Review: Hamburger Mary’s

(Pictures coming later)

I can’t tell you how much time I spent at the old Hamburger Mary’s.  In college, it was a regular hangout for my friends and me, and their karaoke (er, Mary-Oke) was a lot of fun.  I even liked it after it switched to Universal Grille, as a lot of my favorite things about Mary’s stayed around– including my favorite burger, the Big Kahuna burger.  I talked and talked about this burger to Terry– as longtime followers of this blog may know, Pulp Fiction is one of our favorites movies (I have a cat named Mrs. Mia Wallace) and “That is a tasty burger!” is often quoted when we actually find a tasty burger.  We’re dorky, we know it.

So when Hamburger Mary’s reopening, under new ownership, was announced– I was excited just to get back that darn burger.  I had hoped that they’d have it.  I checked their menu and they did– and then I promptly forgot about the fact that it was open until, on a Sunday, I saw their Facebook status that touted $2 Mimosas and $5 Bloody Marys.  I turned to Terry: “Bloody Marys for breakfast?” I asked.  That was a silly question.  This was, of course, before Ohio’s law changed to allow alcohol sales at 11 AM, so it was a really, really late breakfast.

We hauled ourselves out of our Sunday routine of newspapers and coffee and down the street to Hamburger Mary’s.  We were the only folks there aside from the really fantastic, exuberant servers.  We started out ordering a bloody mary (Terry) and a mimosa (me).  The mimosa was– well, it’s orange juice and champagne.  You can’t really go wrong, can you?– and the bloody Mary was spicy and strong, just like it’s supposed to be.  Since then, I’ve tried other cocktails– I’ve had the “Pop Your Cherry-tini,” which features cherry vodka and the Cincinnati favorite red cream soda, and their take on a Long Island Iced tea, Southern-style, whose name will cause my google searches to become quite strange.  Check it out yourself– think peach tea with a kick.

The menu is kitschy and cleverly named.  Though many of the dishes are standard sports bar fare, most have been given an interesting twist (and cute names).  Chicken wings (Wangs ‘n’ Thangs), Cala-Mary, Macho Nachos– you get the idea.  The names all evoke cult classics of the past, and are at home in a place where we’ve seen Britney Spears videos, Dreamgirls and Madonna on the video screens.  Sorry guys, no baseball or football was to be found here.

We decided on burgers.  Terry ordered the Hawaii Five-O Kahuna burger (which used to just be called the Big Kahuna burger)– pineapple, teriyaki, Mary’s special sauce (which is essentially 1000 Island dressing), cheddar, a beef patty on a toasted bun.  He loved it– he had ordered it medium rare, and it came medium– so slightly overcooked, but still juicy.  The bun was sturdy enough to hold up to the toppings– a good quality in a burger.

I ended up with the Barbra-Q burger– inspired, of course, by Barbra Streisand.  A gigantic, handmade onion ring sits atop barbecue sauce, Monterey Jack cheese and crisp bacon.  Delicious– if a bit messy, but that’s part of the fun.

On other trips, Terry and I have both gotten the same burgers, and they’ve been consistently good.  We’ve tried the Cala-Mary, which was incredibly tender– not something I expected.    Service, too, has been consistently good– attentive, funny and charming, and they deliver your check in a cute high heel.

Overall, the experience is fun, inclusive and charming, and the food generally quite good.  It’s great for a Friday night, or brunch with the girls (my mother, in particular, LOVES this place).  The bar is not completely finished yet, but they’re working on it.  The Hamburger Mary’s in Chicago also has its own microbrews– will we see that in Cincinnati? I sure hope so.

Hamburger Mary's on Urbanspoon

  • http://www.larakretler.com Lara Kretler

    Great news – thanks! I’m so glad Mary’s back. Do you know if they still have that killer house salad they used to be known for? It had dried cranberries, pistachios, mixed greens and a killer vinaigrette.

  • S

    Man I miss that place. I went once or twice after the switch to Universal Grille but it just wasn’t the same. Now I’m really missing Cincy and getting hungry!

  • Here they come

    All the queers will be back. Yeah!!!!!

  • http://www.hoperatives.com Carla

    “The Hamburger Mary’s in Chicago also has its own microbrews– will we see that in Cincinnati? I sure hope so.”

    Oh, that would just be amazing!

    Carla

  • http://videosonyourwebsite.com Ron

    Glad to hear the Kahuna is still there. Mary’s was one of my favorie places for lunch when I worked downtown

  • bob

    Worst hamburgers in Cincy. The health department should shut them down. I almost swallowed a peace of a plastic bag that was in my salad *EDITED*

  • http://willflyforfoodblog.com Christina Baita

    Bob must own a burger joint! Of course, I’d be upset if my salad had a bag in it too although not the worst thing one could swallow I suppose. Michael was all excited that I knew the woman’s name in the picture was Mary! LOL I will definitely have to try it now. Especially if they have this salad that Lara mentioned.

  • http://willflyforfoodblog.com Christina baita

    I finally had the opportunity to eat at Hamburger Mary’s when my Mom was in town last month. We also had my 6 year old with us. The staff was awesome. The food, not so much. Michael’s mac-n-cheese was brought out first and had so much pepper in it that even I wouldn’t have been able to eat it. The waitress gladly took that back and apologized to the boy.She brought him a second choice of a cheeseburger but it was absolutely burnt! Mom and I got the meatloaf dinner to share and I’m glad we did because the portions are quite large. That actually wasn’t too bad although still quite peppery.

    I’m really dumbfounded why anyone would use so much pepper in children’s food. As far as the burnt burger, perhaps the grill wasn’t quite properly heated since we got there literally at 5pm when they opened?
    .-= Christina baita´s last blog ..Cincinnati Ballet Performs Cinderella in February =-.