Bars Restaurants

Mary’s, Newtown

There’s something about Mary’s. Is it a bar, is it a burger joint, or is it a new breed of Sydney venues that blurs the boundaries of small bars and restaurants?

In the short time it has been open, Mary’s Newtown has developed a reputation for burgers and to a lesser extent, fried chicken. The venue combines the talents of Kenny Graham (ex-Gardel’s Bar at Porteno) and Jake Smyth (ex-Bodega) with Luke Powell, ex-Tetsuya’s head chef in the kitchen.

Mary's Newtown
Mary’s Newtown

Mary’s is located on the graffiti-laden Mary Street with an unmarked entrance next to Kelly’s. On a weeknight at 7.30pm, a queue is already formed.

Inside, the fitout is grungy and dark with exposed brick walls, large graffiti on a wall, wooden furniture and light fittings made out of Jack Daniel’s bottles. A mezzanine level offers table service, otherwise, you sit on the ground floor and order at the bar. The staff are very welcoming and friendly, whether they’re behind the bar, the kitchen or on the floor. The vibe is edgy, the music is loud and the clientele is an eclectic mix of locals, hipsters and the curious food tourists.

Mary's Newtown
Pop Rock Fizz and Bloody Mary

The drinks menu has a modest range of cocktails but Mary’s isn’t essentially a cocktail bar. The Pop Rock Fizz ($18) is a fun drink that doesn’t take itself seriously, made with Vodka, grapefruit juice and Aperol topped with pop rock fizz. The Bloody Mary ($18) comes with a slice of good ol’ Kraft cheese, melted around the rim of the glass with a blow torch and topped with a pickled onion and crisp bacon. The visuals have the wow factor but the drink lacks the usual kick that a Bloody Mary is known for. There’s a good range of bottled beer including Young Henry’s and an international wine list on a black board.

The food menu is kept simple. You choose either burgers or fried chicken, both served in paper-lined plastic baskets.

Mary's Newtown
Fried Chicken (Half bird)

The fried chicken comes in a choice of half bird ($16), whole bird ($28), and a Larry Bird ($50) which has two whole chickens served in pieces. The deep-fried chicken has a dark golden hue and while the coating isn’t as crunchy as it appears, it’s mildly spiced and the chicken is incredibly moist and flavoursome. This is finger-licking good times, so be prepared to get up and get your own napkins near the kitchen.

Mary's Newtown
Mary’s Burger

Mary’s Burger ($14) has a thin meat pattie, cheese, lettuce, tomato and a special sauce. The bun is soft with a glossy sheen and collapses immediately as you unwrap it. For another $4, trashcan bacon is added which gives it a smoky flavour.

Mary's Newtown
View from Mezzanine Floor

So, is it a good burger? Well… it’s a burger. And it tastes not unlike one you’ve had at a popular fast food chain. But as it stands, social media, word of mouth and popular opinion have created an overrated hype… over a burger.

The popularity of Mary’s burger stands as testament that many of our good chefs, diners and reviewers are lapping up the fast food craze that once upon a time wore the label of “junk food”. Have we all lost the culinary plot, and how did we allow ourselves to be swept in a river of fried food with sliders, hot dogs, burgers and chips? This is a topic to chew over in another article. For now, the beer at Mary’s is good and the lure of a whole bird of fried chicken beckons.

Mary’s, Newtown
6 Mary Street
Newtown, Sydney

Opening hours: Monday to Friday 4pm – midnight; Saturday 12pm – midnight; Sunday 12pm – 10pm


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About the author

Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is the Founder/Editor of popular online magazine Gourmantic and Cocktails & Bars, a website dedicated to cocktail culture and the discerning drinker. She is named in Australian Bartender Magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential List since 2013, is a member of The Academy responsible for judging the World’s 50 Best Bars. She has also judged the inaugural Australasian Whisky Awards and various national cocktail competitions.