Restaurant News

Hamburger Mary's, Opening Soon, Offers Burgers, Bingo and Drag Queens

Photo courtesy of Hamburger Mary's

Photo courtesy of Hamburger Mary's

Houston is about to get a new entertainment and dining venue, which will be especially helpful to just about anyone barhopping in Montrose and looking for food. Hamburger Mary's, the restaurant known for amping it up a notch with its daily entertainment and quirky menu items, is scheduled to open at 2409 Grant the weekend of February 24.

“This is a vivacious place. If you want to have fun and let your hair down, that’s Hamburger Mary’s," said General Manager Shane Nelson. The restaurant features food with humorous names such as the "Proud Mary," “Queen Mary” and "Buffy The Burger Slayer" burgers, including desserts like "Mary Tyler S'Mores."

It also will serve appetizers, chili, soups, salads, flatbreads and a bevy of other delicious offerings. This particular site also caters to local tastes by listing Tex-Mex items and fajitas. A children’s menu — or a menu for Mary’s “Little Lambs” — is also available. Most meals land somewhere in the $13 to $16 range. Don't despair, adults. There's a full bar, too.

And there's more. It’s not just about the food. It's also about entertainment. To keep the fun flowing, the restaurant offers daily entertainment ranging between drag performances, bingo nights, variety shows and Broadway-themed celebrations. Four show directors have been hired to help orchestrate each day’s events.

Wednesdays will feature a “Divas” show, hosted by Bubba McNeely (a.k.a. Bubbalicious). Thursdays are hosted by Lady Shamu for the “Fuego” show — a Latin-themed night. Michael Chiavone and Jonathan Teverbaugh take over Fridays for a variety show. McNeely returns for Saturday’s “Illusions” show, as do Chiavone and Teverbaugh for Sunday’s “Broadway” show.

Tuesdays are reserved for a bingo night, which will help raise money for local nonprofits. The restaurant is closed Mondays. Shows start at 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. There are additional shows at 11 pm. on Thursday and Friday. The Sunday show runs at noon and 4 p.m.

Local talent as well as guest performers from other cities will make appearances throughout each week, but don’t expect the same show twice. Nelson says, “The entertainers change weekly, so every time some one goes to Hamburger Mary's, they will see a different show.”

The bingo night is probably the most cherished one for the venue, though. Hamburger Mary’s has helped encourage charities' success by aiding 501(c)(3) organizations across the country by providing a venue to host bingo nights. Some locations have become so popular with community organizations that restaurants host bingo nights two or three times a week. “The one anchor for Hamburger Mary’s is giving back to the community,” says Nelson.

Fundraisers are already planned for Avenue 360 as well as the Houston Gaymers. He expects more nonprofits will reach out for participation once the restaurant is fully launched. Outside of the weekly special events, the restaurant opens at 11 a.m. Tuesday through Sunday.

Nelson says dinner will stop at 10 p.m. and then resemble a club-like atmosphere featuring an appetizer menu until closing at 2 a.m.. On Fridays and Saturdays, the hours might extend for diners well until 5 a.m, depending on the crowd. “We’ve noticed all the food trucks in the area at 2 a.m., and they have lines,” says Nelson. “We’re going to try to help out the people who are looking to get food at that hour.”

The restaurant will be situated within stumbling distance of Bayou City Bar, TC’s, Crocker Bar, South Beach, JR’s Bar & Grill, Blur Bar, George Country Sports Bar, The Eagle, Boheme, F Bar and a slew of other, smaller watering holes.

Even though Hamburger Mary’s might be a new concept for Houston, it holds an established reputation of several decades. The franchise opened in 1972 in San Francisco. The idea was to create a friendly beer and burger joint, and it quickly became a mainstay of The City by the Bay’s GLBTQ community. From there, the tale grew. The kitschy and flamboyant restaurant caught on with a second location in Hawaii, and soon Hamburger Mary's history her-story was made, with subsequent other franchises opening.

Currently, Houston brings the total of Hamburger Mary’s spots to a sweet 16. She has other locations in Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Missouri and Wisconsin. It’s only fitting that a restaurant founded in GLBT-friendly San Francisco open in this particular location. The Houston building holds a distinct history in Montrose. It originally opened in the mid-2000s as a Vietnamese restaurant before being converted into a retail store vending adult novelty items and “behind closed doors” accessories. Both ventures, just like its new owner, seemed to draw a distinct GLBTQ audience yet were welcoming to those from all walks of life, all while maintaining a nonjudgmental attitude.

Hamburger Mary's prides itself on maintaining that same tradition and operating as a place for all people looking to have a good time. “Hamburger Mary’s is a place where everyone is welcome,” Nelson says. “It’s for the community that we live in, and that’s a diverse community.” With seating for only 100 people on the inside and 50 people on the patio, reservations are highly recommended, and can be made by calling 713-677-0674.

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Sam Byrd is a freelance contributor to the Houston Press who loves to take in all of Houston’s sights, sounds, food and fun. He also loves helping others to discover Houston’s rich culture.
Contact: Sam Byrd