You attended the Pride march, watched the performers, and reveled in the eleganza at Denver’s PrideFest this past month. Images of flashy sequins and that sense of unabashed joy still sit with you. But now what? Not even Rupaul’s Drag Race compares to the exhilaration of a live drag performance. Luckily, thanks to Denver’s thriving lineup of drag brunches, you don’t have to wait until next June (or stay up until 1 a.m. for a live show at Tracks bar) to see your favorite queens again.
For those who aren’t familiar, drag brunches offer a mixed bag of queer entertainment—lip syncs, comedy routines, games, and more—all while patrons feast on tasty early day fare and bottomless mimosas. Outside of brunch events, most drag gigs are still performed at night, according to Denver Milk Market host Shirley Delta Blow. But those who participate in the queer artform have historically embraced the daytime events as a form of communal healing, particularly during the 1980s HIV/AIDS epidemic. Poppy Tooker, author of Drag Queen Brunch, said in a Thrillist article, “drag queens were throwing drag brunches to take care of their friends who were dying before anyone was taking care of them.” Nowadays, as queer culture has become more widely accepted, the events continue to gain popularity while serving as a welcoming environment for individuals to come together. “Drag brunch is a safe place for you to come and be yourself, no matter who you are or how you identify,” says Zarah, a regular drag entertainer at Triangle Denver’s brunch.
Since each local brunch experience has its own distinct flair, we asked the experts—the queens who host them—for the scoop on what to expect and what to order at each one.
In no uncertain terms, LGBTQ-friendly chain Hamburger Mary’s is a national mainstay in gay culture for its campy ambiance and high-profile drag acts. At its location in City Park West, self-proclaimed brunch babe Jessica L’Whor crafts a unique experience every weekend with new outfits, performances, and games. But the show—voted best drag brunch by the Colorado Drag, Initiatives, and Variety Awards two years in a row—never changes one thing: its ending. The finale consists of a drag roulette where the hosts perform a rapid-fire megamix of audience-selected songs with no prior preparation. It’s eccentric, and off-the-cuff, with a good dash of chaos.
What to order: L’Whor says you have to try the breakfast burrito or croissant sandwich, so don’t fill up on the bloody Marys. $10 with entrées starting at $10; Saturdays and Sundays, shows at 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.; call 303-993-5812 to reserve tickets; 1336 E. 17th Ave.
Tucked away in the Ballpark neighborhood’s beloved Dairy Block alley, the Denver Milk Market hosts a free drag bingo brunch every Sunday. Diners order food and drink from the 16 stalls and vendors inside before grabbing a seat on the Wazee Street patio for bingo hosted by mistress of ceremonies Shirley Delta Blow. It’s a “come whenever, leave whenever” event, but make sure you stick around for Shirley’s Diva Academy, in which she teaches the audience a few tricks of the trade to the tune of Celine Dion’s classic “My Heart Will Go On.”
What to order: Options include breakfast pizza and crab cake Benedict, but Shirley recommends the fluffy pancakes, which she says are the biggest ones you’ll ever see. Menu prices vary; Sundays, 11 a.m.–2 p.m.; first-come, first-serve with limited seating; 1800 Wazee St., Suite 100
If you want to support the youngest members of Denver’s drag community, book your tickets to Wild Corgi Pub’s drag brunch. On the first and third Sunday of each month, these events feature performances from local kids as young as seven years old, who spend weeks assembling looks and choreographing their numbers. The neighborhood joint “makes sure these kids have a safe place to go … and have a sense of community,” says host LaLa Shearz.
What to order: Get the chicken and Belgian-style waffles, served with bourbon maple syrup, says LaLa. Chocolate chip pancakes, a breakfast burrito, and a club sandwich are among the other iconic items on the menu. $25 (ticket price includes one entrée and a juice or soda); first and third Sundays of the month, 12–2 p.m.; book tickets online; 1223 E. 13th Ave.
For fans of a themed show, look no further than Triangle Bar. Each brunch uses a central icon or fixture of gay culture—Britney Spears or Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion, for instance—as inspiration for the day’s lineup. With a rotation of talented hosts like comedy queen Dixie Krystals and energetic diva Zarah, the theme is always transformed into performances of wildly different timbres. To make sure you’re never out of the loop while you watch, Triangle also plays music videos or the movie on their large-scale LED screen.
What to order: While Dixie and Zarah both rave about the crème brûlée french toast, the menu also includes savory hits like pulled pork Benedict and red salsa chilaquiles. $20 with a $5 deposit; Sundays, 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.; buy tickets online; 2036 N. Broadway
Drag brunch gets a Mediterranean spin at X Bar, which offers dishes from its onsite Saffron Grill. Held every Saturday and Sunday, the shows operate on a monthly cycle, with each recurring act putting their own spin on the show. For example, on the second Sunday of the month, Denver drag duo Bethany and Tiffany perform classic gay duets (Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande, anyone?), while on the fourth Sunday, hosts Juiccy and Venus Sexton offer a taste of the South with their jubilant gospel brunch. Juiccy says the latter is all about paying homage to where she grew up and the sheer joy of gospel culture.
What to order: The gyro scramble or the chicken and waffles pair well with the music during her and Venus’ show, says Juiccy. Entrée start at $10; Saturdays and Sundays, 12–3 p.m.; buy tickets online; 629 E. Colfax Ave.