Hamburger Mary's goes where no other burger joint dares
Does Milwaukee need another hamburger joint? What if it includes karaoke, racy bingo and free drag shows?
Welcome to Hamburger Mary's, the only national restaurant chain with a gay identity. From the garishly painted purple exterior to the deep fried menu and the extraordinary entertainment, Mary's is way over the top.
In a delicious bit of irony, the new Milwaukee Mary's outpost is in a remodeled Bay View building that formerly housed an Omega burger and frozen custard fast food restaurant. Talk about a makeover.
Hamburger Mary's was born in San Francisco in 1972. As a chain, it has expanded and contracted since then.
"Mary's has been on a roller coaster ride for 40 years," says Ashley Wright, who with his twin brother Brandon owns the franchise for a Chicago restaurant as well as Milwaukee's. Several years ago they also acquired 50% of the corporate company.
The chain is now on the way back up. The Bay View outlet, which had a soft opening a few weeks ago, is currently No. 10 in the group. A new St. Louis restaurant scheduled to open soon will be the 11th.
Wright says Mary's is a specialty destination business that never opens more than one location in a city. "It is campy and silly. We have fun."
That doesn't mean the food is slighted, he adds. Mary takes her cooking very seriously.
Some menu items would make a cardiologist wince. Among the appetizers, mac 'n' cheese fritters ($6) are breaded, deep fried and served with barbecue sauce. A beer and cheese dip ($7) is accompanied by a deep fried soft pretzel.
Brittney Fried Spears ($5.50) are deep fried pickle spears.
Four entree salads include Crispy Caramel Chicken ($10), a mix of greens, tomatoes, bacon, croutons, shredded cheese and fried chicken coated with a caramel sauce. The entire salad is tossed with ranch dressing.
For dessert, you can try three deep fried Twinkies, topped with raspberry sauce and whipped cream ($5).
But there are ways to eat healthy at Mary's. All of the burgers are a half pound, and beef can be swapped out for ground turkey, free range chicken breast or a black bean patty at no extra charge. A lettuce cup can be substituted for the standard brioche or multigrain bun.
A wide range of loaded burgers are on the menu. The Oktoberfest ($12) features bratwurst ground into the beef patty. Sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and spicy brown mustard are added, and the creation is served on a pretzel roll.
Buffy the Burger Slayer ($10.50) features a red wine sauce, Swiss cheese, garlic aioli and a toasted garlic bun. The Gouda Morning Burger ($12) includes gouda cheese, bacon, a fried egg, spinach and honey mustard. Each burger comes with a side.
A selection of 10 sandwiches, also accompanied by a side, runs the gamut from cranberry chicken salad ($9) and a garden hummus wrap ($8.75) to a meatloaf sammy and a buffalo chicken wrap (both $9.50). Entrees include fish and chips ($12.50) and smoked kielbasa with sauerkraut, mashed potatoes, a deep fried soft pretzel and stone ground mustard ($12).
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that picture is of workmen? i thought that was the floor show!
You may go for the environment but you'll come back for the food. SO good!
I really enjoyed my time here, food is well done & bartender Bradley was genuinely having fun with us. They know what they're doing. We'll will definitely be back!
I've been to the one in Chicago, and I must say, it was interesting. I don't think I'll be visiting the one here tho.
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