When Brunch is Meant to be a Drag
Beloved Miami eatery continues to Serve the Best Food and Wildest Entertainment
Tell anyone about your recent trip to Miami Beach and you will inevitably be asked if you experienced the Palace brunch. Experienced is the right word because Palace is much more than a delicious eatery; it is a place to let loose, meet new people, enjoy amazing performances and make memories that will last a lifetime.
Palace offers two brunches every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and one on Monday. I arrived on a Sunday where a typical brunch starts with a chilled mimosa, the first of an unlimited supply. There are also a variety of delicious craft cocktails to choose from, all made fresh to order with house made infused ingredients. The Watermelon Cooler seemed to be the most popular, so it was what I ordered. It was the perfect beverage for a blistering hot Florida day.
Then came the menu; a vast list of options with something for everyone. My friends and I ordered a few items to share. We began with scrambled eggs that arrived fluffy and moist, accompanied by golden brown sausages and crispy herb potatoes. We then sampled the perfectly cooked filet mignon with a delicious hollandaise sauce, over creamy mash potatoes and roasted asparagus on the side.
We saved the best for last: french toast made with brioche sliced bread! It was crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, covered in the goodness of milk, cream, eggs, butter, and topped off with warm maple syrup, vanilla ice cream, nuts and fresh strawberries.
During the meal, the mimosas kept on coming. Also, the show started. It began with an opening act that featured the well-muscled waitstaff flooding the floor and leading the diners into a chant as the first queen took to the runway. Additional queens followed and then lucky guests were plucked from the crowd to share the stage and walk the runway, too. By this time, the energy level in the Palace was reaching the moon. The queens were flipping, dancing, climbing the rafters, and literally bringing down the roof. The house DJ, too, was working overtime to keep the energy at high octane.
Performances were generally solo numbers, however, the drag queens do squeeze in a lot of impromptu dance offs with one another. The chemistry between the talent is incredible and the banter between them is hilarious. “We really try to keep things fresh,” says Palace owner Thomas Donall. “Performers are encouraged to introduce new outfits and songs, and up their game on a constant basis.”
The show I experienced included commentary on the rash of bigotry and political attacks that have been directed towards the LGBTQ+ community from far-right conservatives in the state. “It is obvious that our governor has an agenda and the LGBTQ+ community is not represented on that agenda,” Donall explains.
After the show, the fun continued on the rooftop at Palace’s pool bar. Palace boasts one of the best views in all of South Beach. There are amazing selfie opportunities on the deck. Guests can also meet the drag queens in-person and take a dip in the pool. Don’t be surprised if you spot a celebrity or two. Andy Cohen, Crystal Waters, Nina Leaks, Ross Matthews, and Chase Chrisley were all recently spotted enjoying the rays on the Palace roof top.
There are many drag venues in the Miami and South Beach, but the Palace is the queen mother! It was among the first to open in the area and has served as an inspiration for all of the other drag venues popping up around the country. In the beginning, when Palace was still located at 1200 Ocean Drive, audiences were predominantly gay. The eatery was a safe haven for gay people to gather and have fun amongst their peers.
The drag business has grown exponentially in the past few years, much of it due to the success of RuPaul’s Drag Race. The show has mainstreamed the art of drag for millions. Today, gay and straight people from all over the world visit Palace. On any given day, the patronage is a 50/50 mix of straight and gay. Weekend brunches are packed with bachelorette parties, families, and a combination of men and women (and some children) who just want to have a fun time.
Palace has bragging rights to some of the biggest drag talent in the world, including Missy Meyakie LePaige, Joanna James, Elishaly D’Witshes, Noel Leon, Tiffany Fantasia, Shanaya Bright, and Nicky Monet; many of whom have been with Palace since the beginning. “They are the foundation and backbone of our restaurant and bar,” Donall confirms.
In addition to brunches, Palace hosts evening drag shows every night of the week, each with a different theme. Tiffany Fantasia hosts Mondays Games Night and an 1980s night called Way Back Wednesdays. On Thursdays, Poizon Ivy hosts Café Con Leche, and every Friday, Palace hosts its weekly RuPaul’s Drag Race event.
The dinner menu begins every night at 4pm. Donall suggests the Angry Meatball as appetizer. It is a spicy blend of beef, mozzarella and basil infused marinara served with a thick crust brioche. For the entrée, he suggests the Woke Stir Fry, a mix of vegetables, noodles, and teriyaki sauce. Chicken, shrimp, or steak can be added.
"But you really can't go wrong," he adds. "Everything on the menu is a showstopper; as are the performances!"