Photo: Jared Such

With live music seven days a week and tacos to write home about, Mikey’s keeps on jumpin’

Nearly two decades ago, sax player and singer Mike Clark, now proprietor of music hub and restaurant Mikey’s on 12th, looked around the continuously packed Saturday afternoon crowds at the now defunct Morgans on 17th and thought to himself, “I have an instant crowd. Now all I need is a venue of my own.” After all, no musician wants to keep lugging their gear in and out of a place every week if they can avoid it.

Serendipitously, Jackdaw’s, a music venue that had hosted Kris Demeanor with Geoff Burner, Dustin Bentall Outfit, Tom Phillips and the Men of Constant Sorrow, and many others was for sale by owner Kevin Fownes.

“I had a couple of partners,” Clark says from his Turner Valley home, recalling the early days of first opening the business.

Mikey’s Juke Joint, ran from 2007 to 2018 at 10th Avenue and 18th Street S.W., and Clark has many treasured memories from there, including his 50th birthday when he walked into the place and everyone spontaneously sang Happy Birthday to him. 

But eventually it was time for another change. 

“It was a good starter bar, but we’d be packed in there all the time. The stage was tiny, it had a definite vibe, [but] the place was kind of falling down and the landlord wasn’t doing anything about it,” says Clark of Mikey’s Juke Joint.

Clark had already played in the space where Mikey’s on 12th is now, at 918 12 Avenue S.W. He used to host a Monday night jam there when it was called, serendipitously, Mike’s Pizza. 

It was home to a few other businesses before Clark got the lease. “The Blind Monk was in there and had been locked out and everything was there. I thought, well, make a bid and try and get in there because it’s a nice sized venue. We threw in a stage and basically left it almost the way The Blind Monk was. The kitchen was [still] the same as it was back when it was Mike’s Pizza.”

Running two places simultaneously was a lot, so after about a year, Clark shut the Juke Joint down to focus on Mikey’s on 12th. 

Since it opened, the place has become a second home to many of Calgary’s music lovers, who Clark says travel between his place and spots like Ironwood and The Blues Can.

With high-quality music and award-winning food, it’s no surprise the regulars come back often enough to be considered family. 

There is live music seven days a week at Mikey’s. Sundays feature Tom Phillips and friends hosting the Sit Back Jam, Steve Pineo plays Mondays and Wednesdays, and Tim Williams is there most Tuesday nights. Clark himself gets to enjoy his own venue by playing Thursdays and then hosting a jam Saturday afternoons before more music comes along in the evenings. 

Checking out the menu, you’ll find everything from a bacon Caesar salad to an Aztec salad bowl to cauliflower and steak bites, wings and Mexican poutine along with various forms of fries. Of course, there are classic sandwiches, burgers and pizza. But what folks rave about is the tacos – their Mexican authenticity is addictive. Be they pork, chicken, beef, fish, calamari, or vegetarian, you will crave them again days and weeks after. And if you can’t get down to Mikey’s on 12 th , you can always enjoy chef Ali Said’s loving treatment of those tacos at Mikey’s Taco Shop at 4121 4 th Street N.W.

“It’s a great place to listen to tunes,” says Clark. “I think the music we put on is some of the best. It’s consistently good, grass-roots, world-class music seven days a week. And the food is good. We’ve got the best tacos in town and we try to keep our prices reasonable.”

Mikey’s on 12th, 918 12 Ave. S.W., 403-452-8060, mikeyson12th.com