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Men dressing up in women’s clothing is nothing new. Shakespeare wasn’t afraid to infuse some cross-dressing into a comedy. Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon stole a few scenes from Marilyn Monroe as a couple of bumbling dames in Some Like It Hot. In Jacksonville, a relatively new arrival to the local dining scene combines the men-in-drag theme with meat-and-potatoes pub eats.
Hamburger Mary’s has a dinner-theater-meets-neighborhood-bar vibe. It’s a nightspot of the Birdcage variety but without the South Beach tropical ambiance and Nathan Lane’s shrieking laugh. Instead, Mary’s is more of a bawdy watering hole spread out across one large, L-shaped room. The bar is centrally located, and a handful of TVs are tacked to walls throughout. The stage is situated to the left as one walks in, and on a show night the tables on that side of the room are closest to the action and the most desirable.
Of course, burgers are the restaurant’s signature dishes. The menu lists 12 from which to choose, each with a variety of options. For example, patty choices include the half-pound beef, turkey, black bean and chicken breast. Next, decide between brioche or multigrain buns. You may even have your patty atop lettuce cups for the healthiest of options. The “Proud Mary,” $13, is a meaty sandwich of two patties topped with grilled onions, bacon, mushrooms, lettuce, pickles and melted cheese. Spice-loving palates favor the “Black & Blues” burger, $10, generously finished with blackening seasoning, bacon, bleu cheese crumbles and red onion.
Burgers come with a choice of side—seasoned French fries, coleslaw, mashed potatoes and “tasty ta-tas” (tater tots). The menu is peppered with cheesy innuendos like that. The deep fried pickle wedges appetizer, $5, is dubbed the “Brittany fried spears.” Get it? For our money, the extra $1 fee for the sweet potato fries as a side is worth the charge.
The loaded mac-n-cheese, $9, with red onions, red peppers, diced tomatoes and green peas, is offered as a “special-tease” entrée. It’s good, but might be a better fit when ordered as a side to split among dining companions. The list of entrées is short and includes pot roast with mashed potatoes, grilled chicken breast with rice and veggies, and fish and chips (fried cod with French fries, coleslaw and tartar sauce); all are $11.
Certainly, drag shows aren’t everybody’s idea of entertainment. So, while you may enjoy the “Cap’n & Taneal” fish sandwich or the “Bird Cage of Paradise” turkey, bacon and avocado club (both $9) for dinner, be aware that the dessert is a 30-minute show full of extremely loud pop songs, sparkly costumes, big wigs and bigger makeup, and men who look good in heels.
Hamburger Mary’s
3333 Beach Blvd., St. Nicholas, 551-2048; hamburgermarys.com
Hours: Open daily 11 AM-1:30 AM, kitchen closes at 12:30 AM
Road Trip: There are just over a dozen Mary’s across the country, with three locations in Florida including Tampa and Orlando.
Reservations Required: The Mary’s Girls drag shows on Friday and Saturday start at 8 PM and 9:30 PM. Arrive late and you may not get in or have a place to sit. Admission policy for the weekday events, like nighttime karaoke on Wednesday, isn’t as rigid.
Rise & Shine: Sunday brunch with a show is offered weekly. Curtains rise at 11 AM.
Gratuity Not Included: It’s customary to tip a performer a few bucks during her routine. It’s not necessary, but doing so ensures you’ll receive some extra attention.
Tickets, please: Nope, not necessary. The show is included in the price of dinner.