The St. Louis location of national burger chain Hamburger Mary’s recently debuted in the Midtown Alley area, just east of Grand Center. We’ve been hearing tales of its fabulous food and colorful, fun atmosphere since the doors opened, so we recently ducked in to beat the heat and check it out.

Over-the-top is the best way to describe the interior of Hamburger Mary’s. It was a riot of color, mainly shades of pink and blue, with seating that ranged from booths to picnic tables. A cascade of disco balls and sparkly stars hung from the ceiling, and the walls were adorned with bric-a-brac like movie posters and velvet drapes. At the end of our visit, the check was presented in a red, leopard skin high heel. How fabulous is that?

Menu-wise, Hamburger Mary’s had a bountiful selection of starters, from sliders to chicken wings, and a decent amount of sandwiches and wraps to choose from. We dedicated this visit to the burgers, but the Mac-N-Cheese Fritters ($6) and the Turkey Reuben Hood ($9) are on the short list for further study on the next trip.

Custom burgers are all the rage in the Lou of late, with several places stepping up to serve high-end beefy creations. What sets Hamburger Mary’s offerings apart from the crowd is the variety of choices available to build a one-of-a-kind creation. There were eight different meat options listed, from the basic ground chuck to Kobe/Wagyu beef and even ahi tuna, chicken, a ‘brat’ patty and a blackbean patty for those who aren’t in a meaty mood. All the burgers came with a choice of four sides, and there were five additional sides, like sweet potato fries and onion rings, available for an additional dollar.

We went with natural Angus beef, cooked medium rare, for the Barbra-Q Bacon Cheeseburger ($10) with a side of seasoned fries, and the Guacamole B.J. ($10) with Tasty Ta-Tas (tater tots, that is). The Barbra- Q was slathered with thick BBQ sauce and adorned with bacon, jack and cheddar cheeses and a couple of onion rings. It was both sloppy and utterly delicious! The B.J. burger had bacon and jack cheese in addition to the guacamole, which made for a tasty combination, as well. Both of our burgers were built on the standard bun, but it’s worth it to spend the extra 50 cents and upgrade to the optional pretzel bun for a bit more structural stability (we ended up finishing off our burgers with a fork).

We left just enough room for dessert, and chose Deep Fried Twinkies ($5). These came three to a plate, with dollops of whipped cream and a raspberry drizzle. Even those who aren’t big fans of the standard Twinkie should give these a go, as they tasted just like a funnel cake and nothing like the spongy treat Mom packed in your lunch bag. There also were a full complement of Hank’s Cheesecakes and more custom confections, like the Mary Tyler S’Mores ($7).

Cool space and good food aside, we also found Hamburger Mary’s to be a pretty affordable dining option, and the restaurant is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner, so there’s never an excuse not to indulge your burger cravings.

Hamburger Mary’s, 3037 Olive Blvd., 533-6279, hamburgermarys.com/stlouis

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