McGonigel’s Mucky Duck

McGonigel’s Mucky Duck, or simply the Mucky Duck, is first and foremost an excellent small showcase club for live music. It is an intimate spot to catch top regional and national acts such as Jack Ingram, Okkervill River, Kelly Willis, and the legendary Texas troubadour Alejandro Escovedo, who long ago bummed a ride on the rock ‘n’ roller coaster. But, the adept kitchen makes the Mucky Duck a worthy stop even when there are no performers. The food is far better than it has to be. The kitchen does a great job with food well-suited for the setting and the liquid offerings. This is pub fare of the quality that would be difficult to find in the less food-friendly cities on the other side of the Atlantic.

The generally hearty offerings are divided among Irish and British specialties and basic American dishes such as hamburgers, hot sandwiches and soups and salads. The Fish & Chips, made with beer-battered cod, and served with fries and cole slaw is very good, and always worth ordering, as is the similar Fish & Mash (with mashed potatoes). Another traditional pub dish that’s well prepared here is the waistline-expanding Shepherd’s Pie, ground beef and mushrooms that are topped with mashed potatoes and sprinkled with shredded cheddar cheese then baked.

If traditional pub fare does not entice, there are salads and very good Sandwiches. One of the best sandwiches is The Mark Portugal, sliced turkey with avocado slices and topped with melted Muenster cheese and a large strip of bacon on a crusty French roll that is served warm. It’s named after the former beer-loving Astros pitcher who was a regular at the Mucky Duck while he pitched here in the 1990s.

The Mucky Duck works well for lunch, dinner, or just a drink, before or after a show in the evening. There are nearly 30 beers on tap (served in proper 20-ounce Imperial pint glasses), plus a good selection in bottles, and an interesting, well-chosen, and well-explained small wine list.

McGonigel’s Mucky Duck is located at 2425 Norfolk, Houston, Texas 77098. Phone: 713-528-5999. Website:

Copyright Mike Riccetti. Adapted from Houston Dining on the Cheap, and used with permission.

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