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A drag queen performs at Hamburger Mary's
Responsible for bringing drag brunch to Southern California, Hamburger Mary’s hosts back-to-back drag brunches every weekend.
(Justine Jaime)

The best drag brunches in L.A. to visit during Pride Month and all year long

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 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.

June 6, 2023

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.

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Drag brunch, along with shows like “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” a 17-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, you’ll find drag competitions lighting up West Hollywood’s busiest block, bingo brunch with pole-dancing kings and queens in West L.A. and a whiskey-barrel-shaped bar in North Hollywood where Saturdays bring bottomless mimosas and drag performances. Here are eight drag brunches to make reservations for the next time you want to add a little flair to your daytime weekend plans.

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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

Build your community over a glass of orange wine or a square of focaccia at local, queer-owned businesses around L.A.

June 4, 2024

Showing  Places
A drag queen in a blue leotard and blond wig performs on an outdoor patio
(Justine Jaime)

Beaches Weho

West Hollywood Cuban Californian $$
Beaches Weho is for you if you want your drag brunch served with a side of day party. Saturday brunch ranges from drag competitions with queens bringing their best Beyoncé impersonations to Azucar, a monthly celebration of Latin talent, while weekly Wipeout Sundays feature back-to-back brunch seatings with two queens competing for the top honor. Performers make the most of the two-level, indoor-outdoor space that faces tour-bus-crowded Santa Monica Boulevard, so there’s plenty to see regardless of where you’re seated.

The menu here is described as Cuban Californian cuisine, which means nachos with plantains instead of tortilla chips and crispy-crackly fried empanadas with fillings like ham and cheese, a picadillo beef blend or Impossible picadillo. The lechon asado flatbread was sold out when I visited but sounded intriguing, with garlic mojo sauce, caramelized onions and a blend of white cheeses. House cocktails lean sweet and strong and, in true West Hollywood fashion, can be made keto-friendly by substituting monkfruit for agave. Beaches recently announced its purchase of Heart Weho alongside Lance Bass and Paul Nicholls, with plans to transform the space into Beaches Tropicana, a flagship restaurant and club with the same menu theme, set to open in the fall.
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A drag queen in big blond bouffant wig and frilly pink dress performing in a restaurant
(Silvia Razgova)

Hamburger Mary's

West Hollywood American $$$
Hands down my favorite thing about drag brunch? You can count on at least one Whitney Houston sing-along, and no one will judge your failed high note as you attempt the opening of “I’m Every Woman.” No, the rest of the crowd is just as tragically off-key and more concerned with attracting Allusia’s attention as she spins from table to table, collecting tips along the way.

Hamburger Mary’s is a nationwide franchise with Southern California locations in West Hollywood, Long Beach and Ontario. The West Hollywood location hosts three drag brunch shows every Saturday and four Sunday, often featuring former “RuPaul’s Drag Race” cast members and other notable queens. Though you can order any double cocktail in a foot-tall souvenir cup shaped like a fishnet-covered leg in a stiletto pump, Hamburger Mary’s is a restaurant, not a bar. That means there’s a full food menu, even if you drop by outside of performances. True to its name, there’s a list of burgers to specify to your liking, with Kobe beef, turkey, salmon and Beyond meat comprising some of your patty options. I opted for the Mary burger but couldn’t hear my server’s questions over the incredibly loud sound system. Somehow, I ended up with a spicy, well-done burger with jalape?os and Jack cheese. It probably would’ve been enjoyable had it been cooked to my preference, but the dish that I’d come back for is the spicy tuna tartare tacos in crispy wonton shells.

There’s no ATM on-site, so make sure you grab cash ahead of time. Also note that the menu doesn’t list prices and costs add up quickly. The show fee is $12, the souvenir leg cup is $31, and the burgers (with fries) run upward of $25 each.
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An orange-haired drag queen stands behind a seated restaurant diner
(Davide Laffe)

Idle Hour

North Hollywood American $$
The barrel-shaped bar first appeared on Vineland Avenue in 1941, when California’s blooming car culture convinced architects to construct commercial buildings that mimicked the products they sold. The taproom thrived through the 1960s and had another life as a flamenco dinner theater. The building went unoccupied for several decades and was named a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument in 2010. Idle Hour was opened soon after by 1933 Group with a full bar and restaurant.

Queen Lauren Banall hosts bottomless drag brunch two Saturdays each month on the spacious patio, which offers alll of the shade that’s required for a North Hollywood haunt; doors open at 11 a.m. and performances begin at 12:30 p.m. The brunch menu is one worth seeking out on its own, with shakshuka, potato and zucchini latkes and cheesecake-filled French toast — though a Caesar salad and an a?ai bowl are available if you prefer something lighter. Beverages range from spritzes and a tequila-fueled bloody Maria to bottomless mimosas for $16 per person and a breakfast shot with Jameson’s and butterscotch schnapps that’s served with bacon and orange juice.
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Queens at Micky's Bring it to Brunch pose with fans after the show.
(Julia Carmel / Los Angeles Times)

Micky's West Hollywood

West Hollywood Bar/Nightclub $
There were just a few dozen people at Micky’s on a recent Saturday, making it one of the more intimate drag brunches I’ve seen, but the energy stayed high throughout the show. With $5 tickets and reservations available online, the Cake Moss-hosted lineup goes from around 1 to 4 p.m. every Saturday.

The brunch menu is simple — there are only eight food options but plenty of cocktails, which tend to be the more important part of drag brunch. Micky’s also has one of the best bottomless mimosa deals I’ve seen in recent times: For $18, they bring a refillable pitcher of mimosas to the table.

On Sundays, stop by for Chingona, a Latin-themed drag brunch with a $5 cover plus all-you-can-eat tacos and a margarita pitcher for just $14. The fiesta is hosted by local legend Melissa Befierce, who placed as a finalist in the Boulet Brothers’ Dragula, alongside a rotating cast of dolled-up queens.
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A drag queen surrounded by fans holding up dollar bills.
(Justine Jaime)

Precinct DTLA

Downtown L.A. Bar/Nightclub $
Doors open at 11:30 a.m. for Precinct’s Over Easy drag brunch, and that’s about when you should arrive if you plan to eat before the 1 p.m. show. Downtown L.A.’s largest queer bar works out of a limited kitchen for Sunday drag brunch, and the wait gets long as orders pile up. My group placed our orders at 12:30 p.m. and received our plates about an hour later. Thankfully, costumed queens crooning everything from musical numbers to Diana Ross hits took to the stage to distract us from our hunger pangs, and $32 mimosa carafes kept the mood pleasant.

The crowd is a mix of locals, tourists, friends of performers and groups celebrating birthdays and bridal showers. It’s particularly heartwarming to watch as first-time drag brunch attendees are converted with showtunes into full-blown fans. Be warned that if you raise your hand to indicate you’re celebrating a special occasion, the emcee will beckon you onstage for a booty-shaking dance-off. The good news? You’ll get a shot regardless of where you place in the competition.

Your best options from the brunch menu consist of a very good breakfast burger with an over-easy egg and fried chicken tenders with waffles. A few omelets, peach brandy French toast and a vegan breakfast burrito round out the vegetarian choices. Over Easy drag brunch is hosted every Sunday, with $15 tickets available for purchase online.
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Toddler hands a queen a tip at drag brunch at Rocco's
(Julia Carmel / Los Angeles Times)

搁辞肠肠辞’蝉

West Hollywood Bar/Nightclub $$
I think it’s fair to say that Sunday drag brunches are significantly more rowdy than Saturday brunches, and afternoon seatings are always wilder than morning ones. If that’s what you’re looking for, I highly recommend the 3 p.m. drag brunch at 搁辞肠肠辞’蝉. 搁辞肠肠辞’蝉 Rocc-ettes perform at noon and 3 p.m. every Sunday, and $8 tickets can be purchased in advance online. But as with most drag brunches, things are running on gay time, which means performances are likely to be behind schedule.

搁辞肠肠辞’蝉 has an ATM for tipping the queens, and bartenders or servers can break larger bills into singles. The brunch menu includes various omelets and toasts, but the all-day menu is mostly pub fare (think pizzas and burgers). We ordered a “mega cocktail” called the Reverse Cowgirl, which was essentially a life-size glass cowboy hat filled with tequila, grapefruit and soda. (I would definitely recommend splitting the mega cocktails among more than two people.) Even after starting an hour late, the queens kept the show on track and moving quickly. 搁辞肠肠辞’蝉 also was the only drag brunch where I saw children tipping the queens (with a bit of help from their parents).
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The caramelized egg sandwich and bacon egg sandwich at Sorry Not Sorry
(Lea Godoy / Sorry Not Sorry L.A.)

Sorry Not Sorry

Rancho Park Breakfast/Brunch $
Miles away from West Hollywood’s “gayborhood,” you’ll find Sorry Not Sorry on a quiet section of West Pico Boulevard in West L.A. Teal and fuschia accents pop throughout the indoor and outdoor space, with drag brunch taking place on the back patio that’s dotted with white picnic tables and umbrellas. The bar-restaurant hosts at least one drag brunch every month, with theatrical queens and kings coming to the fuzzy magenta rug that serves as a stage. During Pride Month in June, the restaurant and bar is hosting drag king bingo on June 23 from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m., with Johnny Gentleman leading the festivities. Drag queen bingo will follow on June 30 from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m., with Morgan Wood hosting. Board games, giant Jenga, cornhole and beer pong will be brought out to play alongside bingo.

With a larger kitchen and space, Sorry Not Sorry has the freedom to get a little more creative with the brunch menu. The strawberry burrata salad is a fresh and bright departure from other indulgent offerings, and the turmeric garlic fries are downright addictive. General manager Brandon Waller’s favorite dish is the caramelized-onion egg sandwich with chipotle aioli and cheddar cheese on a soft brioche bun. A full bar is on hand for wine, beer and cocktails, with brunch beverages including Aperol spritz, micheladas and mimosas by the glass or bottle. For those who aren’t drinking, there’s a list of mocktails to choose from.
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A drag queen struts between two tables of fans at Stache.
(Julia Carmel / Los Angeles Times)

Stache

West Hollywood Bar/Nightclub $$
Stache is pretty no-frills, and Wigs & Waffles is a quintessential drag brunch. The menu includes typical bar fare — burgers, breakfast burritos, tater tots — alongside a full bar with bloody mary and mimosa pitchers. Orders are placed online and delivered to each table promptly, and the show, which is every Sunday at 1 p.m., starts within 15 minutes. There’s no ATM at Stache, though there’s a Chase and a Bank of America within a block of the bar, and bartenders can break larger bills into singles.

Though the performances usually are hosted by two queens, Maebe A. Girl and Hybrid, Hybrid said that Maebe was out that day doing “Congress things.” (Maebe, who is the first drag queen elected to office in the U.S., currently serves as representative for the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council and is a candidate for California’s 30th Congressional District.) But Hybrid was more than comfortable hosting the show alone, and though there were a lot of tough seats with blocked views of the stage, queens like 厂耻补诲é dutifully circulated around the bar and through the patio. The day we went was ’90s-themed, so performances included plenty of Destiny’s Child, TLC and Spice Girls. My favorite performer of the day was Luscious, who did a crash-course version of Janet Jackson’s Velvet Rope Tour, including outfit changes and choreography.
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