Celebrate Pride Month at the best drag brunches in L.A.


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May 04, 2023

Celebrate Pride Month at the best drag brunches in L.A.

Dating as far back as ancient Greek theater, drag is an undeniably legendary

Dating as far back as ancient Greek theater, drag is an undeniably legendary form of entertainment that's touched nearly every corner of the world. Major U.S. cities have been host to drag performances for more than a century — beginning with underground ballrooms in the mid-19th century and evolving into everything from bingo to dance nights. More often than not these were evening events, frequented by the LGBTQ+ community and their friends, and a rare opportunity for performers to have their talents seen and celebrated.


Despite an ongoing culture war, L.A.'s thriving drag scene is bursting with queens, kings, things and rebellious spirit.

Drag brunches flipped that model by bringing the art form to daytime audiences. In 2001, the now-nationwide Hamburger Mary's franchise introduced the concept to Southern California.

"A group of us drag queens would go to Hamburger Mary's Long Beach on Sundays and hang out and have bottomless mimosas," recalled Jewels Long Beach, executive director of entertainment at Hamburger Mary's. "Because we were there all of the time, I was like, ‘We should start a drag show at brunch.’"

Not long after, Hamburger Mary's began hosting "SoCal's only daytime drag show" — a tagline it was able to keep for a decade. The brand's popular West Hollywood location opened in 2006, and though the surrounding strip of queer bars now offer similar weekend drag brunch events, for several years Hamburger Mary's was the only neighborhood option.

Drag brunch, along with shows like "RuPaul's Drag Race," a 16-season-running competition series that has flourished into DragCon, an annual drag expo, has brought drag into the mainstream and solidified it as a craft to celebrate. Now fans of the show and its universe of queens show up to drag brunch hoping to catch an early-career performer or a special show from a past winner or runner-up.

"This is their art, their passion," said Brandon Waller, general manager of Sorry Not Sorry, a beer garden and restaurant in West L.A. that hosts drag brunch. Drag "gives performers an outlet to show the world who they are. And it gives us love — a shared love between the performers, the venue and the audience. Drag is real art, and I think that people need to recognize that."

Sitting in the crowd with strobe lights flashing and chart-topping songs blaring overhead, with every patron in the building singing along as a queen sashays across the stage in full glam, it's impossible not to feel the love that Waller mentions. While not necessarily known for offering Michelin-starred meals, drag brunches serve up an excess of inspiration and expression that still leave one feeling full — though bacon, avocado toast and bottomless beverages certainly help that cause.

Southern California's drag brunches have only expanded since they got their start more than two decades ago. Today, there's a "Wicked" parody in Orange County, an al fresco brunch with modern Latin American cuisine in Long Beach and a dazzling lineup of Black performers in downtown L.A., with more popping up all of the time. Here are 13 drag brunches to make reservations for the next time you want to add a little flair to your daytime weekend plans.

A note on tipping your queens: It's customary to tip at least $1 per song, and most drag brunches have staff on hand to break larger bills into singles. Some drag brunches have on-site ATMs, but it's recommended to bring cash with you. — Danielle Dorsey


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