Mystery Diner in Utica: Dine inside or out at Skoog’s Pub & Grill

Downtown Utica restaurant features pub favorites, with daily specials

Skoog's Pub & Grill, still housed in the downtown Utica building that withstood the 2004 tornado, is a village institution that provides pub grub in a family-friendly atmosphere.

Few business owners will look back fondly on the novel coronavirus pandemic, but Skoog’s Pub & Grill in Utica is notable for nimbly adapting to embrace health protocols.

Long a mainstay in Utica’s tourist-friendly Mill Street, Skoog’s boasted a standard interior – the typical long bar with televisions, a jukebox and other staples – until infection controls prompted ownership to rethink its service area and make creative improvements.

Entrees at Skoog's Pub & Grill come with a generously-sized side salad.

Skoog’s acquired a neighboring property and expanded, so diners can choose between the bar and an airy dining room. During favorable weather, patrons also can dine outside.

The village of Utica cordoned off Mill Street during warm-weather months to create a kind of dining pavilion. This enabled restaurants to serve patrons when indoor dining was either restricted or fully off-limits because of COVID-19.

Outdoor dining proved to be a big hit in Utica – the village board extended it several years – and now is a feature of the Skoog’s experience. A portable host stand is stationed at the door for indoor and outdoor dining, and there are tables with umbrellas in the proximate portion of Mill Street.

Skoog's Pub & Grill in Utica features several nightly specials. One of the Friday specials is deep-fried bluegill with fries.

The menu is favorite pub fare – fried chicken, burgers, tortellini – with weekly specials including tacos (Tuesday), wings (Wednesday) and ribs (Thursday and Saturday). The wings are offered breaded or unbreaded, with a wide choice of sauces including the house-made kamikaze and a showcased flavor of the month.

Burger fans will note the Hearty Skoog Burger features a three-quarter-pound, specially seasoned patty that is fresh and never frozen. The pasta offerings highlight the homemade meat sauce as a special favorite.

The Mystery Diner ordered the Friday fish plate, which consists of deep-fried blue gill, fries and slaw, accompanied by lemonade. The meal was generously portioned and enough to split. My dining companion, however, opted for the cod. Both entrees came with a good-sized green salad and choice of dressing.

The cod dinner Skoog's Pub & Grill comes with fries and a side salad.

The menu notes the house dressing is the homemade creamy garlic.

Skoog’s provides outdoor music from a loudspeaker mounted on the west wall; do know that the volume is relatively high near it, if you’re looking for a more quiet spot to converse.

Hours of operations are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday and Monday; 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 to 9 p.m. Wednesday; and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

For a sweet flourish to cap a meal, Skoog’s offers a dessert selection of tempting cheesecakes.

Outdoor dining has been a popular addition in Utica, and Skoog's Pub & Grill is among the village eateries that lets diners enjoy meals on a cordoned-off portion of Mill Street.

• The Mystery Diner is an employee at Shaw Media. The diner’s identity is not revealed to the restaurant staff before or during the meal. The Mystery Diner visits a different restaurant and then reports on the experience. If the Mystery Diner cannot recommend the establishment, we will not publish a story.


WHAT: Skoog’s Pub & Grill

WHERE: 155 Mill St., Utica

PHONE: 815-667-5800