It's a boozy week on the Denver dining scene: There are birthday, Halloween and Día de los Muertos celebrations, an entire festival dedicated to the fruit of the vine, and dinners celebrating nothing more than great food and even better drinks. Here are our eight favorite events on the culinary calendar from Monday, October 30, through Friday, October 3.
Monday, October 30
The West End Tavern is a legitimate Boulder institution; it's been feeding and watering hordes of students and locals for thirty long years. The tavern is celebrating its longevity on Monday, October 30, with Beaver's Birthday Bash, a tribute to co-founder "Beaver" Goren. Birthday cake, half-price whiskey and build-your-own grilled cheese sandwiches will all be part of the fun, along with the 100th Wing King Challenge during the Broncos vs. Chiefs halftime, when gluttonous mothercluckers will compete to see who can eat fifty wings in thirty minutes. Entry to the wing-eating contest is $25, but the birthday cake is free. Visit thewestendtavern.com for full details.
Tuesday, October 31
Both locations of Kachina Southwestern Grill are celebrating Día de los Muertos on Tuesday, October 31. Along with the complimentary face painting (Westminster location, 10600 Westminster Boulevard, 5 to 7 p.m.) and skull-shaped sugar cookie decorating (Denver, 1890 Wazee Street, 5 to 10 p.m.), the eateries will have traditional altars set up; customers are even encouraged to add their own items to honor their departed loved ones. The altars will be on display during dinner service until Wednesday, November 1, (Westminster) and Thursday, November 2 (Denver).
Boulder's Pizzeria Locale, 1730 Pearl Street, is going urban (Boulder is very urban, and don't you forget it) with Hip Hop Halloween on Tuesday, October 31. A $30 cover at the door will get you a special cocktail in a keepsake cup, swag, small bites and tunes from DJ Bella Scratch from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. There will also be a prize for best costume, so hopefully you stepped up your game this year and are going as something way better than sexy pizza. Find out more at Locale's Facebook page.
Wednesday, November 1
Spuntino, 2639 West 32nd Avenue, is celebrating All Saints' Day with its thirteenth (cue the spooky music) Festa della Stagione wine dinner. The food and fun kick off at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, November 1, with five courses accompanied by impeccable cocktail, wine and amaro pairings. The menu boasts octopus with squid ink potatoes, candied bacon and lemon beurre blanc; duck-liver mousse with duck confit; blood-sausage fettuccine; and a candy-centric dessert course with candy corn panna cotta, among other sweet bites. All this goodness will run you just $75; call 303-433-0949 for reservations.
Wednesday, November 1, is World Vegan Day, and Jill's Restaurant & Bistro, 900 Walnut Street in Boulder, is offering an entirely vegan four-course menu for the animal-eschewing diners among us. There will be truffled eggplant brioche, heirloom pumpkin soup with candied pepitas, baklava and pumpkin pot de crème. Seatings start at 5:30 p.m. and will run you $39.95; call 720-406-7399 for reservations. Can't make dinner? Don't worry — the restaurant serves a vegan lunch buffet every Friday. See the Jill's Restaurant website for details.
Denver's traditionally a beer town, but if you're an oenophile instead of a hophead, you'll be happy that the Denver International Wine Festival is coming to town from Wednesday, November 1, through Friday, November 3. The event includes a Grand Vintners Dinner with wine by Kovács Nimród and food by Radek Cerny; the Pairsine Chefs Fine Food and Wine Pairing Competition, where you'll enjoy twenty bites paired with gold medal-winning wines; and the Grand Tasting, the showcase event with more than eighty wineries and distilleries pouring samples of delicious beverages. Tickets to individual events range from $95 to $175 and are available at denverwinefest.com. Now, that's something to toast to!
Thursday, November 2
Charcoal Bistro is embracing the flavors of fall with its Scotch dinner on Thursday, November 2. Starting at 6 p.m., devotees of the distilled beverage will dine on four courses paired with four whiskeys. Our picks for the most interesting pairings? Bergamot goat-cheese foam with compressed apples and burnt onion powder with The Macallan 12 and a blue-cheese ice cream sandwich with the eye-watering Laphroaig. Try them both out (plus others) for $75. Call the restaurant, 1028 South Gaylord Street, at 303-953-8718 to ensure your table.
Vegan chef Nandini Rossi ran Govinda's at 1400 Cherry Street for years, and now she and her son, Keshava (who is also a chef), are bringing their plant-based fare to Denver diners with Soltribe Cuisine and Govinda's Garden Cafe, a pop-up company catering to those who don't eat meat, eggs or dairy. On Thursday, November 2, at the Pure Colorado Event Center (7110 East Colfax Avenue), they're presenting a six-course Day of the Dead dinner with food, drink and dancing. Tickets for the event, which runs from 6 p.m.to midnight, are available on eventbrite.com; choose from options of $75 (for dinner and alcoholic beverages), $60 (which includes juices and kombucha), or $20 (post-dinner music, mingling and food samples).
Friday, November 3
If you're impatient for Jennifer Jasinki and Beth Gruitch's new Iberian venture, Ultreia, to open in Union Station, you aren't the only one. The two have been slogging through the permitting process for months, but construction is now well under way. And on Friday, November 3, Rioja, 1431 Larimer Street, will host an Ultreia lunch pop-up from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. You'll be able to sample snacks like crispy grilled bread with crushed tomatoes and cheese and salad with egg vinaigrette, pickled shrimp and crispy squid, as well as heartier fare like leg of lamb or a spicy fried chicken sandwich. Ultreia's Facebook page has all the details for the full selection of bites the kitchen will be previewing.
Keep reading for future food and drink events beyond Friday...
Saturday, November 10, through Saturday, November 18
Denver has its Restaurant Week every spring, but Boulder County has its own celebration of restaurants, giving customers a chance to dine for a discount for a full week every fall. Now in its twelfth year, First Bite runs from Saturday, November 10, through Saturday, November 18, offering three-course dinners for just $29 per person at more than forty restaurants in Boulder, Longmont, Erie, Niwot, Lyons, Louisville and Lafayette. Make your reservations now, because dining rooms will fill up quickly at this price. See the First Bite website for a complete list of participating restaurants and menus.
Thursday, November 16
It seems Christmas decorations are on the shelves earlier and earlier (we've even seen some for sale before Halloween this year), but what about the National Western Stock Show? This year you don't have to wait until January to start planning your Stock Show experience. The First Annual Meat and Greet, benefiting Future Farmers of America, will take place at the National Western Complex, 4655 Humboldt Street, on Thursday, November 16, when guests will enjoy twelve courses of Colorado beef, pork, lamb and goat, an open bar, live music and the chance to bid on a behind-the-scenes, one-on-one package with a Stock Show exhibitor. Find tickets ($75) and details at eventbrite.com.
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Saturday, November 25
Saturday, November 25, is almost a month after Halloween, but die-hard fans of dressing up can still scratch that itch at the 100 Men Who Cook's Black Tie Fundraiser, which has a masquerade ball theme this year. The organization's mission is to raise money for grassroots nonprofits, and this year's beneficiaries are Jazz C.A.F.E., a music and leadership program for middle and high school students; Boys' Day, a mentoring program for young African-American boys; and Colorado Beautillion-Cotillion, a multicultural, inclusive academic and social-enrichment program for high school juniors and seniors. The Renaissance Denver Hotel, 3801 Quebec Street, will host the ball, which will include live music, dancing and, of course, food from the aforementioned "Gentlemen Chefs." Tickets range from $50 to $150 and are going fast at eventbrite.com.
Thursday, December 7
It's no secret that Bravo's Top Chef came to Colorado to film its fifteenth season earlier this year. You can finally start planning your watch party, as the show will premiere on Thursday, December 7, at 8 p.m. The contestants traveled from Sports Authority Field to Telluride to Aspen Food + Wine and were tasked with preparing everything from the innocuous Denver omelet to the infamous Rocky Mountain oyster. Tune in to see how they fare — as well as to catch a glimpse of local legends (and a former winner!) Alex Seidel, Hosea Rosenberg, Jennifer Jasinski and Frank Bonanno.