both bites are authentically seasoned and addictive.

Duke's Common Spirited Eats, Healdsburg, Sonoma County, California

Tonight's Family Meal ($10) is often downhome comfort, such as crispy battered fish 'n' chips, or fried chicken with rich bacon gravy and mashed potatoes. But it gets inventive, too. One evening I enjoyed squid ink strozzapreti pasta tumbled with shrimp, white wine, garlic, red pepper flakes, and scallions, while on another I dug into rabbit sugo over creamy polenta with green olive pesto. The portions are just right — served in a smallish wood box or a plastic tub for a hearty snack to prep the tummy for more cocktails.

Things on a stick are always fun to eat, and the spicy, Shaoxing wine-marinated skewered prawns make my mouth tingle, thanks to pickled peppers ($8). I love the Asian bent on the marinated mushrooms as well, dressed with Kewpie mayo, furikake, and seaweed ($6).

Duke's Common Spirited Eats, Healdsburg, Sonoma County, California

Back on the whimsical side, the McChicken sandwich likely violates copyright laws, but it's tasty, topped simply with spicy mayo and cabbage slaw ($6). I'm a fan of the falafel-ritto, as well, the hummus, tzatziki, tabbouleh, and pickled onions all rolled up cozy in a tortilla ($9).

To note: Duke's Common food is also served at Duke's Spirited Cocktails from
4 to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 4 p.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday.

Dessert: Cookie Of The Day ($2). Yum.

To drink: Wine and beer is fine, but the stars here are craft cocktails. For something powerful, Weekend At Bernie's mixes Alley 6 gin, Chareau Aloe Liqueur, citrus, Cointreau, and Absinthe ($10). For a milder quaff, the sangria is a pleasing mix of wine, booze, juices, and spices that changes daily ($10).

Details: Duke's Common, 109A Plaza St., Healdsburg, 707-431-1105.
Carey Sweet