Hamburger Mary's, a San Francisco-based LGBT-friendly restaurant known for its weekly special events, opened its doors on February 24. The Houston Press took a first look at the food, fun and fabulous-ness that is "Dining with the Divas" on Wednesday night. The evening was filled with lip-syncing and dancing by four performers in drag and was hosted by resident emcee Bubba "Bubbalicious" McNeely.
Reservations are recommended and guests are asked to leave a credit card by the phone to reserve seats at $3 per person. Dinner service is available for 7 and 7:30 p.m., with the show starting at 8 p.m. We arrived a bit early to check out the scene.
The covered patio is spacious and lined with AstroTurf. Pretty painted tin flowers line the back wall and when the sun goes down, the space is brightly lit. Inside, the dining area is filled with booths and four-tops, with a nice, full bar and a DJ booth toward the back.
The cocktails are colorfully named and a glass of wine costs between $6 and $9. Bottles range from $20 to $34. With "Marytinis" including Madonna's Double Chocolate Tini and the Super Hot Habanero Tini and specialty cocktails including the Mary Queen of the Rodeo (a spicy Bloody Mary) and the Southern Belle Sweet tea, the bar whets whistles with a variety of boozy delights.
We tried the Pepino Cooler for $8. Pinnacle cucumber vodka, fresh lime juice, triple sec, and sweet and sour makes for a refreshing sip. The Tajin chile-spice rim creates the picture of perfection in a sexy hurricane glass. It was delicious and definitely deserved a second round of tasting.
The menu is customized to fit Houston's palate of burgers and Tex-Mex. Appeteasers include typical bar fare not so typically named, like Britney Fried Spears (fried pickles), Loaded Ta-Ta's (potato skins) and Love Me Tenders (chicken tenders). We decided on Mary's Handbag, which meant we would get to try a variety of Mary's goods. The platter arrived with chicken wings, tenders, fried pickles, french fries, fried mac n' cheese and onion rings for $15.95.
Our bartender and server highly recommended two burgers, the Proud Mary and the Bar-Bra-Q, along with its famous homemade chicken potpie with a flaky puff pastry. We opted for the Proud Mary, a double-patty oozing with cheddar and jack cheeses, grilled onions, mushrooms, bacon and Mary's sauce — a tangy, semi-sweet version of a creamy Thousand Island. The gargantuan burger was quite a sight: Bigger than my face and stabbed through with a steak knife for easy sharing. It could've used a tad more salt and pepper for our taste, but the bun was soft and satisfying and the mushrooms and onions were super-tasty.
The dessert menu reads like a sweet dream, with Fried Twinks, Space City floats and homemade waffles with strawberries and vanilla ice cream, but we were totally distracted by a larger-than-life afro strutting onto the stage and forgot to order dessert.
The divas are indeed fierce. The boisterous emcee, Bubbalicious, reminded the audience to tip the girls throughout the performance. Reminders were unnecessary. These ladies rocked the house, both onstage and on the dinner floor.
Visiting from Jacksonville, Florida, was the beautiful and bodacious Brittany Moore. The crowd clapped along as she defiantly proclaimed (in lip-synced glory), "I will survive," with her golden-feathered boa whipping and floating around her like a magical cloud as she danced between the tables.
The first Hamburger Mary's opened in 1972 in the city by the bay's SoMa district. According to its site, the San Francisco location was humble, funky and friendly, an “open-air bar and grille for open-minded people." It's a motto the chain still uses today.
Hamburger Mary's does Houston's Montrose community proud. The backdrop of glitter and gold sets the perfect stage for fun and carefree entertainment in a casual, kicked-back setting where groups of friends come to celebrate birthdays or plain old Tuesday nights.
Check out the Hamburger Mary's website for event information and menus.
Hamburger Mary's, 2409 Grant in Montrose
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.