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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Columbia Eats: Drakes Duck-In

Sometimes (actually, more often then not) the best places to eat are the most unexpected locations. Drake's Duck-In, lovingly referred to as "Ducks" by fellow comrades and myself, may be the best bang for your buck anywhere in the downtown area, but one glance at it may be a bit of a turnoff. Compared to the lavish-looking Gotham Bagel down the street, or the Main St. stockpile of restaurants, Ducks is most likely not the average pick for a first-timer in the area. Those in the know, however - like their next door neighbors in the Free Times building - know that Ducks contains some of the best burgers, sandwiches, and chicken in area - all for well under the six dollar average for downtown eateries.

Open early for breakfast up to 5:30 in the evening, Ducks features a fairly extensive menu of classic fast food items. The morning items are standard fair: biscuits, or a host of sandwich options with any combination of sausage, bacon, egg, and cheese. The great part is they don't have the plastic, processed taste of McDonalds, making for a much more appealing start to the day. Things aren't all rosy though: the sausage sandwich with toast, for example, was a bit on the greasy side.

The real reason to come to Ducks doesn't begin till lunch time, when the colossal chicken sandwich becomes available. I remember reading in the Free Times that Columbia chose Chick Fil' A as the best chicken sandwich in town. These folk have obviously never been to Ducks. Juicy, and twice the size of any Chick Fil'A sandwich they can muster up, Duck's chicken sandwich simply annihilates the competition. Best grabbed at the peak of lunch hour when things are flying fast and furious off the grill, the chicken sandwich easily is the number one reason to come to this local establishment. Be wary about eating it at the crazy off hours of the day when the grill starts cooling down the back though. It can get a little on the dry side then, but is still impressive nonetheless.

While the chicken sandwich reigns supreme in my book, the rest of the menu doesn't disappoint. The cheeseburger, though simple in looks, gets a generous thumbs up thanks to its special slaw/mustardy/mayonnaise spread. The menu also features some pretty decent fried chicken and a vinegary barbeque sandwich that definitely stands out as being a little different from the norm. Sides include fries - never too salty, and always hot and fresh - and coleslaw, which I have come to believe may be the best in town for its light, sweet bite.

Last, but not least, there's the desert. Besides the ice cream (oh, they serve ice cream by the way!), tucked away in the back are some fantastic slices of New York style cheesecake and lemon meringue pie that you will not want to miss out on. If you have room for a taste, don't be afraid to take it. The lemon pie has a remarkably fresh bite that will surely liven your senses for the rest of the afternoon.

No Reservations, The Shakedown on Duck's
Atmosphere: Fast food casual.
Cost: Like highway robbery. $3-6.
Must Try: The Chicken Sandwich. A Duck's signature.
Don't: Forget about the rest of the menu either.
Lots of fast food comfort to choose from.

The Final Verdict
For only around five bucks, and at about ten times the quality of any average fast food joint, you simply can't go wrong with Drakes Duck-In. While the menu may not be the most 'health friendly', if your looking for quality fast food (yes, there is such a thing) in the downtown area, look no further. You'll come hungry, but unlike Wendy's or McDonalds, you'll leave happy.

Drake's Duck In on Urbanspoon


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