Johnny Caito 7:07 p.m., July 28
Marie's Cafe: Massive Burgers and Milkshakes
So, if the Ed Bedford report on Marie's Cafe from a year ago is any indication, this North Park eatery is straight-up haunted by the ghost of the former owner. Cool.
Marie's might be easy to miss if not for the big banner that hangs from the building's awning and proclaims that the restaurant was voted as having the "Best Lunch" by the North Park News in two separate years. I love these kinds of signs because they practically beg for verification.
Inside, I found Marie's to be way bigger than the docile storefront would indicate. Two rooms, separated by a partition, stretched all the way to the back of the building. There were lots of booths and plenty of seats at the lunch counter as well. I would imagine a big crowd of late-night North Park revellers could pack easily inside.
I was sold on a hamburger by the sandwich board out front and I ordered the half-pound "North Park" burger with cheese on an egg and onion roll. It came with a bunch of fries, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and onions for just shy of $8. Because of the retro feel in Marie's, a milkshake seemed like the proper beverage, even though it cost almost five bucks.
All the servers were super nice and easy to talk to. They weren't icy professionals or anything, just really relaxed ladies with awesome attitudes. It was cool to take a break from the typical North Park scene girls who would have served my food at just about any other sit-down place in the surrounding blocks; sort of like stepping into the 40+ world for a minute, which I enjoy doing on occasion.
When my food came, I was flabbergasted by the sheer size of everything. The burger seemed like a meat-frisbee, but it had been perfectly cooked and carried a lot of rich, smoky flavor from the diminutive grill that I could see the lone cook working at the front of the room. The milk shake didn't come close to fitting into its glass and the excess had to be served in the metal cup in which the drink had originally been blended.
It was, frankly, a somewhat ridiculous amount of food and I dove headfirst into it like a little glutton. Yes, I ate the entire burger and finished the milkshake. I left a few fries. I think, at certain times like when I am out doing some drinking (Marie's is open late-night on the weekends) or when I am wildly famished, this burger might be just the ticket. The rest of the menu looked like it would satisfy equally: fried fish and chicken, sandwiches, meatloaf, spaghetti, and the usual run of American comfort food.
"Best Lunch" is really subjective, but Marie's might be a candidate for something more specific, like "Best Diner Food" or something. Anyways, I'll keep it on my mind for certain occasions as described above.
3016 University Avenue