I don't know why, but there's something about the combination of neon and cool 1950's decor that always seems to make a place seem fun, and Duke's has both in abundance. The ceiling above the lengthy bar is covered in 45rpm records; the rest of the main dining room has movie posters and other pop culture artifacts. I was particularly enthralled by a Brigitte Bardot poster. There are a few flat panel TVs ideal for watching sports.
Duke's has a Carolina pulled pork sandwich, plus BBQ platters that include "fall of the bone" (ugh) St Louis ribs, sliced brisket and rotisserie chicken. All combos ($17.95 for two meats, $21.95 for three) include a free draft beer. Besides barbecue, the Duke's menu features burgers, sandwiches, and Southern dishes with an emphasis on seafood. There are also five different salads, not including the additional permutations when adding grilled chicken or shrimp.
I was able to substitute my way into a 2-meat combo that included ribs and pulled pork. Both arrived glistening in a lake of bright red sauce. Although the pulled pork almost certainly wasn't smoked, it wasn't that bad. The sauce had that sweet and tangy counterbalance you find in a cheap Chinese sweet and sour. The pieces of pork were fairly big, tender on the inside, with some chew on the outside. Not barbecue, not great, but not bad. The ribs weren't as good, with not much meat on them and not much flavor other than from the sauce in which they were swimming.
Sides were a mixed bag. Warm biscuits, presented in a basket before the meal, were decent, and lighter than most. Collard greens were pretty good, with big leaves and good use of salt, garlic and vinegar. The baked beans had a sauce that was eerily reminiscent of a rendition I'd tasted years ago by one of the most renowned chefs in American culinary history. Unfortunately, that chef's last name is Boyardee.
The bottom line: If barbecue is the question, Duke's certainly isn’t the answer, but I could see coming here for drinks.