At Epernay's Royal Brunch on Sunday, Drag Queens Are the Main Course

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Where to brunch in Denver is always a dilemma, as would-be diners ponder questions like these: How’s the food? How’s the mimosa? How’s the space? How’s the wait staff? Can we have a conversation there? How far is it? How long is the wait? Friends can bat these questions back and forth for so long that before you know it, it's dinnertime.

But one downtown restaurant could have the ultimate answer. Epernay Lounge has introduced a Sunday brunch with a twist: Royal Brunch meets at the intersection of fun and fantastic, with some of Denver’s drag royalty presiding over the festivities.

The brainchild of Epernay VIP host and event planner Matthew Edward Campbell, Royal Brunch was designed as an alternative to the usual scrambled eggs and toast spread. “Our lounge is already a great place for some of the most amazing sushi and New American meals, along with one of the largest champagne selections in town,” say Campbell. “But we wanted to open up our menu to the pleasures of brunch and create something along the lines of a European tea dance mixed with a gay T-dance, and so the concept of this space expanding to an afternoon of cuisine and drag really seemed exciting.”

For Americans, brunch is already our version of British tea — but a tea dance differs from proper tea by being less stiff upper crust and much more sweet French toast, and when you toss in the fun of a gay T-dance, popularized at late-afternoon gatherings at gay resorts, you have fun pouring out faster than the champagne in those bottomless mimosas. In the spirit of the T-dance, Epernay’s Royal Brunch is for late risers, starting at 2 p.m. Sundays and ending at 6 p.m., so you can go home and get ready for Monday (or enjoy a later night out elsewhere if you're a real weekend warrior).

The Epernay space is perfect for lounging through brunch, with plenty of large tables for gaggles of pals and a long bar with friendly tenders for singles and smaller parties of two. The new brunch menu includes Kobe beef omelettes, vanilla French toast, house-smoked salmon, eggs Benedict with prosciutto and a fanciful fruit parfait. All food prices are a la carte — and twenty bucks gets you that bottomless mimosa with sweet champers from Epernay's massive selection; the friendly, nimble staff is quick to keep glasses full.

The main event of the Royal Brunch, though, is the entertainment provided by the gorgeous drag hostesses. Diva Dozen royalty Victoria Sexton and Felony Misdemeanor, along with the legendary Harley Quinn and a revolving door of guest artists, will keep you entertained with a few rounds of drag bingo (bingo with a sexier edge than your grandma’s version) breaking through the thumping sounds of a house DJ who also presides over immersive performances from each queen. And they use every inch of Epernay’s runway-like floor to click-clack their heels through dance moves as they lip synch their way into your heart.

Future brunches will trade out bingo for other fun games for an adult audience  — but the drag will be always be paramount to the festivities, as the queens interact with tables of attractive individuals or get a wallflower to cut loose and cut a rug.

Every brunch also gives back to the community, with a percentage of the day’s proceeds donated to a LGBTQ organization. For the next few Sundays, the Center will be the beneficiary — which means you can support a good cause while having a very good time.

The Royal Brunch runs every Sunday from 2 to 6 p.m. at Epernay Lounge, 1080 14th Street. You can make reservations at 303- 573-5000 or at epernaylounge.com; walk-ins are also welcome.

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