Happy Place: Hamburger Mary's, 700 East 17th Avenue, 303-832-1333
The Hours: Daily from 3 to 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. (We think...more on that below.)
The Deals: $1 to $3 beer specials; $3 you-call-its; $2 well cocktails; half price appetizers.
Were we happy? Flip the page to find out.
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The Digs: Hamburger Mary's is nothing short of a carnival, capturing the novelty of a Hard Rock Cafe with a flamboyant twist. The joint is huge; there's enough booze to keep you drunk for days; and the music will fondly remind you of every gay dance club you've ever frequented. The main room is a spacious menagerie of tables that wrap around the horseshoe bar that sits against the rear wall, and when the sun shines down, the large windows open to the cosmopolitan street scene unfolding outside. There's a smaller, more sophisticated middle room, too, with high-top tables and polished bar stools, but if you want a real piece of the action, head straight for the shaded, enormous patio, scattered with iron tables and flat-screen televisions that are synched with the cotton-candy tunes blaring from the speakers.
The Verdict: It's more than annoying when restaurants fail to update their websites -- and that was just the tip of the iceberg at Hamburger Mary's, because figuring out the happy hour was like pulling teeth. The person who answered the phone told us it was from 2 to 7 p.m., but when we arrived, our server told us that the only specials were mimosas and Bloody Marys. When we moved to the patio, our new server gave us the drink specials mentioned on the phone, but not the appetizer specials. And on the way out, we asked yet another employee about happy-hour details, and were told that happy hour was only after 10 p.m. (The times listed on the previous page were confirmed by three employees via telephone.) Will the real happy hour please stand up?
But we will say this: Hamburger Mary's is a hell of a great time when the sun is blazing and you've got a few hours to kill getting completely shitfaced. The appetizers are bar-standard and bereft of surprises, but the large portions are greasy and starchy and provide an excellent base for whatever kind of bender you've got planned. We're always down for a large plate of nachos ($9.95 for a full order; $7.95 for a half order), but the "Cala-Mary," battered calamari with a Cajun dipping sauce ($4.50), won us over, too. The location is prime for walking to concerts or bar-hopping down 17th Avenue, and if you're in the mood for a happy buzz, the old queens at the bar are always good for a hilarious story.
Overall Grade: B-