Hamburger Mary’s, flamboyant foolishness, modest flavors
April 2, 2012
By Linda Fausel
Boffo. Campy. Kitsch. So describes the décor at one of Bay View’s newest eateries, Hamburger Mary’s. Find it on the corner of Bay Street and Kinnickinnic Avenue, in the former Omega Burger location.
Started in 1972 in San Francisco, this franchise-friendly chain has 11 locations and dubs itself “the only national franchise actively marketing to the gay community.” Activities include “MaryOke,” hamBINGO, and drag shows.
From the fringe lamps, red-tasseled curtained windows, checkered floor, plastic palm trees, and silver disco ball hanging over the middle-of-the-room stage, to the dolls in the rafters and the glitter on the floor, the environment at Hamburger Mary’s ranks high on the tomfoolery scale. Known for its burgers, there are 11 half-pounders and three “premium” burgers listed on the menu, most for $10.50 and up. They certainly sound enticing.
Not interested in beast? Diners can switch out any of the “Humane Angus” burgers for chicken, turkey, or a burger made with black beans.
Where’s the Spice?
Waiters walk around in red T-shirts that say, “Tasty Meat” and “Hot Buns.” If only it were true. The “Spicy Mary” black bean burger was anything but. The bun never saw the grill and the whole mushy mess crumbled on first bite. Sliced jalapeño and Pepper Jack cheese did little to make it sizzle.
The Big Kahuna Hawaiian burger, according to my dining mate, was big but not great. “There are better burgers in Bay View,” said this self-proclaimed aficionado, “at a more appropriate portion size and for probably less than $10.”
Around here it is not unusual to hear the words “deep fried” and “pickle” in the same sentence, so we loved ordering the “Britney Fried Spears.” And while they were deliciously crunchy with a divine dipping sauce, $5.50 for five simple spears left us feeling sour.
But there is much to choose from in this zany house of foodie frivolity.
“Sammies” on the menu include the Cran-Chicken Salad Sammie, which is Mary’s “secret” recipe: chicken breast, dried cranberries, green onion, and a “hint of tarragon” on choice of bread for $9. There is the Mama Mia Grilled Cheese (three cheeses with Roma tomatoes and fresh basil on garlic bread) for $8.25, or, the Cap’N and Taneal Fish Sammie (hand-battered cod fillets with cheddar cheese, lettuce, and tartar sauce on a brioche bun) for $9.50. The list goes on.
Aside from the Homewrecker Plate, a “rather large” smoked kielbasa, mashed potatoes, and a fried soft pretzel with sauerkraut and stone ground mustard ($12); and Loaded Mac-N-Cheese, mixed with red onions, red peppers, diced tomatoes and green peas, topped with a “pile of crispy onion strings” ($10); you will recognize more traditional entrees such as fried chicken, meatloaf, and fish-n-chips.
Desserts also scream fun. (No trans fat in the fryers, according to Mary, but OMG!) Try the Fried Twinkie Treat, three deep-fried crème cakes with raspberry sauce and whipped cream for $5 (You won’t have to wait till August!), or the Mary Tyler S’Mores, graham crackers, marshmallows, and Hershey’s chocolate melted over “Mary’s lil’ campfire.”
Dinner is over and you want the check? Peek inside the four-inch high-heel shoe the waiter just dropped off on your table.
Hamburger Mary’s is open from 11am to 10pm and offers a full bar, with a late-night menu 10pm-midnight Thursday through Saturday. Brunch is served from 10am to 3pm on Saturdays and Sundays. That includes $2 mimosas.
2130 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.
Read a carnivore’s review of Hamburger Mary’s here.
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