Saturday, May 29, 2010

Hamburger Mary's

One quick note about dinner last night: I headed out to Palm Springs, as I always do when I visit SoCal. I love that whole desert-meets-mid-century aesthetic. Really, it's almost as you'll turn a corner and Elizabeth Taylor or Bob Hope will be putzing around on vacation.

Out of all the establishments I could've chosen, this time I went to that relatively small, gay-friendly chain known as Hamburger Mary's. The restaurant has a large plaster statue of a smiling Mary, winking as she holds up a massive hamburger - think Bob's Big Boy in drag. Inside, tables of mostly gay male patrons of various ages will sit amongst movie posters of various movies with "Mary" in the title, all while dance mixes of contemporary music videos play on TV's in the background (the bar has a fairly large one).

Mary's has various offerings, but why the hell would you order anything but a hamburger? Besides, they have a massive list of hamburgers from which to choose (price range; around $12 - $17), including the Surf & Turf Burger (topped with popcorn shrimp), the Blue Boy Burger (bacon and lots and lots of bleu cheese), and the one eye-popping Mac and Cheese Burger topped with exactly what you'd think (because Americans just aren't fat enough).

There were also several "exotic meat" burgers (each set at $17), including kobe beef, ostrich, wild boar, Texas antelope, buffalo (which isn't all that exotic anymore) and - get this - kangaroo. I was going to order that the second I saw it but the waitress said they just didn't have any kangaroo meat. The way she put it, it sounded as if they hadn't had kangaroo for a very long time. Oh well. The one time I ate it - in 1998 at a nondescript, probably defunct All-American BBQ in Yucca Valley or Joshua Tree - I loved it. My waitress compared the flavor to ostrich, but I find them to be somewhat different. I'm not a big fan of ostrich meat.

So instead of kangaroo, I opted for the "Buffy the Hamburger Slayer" burger ($12): a half-pound of beef covered in red wine, Swiss cheese and Caesar dressing, and speared throughout with garlic cloves (pickles are complementary but you have to ask for them). I opted for the fries, instead of the cole slaw or potato salad, and I don't think I made a wise choice. I hardly touched the fries, which were a little shriveled and pretty much a throwaway item, but the slaw would've been very refreshing.

but I didn't come to eat fries - I came for a hamburger. And I really liked this burger. The first bite was so mellow. Even though I've eaten a lot of roasted garlic, I couldn't put my finger on the taste at first. The combination of the garlic and various toppings made this hamburger a flavorful pleasure. Yes, it kept falling apart, and yes, I eventually had to resort to eating it with a fork, but it was truly a deliciously moist and flavorful hamburger! I will likely have to seek out other burgers, if not specifically this one, the next time I am in PS or for that matter any other city that sports a Hamburger Mary's (NB: the closest one to Baltimore is in Cincinatti. I figured they would've opened one in Rehoboth by now, but I guess not)