Best Gay Bar

>Neither strictly gay nor strictly a bar, newcomer Hamburger Mary's nevertheless qualifies as a breath of fresh air -- literally -- on the gay-bar scene: Its doors-wide-open breeziness is one reason it's such a refreshing place to sink a drink. A welcome jewel in the city's rejuvenation plan for the Wilton Drive corridor near Five Points, this uptempo eatery has a fully stocked bar, including Foster's, Guinness, and Bass Ale on tap and as many sprightly and colorful concoctions as there are colors of the rainbow (signature drink, naturally: Bloody Mary). Weekday happy hours (2 to 8 p.m.) and daily specials keep the costs down and the fun quotient high. Lively, friendly, campy service adds to the frivolity. Part of a California-based chain of "alternative" bar/restaurants generally located in cities' gay neighborhoods (Hillcrest in San Diego, West Hollywood in Los Angeles), this Mary's is only a few months old but quickly coming into its own. Generous outdoor seating, bright colors, and casual-chic furnishings help add to the lighthearted, high-energy charm. And the food, mostly juicy variations of big gourmet burgers, is pretty tasty too. New, free valet parking -- a sign that the management here is on the ball -- nullifies the only real negative of its growing popularity. Indeed, as its slogan would have it, you need only "Eat, Drink, and Be... Mary!"

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