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Hamburger Mary's


MarketStEl
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Watching the Mummers Parade on TV Saturday (yes, I did wander over to Broad Street briefly in the middle of the string bands), I saw several ads for a recently-opened burger joint on Chestnut Street, Hamburger Mary's.

This is the Philadelphia version of a legendary San Francisco eatery/bar that has spread to about 15 cities, mostly on the coasts. Menu is, of course, burgers, along with related grill fare and some salads in a nod to the California sensibility.

I've scoped out both the restaurant (decor looks like a '60s hallucination) and the upstairs video bar, Dragonfly (much more minimalist and High Modern stylish, probably to match the men there). I've looked at the menu (promising) and read a few reviews (decidedly mixed, though the place gets high marks for service and atmosphere). I've even met the co-owners, a trans-Atlantic gay couple who were hanging out at Woody's karaoke night a month ago.

What I haven't done yet is eat there myself. I'm more than game, though. Anyone else? The restaurant's straight-friendly.

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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Watching the Mummers Parade on TV Saturday (yes, I did wander over to Broad Street briefly in the middle of the string bands), I saw several ads for a recently-opened burger joint on Chestnut Street, Hamburger Mary's.

This is the Philadelphia version of a legendary San Francisco eatery/bar that has spread to about 15 cities, mostly on the coasts.  Menu is, of course, burgers, along with related grill fare and some salads in a nod to the California sensibility...

What I haven't done yet is eat there myself.  I'm more than game, though.  Anyone else?  The restaurant's straight-friendly.

"Straight-friendly" probably wouldn't make an impression on me. I'm totally lacking in GAYDAR.

One time in college I was schlepping down Kimbark Avenue when I ran into a guy from an English class. After chatting a bit, I asked if he wanted to grab some dinner. (It was dinnertime, mind you.) His eyes LIT up and he exclaimed, "I'd LOVE to go out with you! But I have this rash on my back..."

I cocked my head to the side and gave him my most incredulous Scooby-Doo look, thinking, "Why would you take your shirt off at a dinner table?"

Then the light bulb went off and he realized--"Oops!!" I staggered off to dinner solo that night. :wacko:

Anyway, I'd be willing to try a burger here the next time I'm in Philly--especially if KatieLoeb shows up. :smile:

There are two sides to every story and one side to a Möbius band.

borschtbelt.blogspot.com

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Sandy:

My understanding is that there's a very active outpost of Hamburger Mary's in Provincetown, MA. At least that's the first one I'd heard about from some of my waiters in the know. That might explain the Gaydar going off the scale...

Anyway, I'd be willing to try a burger here the next time I'm in Philly--especially if KatieLoeb shows up. 

Ah Fress - you're such an incurable flirt. Part of your charm for me. I'm still looking forward to your inaugural visit. :wink::biggrin:

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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I had no idea there were Hamburger Mary'ses in other cities. The original here closed down in spring of 2001 after a near-30-year run.

I lived within a two-block radius for nearly a decade, and have many fond memories of the old place. The food went up and down as to quality, but was mostly good hearty fare, and the institution continues to be missed.

Cheers,

Squeat

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I'm pretty sure the the original "Hamburger Mary's" opened on Kuhio Avenue in Honolulu, Hi.

For many years they served some of the best Burgers in Honolulu plus Veggie Favorites and Salads at meal time to a mixed crowd that became predominantly Gay at night when the Disc Jockey's began and the Back Bar opened.

Irwin

I don't say that I do. But don't let it get around that I don't.

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I'm pretty sure the the original "Hamburger Mary's" opened on Kuhio Avenue in Honolulu, Hi.

For many years they served some of the best Burgers in Honolulu plus Veggie Favorites  and Salads at meal time to a mixed crowd that became predominantly Gay at night when the Disc Jockey's began and the Back Bar opened.

Irwin

Can anyone else confirm this bit of genealogy?

The 15 Hamburger Mary's currently open all appear to trace their roots to the now-closed San Fran establishment. Perhaps the folks who opened it had been to Hawaii earlier?

For the Philadelphians, and any other eGulleteers who are within hailing distance: Sounds like there's interest in checking the place out, even though the food's gotten less-than-stellar writeups. Since I don't want to commit a weekday to this, how does a Saturday in the early or late afternoon sound? Maybe the week before Pizza Club 05.01?

IOW, Saturday, 1/22, at 5. This would make either a late lunch or an early bird dinner, and anyone who cared could hang out for a bit at Dragonfly afterwards. (Or maybe not. Saturday early evenings are gay-bar dead zones. OTOH, we'd probably have the run of the place to ourselves.)

Any takers? As usual, I'm willing to negotiate on time. If enough people decide they're in, I'll contact the restaurant beforehand in case we need to set aside a large table.

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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I'm pretty sure the the original "Hamburger Mary's" opened on Kuhio Avenue in Honolulu, Hi.

For many years they served some of the best Burgers in Honolulu plus Veggie Favorites  and Salads at meal time to a mixed crowd that became predominantly Gay at night when the Disc Jockey's began and the Back Bar opened.

Irwin

Can anyone else confirm this bit of genealogy?

According to this article in the Washington Post and my memory,

Billing itself as a "family establishment for a new kind of family," the original Hamburger Mary's opened in San Francisco in 1972.

I wouldn't be surprised if the Honolulu location wasn't somehow closely connected with the SF place, however. There was almost a 'tiki sensibility' about the Folsom Street location (not in the Castro, as Google has lead me to many misrepresentations, but South of Market), and Hawaii was definitely a vacation destination for the San Francisco gay community in the '70s.

The penultimate paragraph's assessment:

With alacrity, our lunches disappeared from sight. "Juicy," said one. "Very juicy," agreed another. "Messy," said a third, "but good. Very, very good."
could easily have applied to the Folsom Street location in its heyday.

Cheers,

Squeat

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