This local hangout serves high-quality bar food on a budget (Dining Out Review)

Fulton, NY — Driving down 1st Street in Fulton, you could easily blink and miss Muskie’s. But you would truly be missing out.

From the outside, this bar/restaurant looks like any other house on the street. But on the inside, you’ll find cheap drinks, tasty meals and friendly company.

Someone recommended Muskie’s on our Where Syracuse Eats Facebook page, so I met a few friends there for lunch. The place is definitely a local’s hangout, but the regulars welcomed us with open arms, adding us into their boisterous conversations.

We grabbed a few seats at the bar and were quickly greeted by Meghan, the enthusiastic bartender. Her energy was infectious and immediately made us feel comfortable.

To start, we ordered a round of drinks, one Bud Light can ($3) and two mixed drinks ($4 and $4.50). The beer menu was limited to the usual selection at most bars, with most of the mass-produced commercial beers alongside Mike’s Hard Lemonade and Twisted Tea.

But the liquor selection was impressive for a small bar with surprisingly low prices. The drink special of the day was vodka and lemonade for $3. That was one of our next drinks.

Muskie’s wings was the first item we ordered ($15 for a dozen). The menu offers 17 options, ranging from dry rubs to sauce-slathered, all flavorful, mild to spicy. Meghan let us split the dozen between two flavors. We settled on mesquite bacon BBQ and garlic pepper dry rub.

Wings at Muskie’s

Ultimately I would have liked my wings a little crispier, but overall both styles had great flavor and were juicy on the inside. The BBQ was smoky and sweet, with a nice touch of bacon. The garlic pepper was good, but could have had a bit stronger taste. Both baskets came with blue cheese and celery.

Choosing to order a variety of dishes to split amongst the three of us, we also ordered the cowboy burger ($12) with waffle fries ($2), an order of three chicken tenders and fries ($7), and a crispy chicken wrap with homemade chips ($11).

Immediately I could tell that the hamburger was made with fresh meat, not frozen. That’s unusual for bar food. The cowboy burger came topped with bacon, American cheese, BBQ sauce and sauteed onions. The classic combination worked well here, with the smokey sweetness of the sauce and onions complemented by the saltiness of the bacon.

Dining Out: Muskie's

Cowboy burger at Muskie’s

The homemade chicken tenders are quite large and served with a sauce (or two) of your choosing. We wanted different sauces than the ones we tried on our wings, so we asked the bartender for recommendations. She brought us Jack Daniel’s sauce (their most popular), and the Sweet Heat. Both were great choices for the tenders, with the Jack Daniel’s being more on the sweet side and the Sweet Heat having more of a spicy kick.

The crispy chicken wrap came with bacon, celery and honey mustard dressing. The wrap was a generous size, easily enough to split into two meals.

Dining Out: Muskie's

Chicken wrap at Musckie’s

With each of those three dishes, we purposely chose different sides so we could try them all. Out of the homemade chips, regular fries and waffle fries, the waffle fries were the winner by a slim margin. The homemade chips were a nice addition to any meal, being both softer in the center and crispy on the edges with just the right amount of salt. The regular fries were just that. Regular.

Since it was a Friday when we visited, Muskie’s offered several seafood specials in addition to the regular menu. In fact, each day has different specials and unique dishes, all of which are updated on their Facebook page. You can plan your visit around Taco Tuesday, Italian Night or whatever seasonal dishes are being offered.

With the quality of the food at Muskie’s, it’s a pleasant surprise that he has kept their prices so low. Lunch for the three of us and a couple of drinks each, with tax and a 20% tip, came to $90. Since we ordered an extra entree, we had plenty to take home as well.

If you’re just looking to eat, you can easily get in and out for about $15 per person. They also offer a cash discount of 4%.

All in all, if you’re looking for a new spot that is budget-friendly and has impressive bar food, add Muskie’s to your list of places to visit.

The Details

The Restaurant: Muskie’s Sports Bar & Grill, 583 South 1st Street, Fulton, NY 13069

Reservations? Not necessary

Credit cards? Yes

Access to disabled: Limited. There are stairs at the entrance, and the space inside is on the smaller side.

Parking:Small parking lot and street parking.

Noise level:Average.

Special diets?Vegetarian options available.

Children’s menu?No.

Hours:Monday-Saturday 11 am to 2 am, Sunday noon to 2 am

Cost:Less than average.

Danielle Benjamin is a freelance restaurant critic for The Post-Standard and syracuse.com and a food blogger. You can reach her at wanderlustonabudget@gmail.com.

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