I'd like to sum up my Hamburger Mary's experience in a very cliché way: It was just so…merry. From the twin-brother owners Brandon and Ashley Wright, to the host, wait staff and bartenders, the staff was remarkably attentive. It was almost as though I'd found myself in the middle of someone's kitschy kitchen, where the hosts were busy making the rounds and leaving no one unattended.
"Mary," the restaurant's quintessential gay icon, is represented in all her glory: personal tokens from travels displayed at the bar, her loud, purple, sometimes garish wall decor, eighties dance music and vivid video screens and a menu dedicated to her Mary-majesty's namesake. Decked in graphics depicting Mary doing Chicago (from Lake Michigan to the Mag Mile), the menu gets down to the heart of it all: the hamburgers. You'll find the Proud Mary, which comes with grilled onions, bacon, mushrooms, cheddar and jack; Buffy the Hamburger Slayer, doused with red wine, garlic aoli and Swiss; and the Sloppy Mary, topped with chili, jack, cheddar and onions. Burgers run between $7.95 and $10.95 and come with fries, coleslaw or potato salad. Add on a specialty martini or mojito for between $7-$9 and your dining and drinking for a respectable 20 bucks.
The first Hamburger Mary's made the scene in San Francisco in 1972. More than thirty years later, the 2006 Mary-party in Chicago is still as exciting for those looking for beef and fun all wrapped up in one. Future plans extend the historic old bank-turned-burger joint upstairs, making room for clubbing, karaoke and cabaret. Downstairs will continue to feature the faces and charms of the Virgin Mary, Mary Tyler Moore, and Marilyn Monroe, to name a few. And the blonde on the awning and all over the menu? That's THE Hamburger Mary, who wants you to "Eat, drink, and be…Mary!"
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Heather Blaha