"You have got to try their fries," a friend advised when she heard I was going to Marly's Grill.
The homey little place serves burgers, cheese steaks and hoagies in the location that used to be Roque's Mexican restaurant. It's located in a triangle-shaped building on the north side of State Street between 28th and Lemp. The walls are painted teal and red, possibly a vestige of the former Roque's.
Marly's is the second local food outlet for Blue Sky Bagels owner Mark Hansen and is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week.
The menu at Marly's features the usual burger options, each with one or more one-third pound handmade patties. They have five different styles of Hoagie sandwiches with a wide variety of toppings to choose from. Marly's also has six grilled cheese steak sandwich options. Those feature either shaved steak or chicken breast along with the requisite grilled onions and provolone cheese.
Parents of small children can rest assured that Marly's has a portion of the menu devoted to "Kids Stuff." And then there are the fries. The french fries are fresh cut with the skin—the best part of the potato—left on for added taste and crunch.
My first visit to Marly's was during a Friday lunch hour. The place was busy; all the tables were full. We both ordered hoagies. My wife had the veggie ($3.59) while I ordered the pastrami ($5.49). Having been advised about the fries, we also got an order of regular fries ($1.35). The service was friendly, the wait for our food was not overly long, and our order came with a full-sized squirt bottle of fry sauce.
The hoagies are both tasty, the regular-sized fry order was easily large enough for two people, and their fry sauce was delicious.
After that initial experience, it wasn't long before I was back for a second visit. This time, I took my youngest daughter—whom we sometimes call Marley—out for a dinner with dad at her namesake restaurant. The dinner crowd was smaller that evening, but the service was no less friendly.
My daughter ordered a very basic cheeseburger ($4.55) while I opted for the southwestern chicken steak sandwich ($5.89). Having enjoyed the fries—and especially the fry sauce—before, I made sure we added another regular-sized order of fries to our meal.
Both of us enjoyed the food. The sandwiches were flavorful and even without many of the condiments I'd have ordered, my daughter's cheeseburger was quite good. My steak sandwich was hot, spiced with a dose of ancho chili sauce, and like any good steak sandwich should be, messy. Even my daughter, who again, had ordered a very plain cheeseburger, enjoyed her tastes of my steak sandwich.
We finished off the burger, the sandwich and all the fries. In addition, this time, we also learned the secret of the sauce. While most fry sauces are made with ketchup and mayonnaise, Marly's uses sour cream in place of the mayonnaise.
Sitting in Marly's with my youngest daughter dragging the last of our fries through a generous squirt of that special fry sauce, I considered the initial advice I was given about Marly's: Try the fries. The fries are good, sure. They're crisp and flavorful, and done just right. However, if I ever have to give advice to someone about Marly's, it will definitely be, "Try the fry sauce."
—Curt Nichols is revising his own personal fry sauce recipe to include sour cream, too.