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SAVOR Sampling drag brunches
DISH Dining Guide
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2019-10-01

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If you like keeping up with culinary trends, one of the most prominent ones in Chicago also incorporates entertainment: drag brunches.

Of course, Kit Kat Lounge started this trend eons ago ( and you can see my take on its brunch at www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/SAVOR-Brunches-at-Kit-Kat-Lounge-and-Lark-/63934.html ). Since taking root there, drag brunches have sprouted throughout the city—including River North, which is sometimes early to the party; other times, it seems five years too late.

Recently, I went to the inaugural Dragalicious Gospel Brunch at the new spot Lips Chicago ( 2229 S. Michigan Ave.; LipsChicago.com ). The decor is as opulent as one might expect ( with a huge main room ), and some of the drag queens are also servers.

The price for this Sunday experience is cover plus $30 for brunch—but, boy, do these queens know how to entertain. With Ruff N' Stuff emceeing ( and putting on thunderous performances of her own ), the queens strutted, preened, lip-synched ( and sang live! ) to gospel standards as well as secular tunes like Mary J. Blige's "Just Fine" ( which almost had me jumping out of my seat ).

As for the food itself ( since this is a culinary column ), the menu items were quite impressive. My friend loved her chicken and waffles, and I was quite taken with the green eggs-and-ham omelet. ( Other selections from Chef Tom J. Schmitt include shrimp and grits, deluxe cheeseburger, Belgian waffles, crab cake Benedicts and other items ). Also, this a bottomless brunch, meaning there are unlimited mimosas and Bloody Marys.

Then there's Joy District's "District Divas" drag brunch ( 112 W. Hubbard St.; JoyDistrict.com )—held monthly on a Saturday. The same friend who went with me to Lips' brunch accompanied me to this one as well, and said the River North spot's event seemed like "an afterthought." Sadly, I had to agree ( at least at first )—but I do harbor hope.

For $50 ( ! ) per person, guests can partake of a brunch buffet and mimosa bar on Joy's second floor club level. However, things did not start promisingly: There were problems with our reservation ( which were eventually—and graciously—straightened out ) and the buffet, despite the variety of items ( ranging from pizza to Rice Krispie treats ), was merely adequate. Also, while it was a bottomless brunch as well, the mimosa carafe was not placed on our table until the end of the performance set. I had hoped things would be a bit more polished for this third installment of the brunch.

But the queens ( which the dazzling Mimi Marks led ) saved the day. Besides Marks, there were Khloe ( celebrating a birthday ) as well Lila Star ( who truly embodies that surname ) and RuPaul's Drag Race alumna Dida Ritz. They definitely worked hard for the money, and deserved every single that went their way. Speaking of which, there was one noticeable difference from Lips, in that there was a young man ( wearing what my friend called "Market Days attire" ) who provided singles for attendees' comfort.

Taking everything into account, Lips' brunch wins this drag battle—by an eyelash.

Note: Restaurant profiles/events are based on invitations arranged from restaurants and/or firms.


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