If you've waited this long to snag a table at one of the many restaurants participating in Denver Restaurant Week, it may not be too late for redemption. Peruse the menus and hope for the best for a last-minute reservation before the ten-day extravaganza ends on Sunday, March 4. For more food and drink fun this weekend, address all the important stages of your development: Start with a petting zoo, expand your horizons beyond beer, and finally learn how to throw a party you wouldn't be embarrassed to invite your parents to. Here are the six best culinary events this weekend, as well as more to put on your March calendar.
Friday, March 2
Chef Kelly Whitaker of Basta and Mona Esposito founded Noble Grain Alliance in 2016 in an effort to revive cultivation of heritage grains in Colorado. While people are likely to know those lumpy tomatoes in the store are heirloom varieties, not many of us are familiar with Turkey Red or White Sonora wheat. This March, five restaurants in Denver and Boulder will partner with the Alliance to show off incredibly flavorful heritage grains by creating dishes made entirely with local or regional grains. Visit Basta (from March 2 through March 4); PMG Wine Bar (March 5 through March 11); Arcana (March 12 through March 18); Black Cat Bistro (March 19 through March 25); and Mercantile Dining & Provision (March 26 through March 31) to try out the food and support the Alliance. You can get details on March Grain Madness at Noble Grain Alliance's website.
If you're an animal person, you'll want to run (or gallop, caper, hop or trot) over to Zuni Street Brewing, 2355 West 29th Avenue, for its first-ever Zuni Street Petting Zoo on Friday, March 2. Even if you're not an animal lover, a couple of beers are sure to soften you up — though maybe not as soft as the baby alpaca that will be in attendance. Colts, donkeys and goat kids will be on hand as well, though hominid kids seem to be native to this taproom, so if you're a parent, feel free to bring your own little animals. Not a parent? Prepare to sharpen your elbows and don't back down from the wave of immature Homo sapiens heading toward you and your new four-legged friends. Admission to the zoo is free from 4 to 6 p.m.; visit the brewery's Facebook page for info.
The Old West was full of many things (swinging saloon doors, dusty streets and hookers with hearts of gold, if the movies are to be believed), but one thing the era lacked? Reliable transportation — at least until railroads opened up the American interior. Whether you're a transplant from back east, a history buff or a railway aficionado, it's all aboard to the Colorado Railroad Museum's Rails and Cocktails lecture on Friday, March 12. Get to the museum, 17155 West 44th Avenue in Golden, at 5:30 p.m. for a sneak peek at the exhibits and to pick up your drink at the bar (two drinks are included in the $25 admission); the lecture begins at 6:30 p.m. and will cover railroad-related art at Denver's American Museum of Western Art. Pick up your tickets at the Colorado Railroad Museum website.
Saturday, March 3
Craft beer is old news; everyone knows about it, everyone drinks it, everyone loves it. So what's a discerning drinker to indulge in to let all those beer-swilling peons know his beverage game is a step above? Sake, of course. And so Uncle Joe's Hong Kong Bistro, 891 14th Street, is the place to be on Saturday, March 3, when it hosts a premium sake tasting from 2 to 5 p.m. More than 25 kinds of sake (including three Colorado products) and apps will grace the restaurant's dining room; there will also be a sake barrel-opening ceremony (kigami baraki), and guests will leave with a sake tasting cup. Get your tickets ($50 on Eventbrite, $60 at the door) before anyone else finds out.
Don't be fooled by the sunshine this week — we've still got three weeks until spring arrives. Enjoy the last days of winter with the ultimate comfort food: chili. Zach's Chili Challenge will take over the McNichols Building, 144 West Colfax Avenue, from 6 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, March 3. Get unlimited bowls of chili from Rackhouse Pub, Sol Cocina, Big Daddy's Burger Bar and newcomer the Brutal Poodle, among others, plus drinks from Comrade Brewing Co., Crooked Stave, Rocker Spirits, Stranahan's, Mockery Brewing and more. The Challenge benefits The Morgan Adams Foundation, a nonprofit that raises money for pediatric cancer research. Find out more and get your ticket, $50 (GA) or $100 (VIP), at the organization's website.
Sunday, March 4
You might know how to mix a cocktail or two (Jack and Coke doesn't count), but do you know how to throw a cocktail party? We're not talking about a beer-pong tournament in the garage and a bottle of vodka, carton of orange juice and red Solo cups left out on the counter. We mean an honest-to-God party for real adults (some of them with jobs and mortgages!) who aren't going to be impressed by salted caramel Stoli on the rocks. Find out how to throw a real bash, with enough aplomb that you won't end up stuck behind the bar all night, at Denver Central Market's Education Series: Cocktail Class on Sunday, March 4, at 4 p.m. The free class will take place at Curio Bar in the Market, 2669 Larimer Street. Spots are limited, so visit Curio's Facebook page ASAP to find out how to register.
Keep reading for even more events in March.
Wednesday, March 7
Elevate that oh-so-crafty Blue Moon beer with Beethoven and Brews on Wednesday, March 7, from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m., when the Colorado Symphony's ongoing series hits Blue Moon Brewing Company, 3750 Chestnut Place; its largest performance group to date will take advantage of the expansive taproom to serenade drinkers with a selection of classical music while the suds flow. For $65, guests will enjoy a performance by symphony musicians, plus appetizers and two pints; $85 VIP tickets include a brewery tour, VIP seating, souvenir glassware and an additional tasting. Because no one in Colorado can truly enjoy a happening without a beer in hand, these events sell out quickly, so nab your ticket at coloradosymphony.org. And if you miss out on this one, you can always book the next event in the series, at Left Hand Brewing on Wednesday, May 30.
Thursday, March 15
Great Chefs of the West is back on Thursday, March 15, for another year of dazzling your tastebuds and raising money for the National Kidney Foundation. This is the 35th year of the event, and the roster of participating restaurants is perhaps the best yet: The Populist, Ototo, Sushi Den, Rioja, Mercantile Dining & Provision, Izakaya Den, Hop Alley, Fish N Beer and Beast + Bottle, among others, will compete at the Exdo Event Center, 1399 35th Street, to see who can create the best dish. Add to that an open bar with signature cocktails and a live auction, and the night can't get any more fab. Get your ticket for the fest, $200, at the National Kidney Foundation's website.
Thursday, March 22
If you've eaten at the SAME Cafe, you know it's not the same old story. Because of the restaurant's mission to provide people of all income levels healthy food, the menu doesn't include prices; customers pay what they can or swap volunteer hours in exchange for a meal. But there are other, subtler touches that aren't immediately apparent. For instance, there are always two pizza, soup and meal choices on the menu — one vegetarian — so that customers are able to make a real choice about what they want to eat. That's an organization dedicated to treating people with real dignity, and you can support the eatery at the So All May Eat Gala on Thursday, March 22. From 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., Space Gallery, 400 Santa Fe Drive, will host the fundraiser, where you enjoy small plates and beverages from Que Bueno Suerte, City O' City, The Corner Beet, Renegade Brewing Co., Woody Creek Distillers and more. Tickets are a bargain at $60; find out more on SAME Cafe's Facebook page and snag your tickets at eventbrite.com.
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Saturday, March 31
Imagine that old stalwart The Dating Game was still on the air. Imagine you went on it and didn't end up on a date with a serial killer; instead, you went out with a nice boy or girl and had to brew a beer together the first time you met. In a nutshell, that's the premise of Collaboration Fest. The beer festival has spent the past five years teaming up breweries and seeing what maniacal brews come from the partnership. This year, the fun is moving to bigger digs at the Hyatt Regency Denver, 650 15th Street, where on Saturday, March 31, you'll be able to imbibe creations from nearly 100 teams of brewers. Our most anticipated collabs? Local favorites Our Mutual Friend and TRVE Brewing Co., and Renegade Brewing Co. and French brewery Brasserie du Baril. The event runs from 4 to 7 p.m., though VIP ticket holders get in at 3 p.m. Get your ticket before the fest sells out at the Collaboration Fest website.
If you know of a date that should be on this calendar, send information to firstname.lastname@example.org.