Pros: gay, straight, and family friendly; good food
Cons: sub-par service
The first time I ever heard the phrase gay restaurant, it was in regards to the venerable Hamburger Marys in San Francisco (which Ive heard is now closed). I was 22 and just getting into the gay activist scene at my university. I wondered what might make a restaurant gay. Visions of pink vinyl alternating with black leather swirled in my mind. I was still very naive and had a lot to learn about just how normal and boring most gay and lesbian folks are; however, I was not disappointed with the great food, fun atmosphere, friendly staff, and campy-cool decor at the San Francisco establishment. The same cannot be said for the newest member of this franchise located in Las Vegas, Nevada...
Ive dined twice now at Hamburger Marys Las Vegas. Both times I was disappointed by the level of service. Both times I really enjoyed the food.
Marys Las Vegas has a nice atmosphere. You enter into a spacious bar/lounge area with plenty of room to meet up with a group of friends and hang out before a night on the town. (Right next door is the hipster Hard Rock Hotel and right up the street is the queer corners area with many bars, lounges, and retail stores.) The bar and restaurant are well lit and painted in soothing sea tones reminiscent of The Little Mermaid. There are old and new photographs, framed and hanging everywhere. Many feature celebrities or characters named, appropriately, Mary (Mary Tyler More, Mary Martin, Theres Something About Marys Cameron Diaz you get the picture).
The food is very good. Ive only tried the burgers, but what else are you really going to order at a place called Hamburger Marys? The 1/3 pound burgers are huge. Each plate comes with a knife because, unless you happen to be in the NBA, you must literally cut the sandwich in half in order to manage it. The all-beef giants are cooked to orderunless you happen to be my boyfriend who ordered his medium-well and received it quite rare. Luckily he was in the mood to enjoy it pink. There are several choices of buns. My favorite is the Hawaiian sweet roll. For those who want something a bit healthier than beef, you can choose a vegetarian or turkey burger with the whole wheat bun. The fries are golden, crispy, and abundant. You may also opt for potato salad, coleslaw, or fresh fruit as a side.
On both my visits it was not particularly busy. Probably half of the tables in the main dining area were filled, yet the service was less than satisfactory. On the last visit we sat for 10 minutes before someone took our drink order, then sat another 15 minutes before the drinks arrived. Both times the waiters seemed to be running around the rather haphazardly and inefficiently. One of two things came to mind: either they were understaffed or the waiters were new to the business and hadnt quite figured out the multi-tasking part of serving. Or perhaps, uncharitable as it is on my part, the staff was hired for their looks and not their talent. At any rate, Hamburger Marys Las Vegas could easily be one of the best places for burgers in town if the service was improved. As it is, casual visitors to Vegas will have nothing to write home about after dining at Marys unless they happen to come from the Bible Belt and get a charge out of seeing real live gay people eating.