Yes, the throngs outside Mary's can sometimes resemble airport security lines on a bad day. And to an outsider, the joint's menu appears like any other diner. But there's nothing standard about Mary's.
Since this rustic rockabilly bar burst onto the Sydney food scene in 2013, Mary's has become a go-to venue for everyone from burger newbies to the trendiest foodies. So we take a peek at what makes Mary's the hippest diner in town.
A few quality ingredients go far
Mary's care about making their burgers right. Top-quality patties made from a mixture of chuck, brisket and rump steak. 'Trashcan bacon' that's smoked on-site in – that's right – an actual trash can. The garlicky special 'Mary's sauce', and the soft steamed bun – it's this magic that draws in the crowds.
The biggest difference between a Mary's burger and any other is the quality of the meat. The grass-fed beef comes from O'Connor in Gippsland, Victoria, which is known to have among the best cattle in Australia. It's seasoned with salt before being ground, and cooked to juicy perfection.
The Mary's craze has even lured some of Australia's top chefs to get in on the burger act. Ex-Tetsuya chef Luke Powell lent a hand as Mary's opened, giving some flair to the first burgers ever cooked here.
Owners Jake Smyth and Kenny Graham – of Bodega & Porteño fame – are no shrinking violets either. So Mary's personality matches their own – flamboyant and in-your-face. But their clear, well-defined goal of creating a place where they would want to eat has worked – and if that atmosphere isn't your cup of tea, then avoid it entirely by just ordering in.
Classic menu done right
The Mary's menu is short, perfectly formed, and loyal to modern American diner charm. It starts with your standard burger of succulent beef, American cheese, crisp lettuce, fresh tomato, torched onion and fire-breathing Mary's Sauce, all on a soft white roll. But if you're not feeling the beef, swap it out for crunchy fried chicken instead – topped with cheese and that famous trashcan smoked bacon.
But what once really got people talking was the vegetarian burger. It's has Mary's sauce, cooked onions, fresh lettuce and American cheese paired with a flat mushroom cap. Suddenly biting into a veggie burger was not only far from an epic disappointment, but as good as the real thing.