This week's food and drink agenda is especially meaty, with a deli brunch, barbecue, bone-marrow doughnuts and pork belly taking center stage. Keep reading for the six best food and drink happenings from Monday, January 6, through Friday, January 10, plus more in the days ahead.
Monday, January 6
The sunny corner spot that previously housed Masterpiece Delicatessen on Central Street is no more, but you can celebrate the sandwich shop's reopening bright and early on Monday, January 6, at the inaugural industry brunch at Masterpiece's new digs, inside Old Major at 3316 Tejon Street. From 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., folks who were stuck ferrying Bloody Marys and breakfast burgers to belligerent brunchers can get waited on by jovial restaurateur Justin Brunson, who will be manning the bar with $15 bottomless mimosas and $5 Hamm's with a whiskey back; a DJ will also be on hand providing tunes and proper brunch atmosphere. The event will be a weekly occurrence, but there's no better way to start the first full week of 2020 than with the rebirth of a LoHi institution.
Tuesday, January 7
We have to give it to Stem Ciders: Not only has the cider house been turning out delicious drinks for six years now, but it's just as dedicated to the art of the pairing. Stem's downtown taproom at 2811 Walnut Street has hosted a plethora of pairings over the years, generally focusing on sweets (cupcakes, shortbread, cookies, pie, ice cream and Pop-Tarts have all made appearances), but occasionally venturing into the savory by serving its sparkling beverages with cheese, oysters, Mongolian food and charcuterie. And on Tuesday, January 7, the taproom is going whole hog with a pork belly and cider pairing; for $20, you'll get four tastes (including bacon jalapeño poppers and sliders with blueberry barbecue sauce and papaya slaw) with four ciders. The tasting runs from 5 to 8 p.m., and tickets are currently on sale on Eventbrite, where you can also find the full menu.
Wednesday, January 8
While it's been decades since Denver could legitimately be called a cowtown, it's still a little big city — so the restaurant scene (while growing rapidly) remains significantly more intimate than in other American cities (transplants, here's your chance to chime in — we know you just can't help yourselves). So when it comes to homegrown kitchen talent, it's not surprising that a handful of Denver stalwarts have nurtured a significant number of Denver chefs and restaurateurs. Starting on Wednesday, January 8, one of those incubators, Rioja (1431 Larimer Street) is kicking off a quartet of alumni dinners with prodigal daughters and sons returning to the Larimer Square roost. Carrie Baird (Top Chef, Bar Dough) joins forces with chef Jen Jasinski to re-create her favorite menu items from her time at the Spanish restaurant, including dishes she developed. The throwback feast begins at 6:30 p.m. and costs $95 (exclusive of wine pairings) or $135 (inclusive); the remaining meals in the series welcome back Dana Rodriguez (Work & Class, Super Mega Bien), Merlin Verrier (Street Feud) and Jorel Pierce (TAG Restaurant Group). Reserve your seat and get details on future dinners on Rioja's website.
January is always dry in Colorado, so lotion up. But if you're looking to cut out booze for the next few weeks, Bar Helix, at 3440 Larimer Street, is launching Mocktail Month with a nightly happy hour and a series of three classes on how to make alcohol-free drinks that taste like more than just Ocean Spray and seltzer. The first class runs from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, January, 8. Register on Nightout.com and pay $25, which will get you three mocktails, samples of herbal CBD infusions, class materials, snacks and swag. It may have been all champagne and caviar during the holiday season, but now it's time for a different kind of sophistication. (You can still load up on the fish eggs, though.)
Thursday, January 9
Okay, we retract our above statement about the Mile High City not being a cowtown — at least for two weeks in January, when the National Western Stock Show returns. And on Thursday, January 9, the annual Stock Show
Parade and barbecue kick off the celebration of Western ranching culture that's been taking place in Denver for over a century. At noon, a herd of longhorn cattle, cowboys and covered wagons (led by furniture salesman and wild animal wrangler Jake Jabs, who longtime residents will swear has also appeared in TV commercials for over 100 years) will step off from Union Station and begin a drive straight down 17th Street. Afterward, spectators can chow down on the aforementioned bovines' brethren at 1700 Broadway, with a barbecue ($12), live music and a city proclamation declaring the day Dress Western Day. Visit the Stock Show's website for details on the kickoff and for the entire show schedule.
Friday, January 10
Embrace whimsy during the dark days of January at the Inventing Room, the over-the-top dessert shop at 4433 West 29th Avenue. While chef/owner Ian Kleinman's outfit generally shutters its doors in the winter months, this year it's giving us all a belated Christmas present by expanding its beloved molecular doughnut pop-up; every Friday, Saturday and Sunday through the end of winter, Kleinman and company will oversee the exploding whipped cream machine, liquid nitrogen ice cream station and magic chocolate maker from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Reservations aren't accepted for this casual affair (though you can pre-order a minimum of twelve doughnuts); just show up with an open mind and an empty stomach. And with more time than ever to enjoy the wild creations, you don't have to choose just one: Show up every week until you've worked your way through the entire menu, which can be found on the shop's Facebook page.
And mark your calendar for these future events....
Saturday, January 11
So your New Year's resolution was to eat more oatmeal — how fortuitous that on Saturday, January 11, the City of Lafayette is holding its 24th annual oatmeal festival. That's right: In the realm of quirky agricultural festivals around Colorado, this one celebrates neither peaches nor Pueblo chiles, but porridge. A massive breakfast of 200 gallons of oatmeal with 100 different toppings, 4,000 oatmeal pancakes and 1,200 oatmeal muffins will be served from 7:30 a.m. to noon, At 9:30 a.m., you can take to the streets in a 5K run (and walk, if you're not looking to exceed the speed of an ocean of oatmeal oozing down the course). Breakfast runs $8, or $20 with race registration; find out more on the Lafayette Chamber of Commerce website.
Thursday, January 16
Japan's Niigata prefecture — one of the top sake producing regions in the country — is known for its high-quality beverages, and on Thursday, January 16, you can taste some of the brews that rarely make it out of the Land of the Rising Sun at Uchi. The spot at 2500 Lawrence Street is hosting a sake dinner at 6:30 p.m., with four inventive courses (lamb belly with matcha salsa, hirame crudo and cherry blossoms, duck confit with persimmon kimchi and shortrib accompanied by miso and cherry mostarda) served alongside sake pairings. Tickets for the luxe dinner, $115, include tax and tip and are for sale now on Eventbrite, where you can also find info on the sakes, some of which are being shipped to from Japan especially for the feast.
Saturday, January 18
Denver Beer Co. knows how to lure your sorry ass out of bed bright and early on a weekend morning: Its annual two-day Beer, Bacon and Coffee Fest at the taproom's Arvada outpost (5768 Olde Wadsworth Boulevard) sells out every year. Starting at the unholy hour of 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, January 18, and Sunday, January 19, the fest features all the salty, porky, bitter, black, boozy goodness that you can fit in your belly until 11 a.m. So whether you're hitting the taproom after a restful night's sleep or just wrapped up a graveyard shift, this fest is sure to start the day off right. Tickets are $45 on the brewery's website and include a breakfast burrito (veggie option available), bottomless brews (coffee and beer) and bacon and a commemorative mug (because everyone knows you're not really an alcoholic if you're drinking beer out of a coffee cup before 9 a.m.).
Sunday, January 19
Now that the holidays are behind us and your mind is unclouded by merriment, cheer or the desire to chug as many drinks as quickly as possible to mitigate the awkwardness of family gatherings and work parties, you'll recall you drank some very regrettable champagne during December (or maybe you don't remember, but trust us — you did). Bubbly may be celebratory, but that doesn't mean it's all good. Luckily, you can start honing your champagne-tasting skills now so you know what to serve, order and avoid like the plague in eleven months' time. Hotel Teatro, 1100 14th Street, is hosting a tasting class on Sunday, January 19, from 2 to 3:30 p.m., with a pair of the Nickel's sommeliers guiding you through tastings of capital "C" champagne and other sparkling wines and giving advice on pairings. Tickets, $45 on Eventbrite, include a charcuterie plate with nuts and fruit, and invaluable knowledge that will help you avoid a bad bubbly hangover the next time someone decides to pop a cork.
Nonprofit art gallery Leon, 1112 East 17th Avenue, is combining the visual and the culinary arts on Sunday, January 19, with the launch of its Fine Mess Supper Club. From 5 to 8 p.m., an intimate group of just twenty lucky souls will be treated to a five-course meal from chefs Luke McDonald (Coohills) and Anthony Urbany (Devil's Food) in the gallery, where the current exhibition Beasts of Burden by street artist bunny M. will be the conversational catalyst. Tickets, $85, include tax and tip; visit Leon's Facebook page for details and info on future installments of the monthly series, then email email@example.com or call 303-832-1599 to claim your spot.
Friday, January 24
Take afternoon tea with royalty on Friday, January 24. No, we don't mean the Duchess of Sussex; we don't even mean American royalty (as if the Kennedys would even deign to leave the East Coast). We mean Denver royalty — the kind with hooves, horns and a fluffy blow-dried coat. For the 75th year, the National Western Stock Show's Grand Champion steer is visiting the Brown Palace Hotel, 321 17th Street, to take tea with Denver's finest. The biggest boy in town will be in the Brown's lobby from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., where he'll be surrounded by adoring fans, paparazzi and the best-dressed cowpokes around. While anyone can stop by the hotel for a glimpse of the guest of honor, if you want to enjoy tea (which starts at $41 per person), we recommend you make reservations on the Brown Palace website.
Sunday, January 26
A good argument could be made for January being the worst month of the year: While the days are technically lengthening, we still spend many of our waking hours in frigid darkness, holiday cheer has curdled like that carton of eggnog forgotten in the back of your refrigerator and — most incomprehensibly of all — some of you have decided to compound the horror by vowing to not have a drink until February 1. At least the rest of us will have some solace on Sunday, January 26, when Ratio Beerworks, 2920 Larimer Street, teams up with Osaka Ramen for a beer and ramen pairing from noon to 2 p.m. For just $25, you'll get three steamy, soulful bowls (spicy miso, shoyu and vegetable curry) accompanied by dark lager, French saison and IPA. Tickets for the exclusive event (just thirty seats) are on sale now on Eventbrite.
Sunday, February 9
Accio pint glass! On Sunday, February 9, all you have to do is swish your wand about to summon good times and cheer at the generically named Wizard's Beer Festival (the wizarding world has become significantly more litigious, it seems). Diebolt Brewing Co., 3855 Mariposa Street, is the site of the shenanigans, with four two-hour sessions throughout the day, beginning at 11 a.m. and 1:30, 4 and 6:30 p.m. There will be tarot card readers, DJs and wand-making classes; your $45 ticket will get you a welcome beer and tickets for five further potions. Just remember: You can't evanesco your hangover the next day. Pick up your tickets at Eventbrite before those sneaky Slytherins find a way to steal them all.
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Saturday, February 15
The folks that brought you November's mac and cheese festival are doubling down on dairy with a grilled cheese and beer festival on Saturday, February 15. Yes, after stuffing yourself on ooey, gooey, creamy mac, you can now get your cheese and carb combo in the form of crispy, crunchy sandwiches washed down by craft beer. Show up for unlimited bites from Blake Street Tavern, Maine Shack and Cheese Love Grill, among others; bottomless brews are courtesy of Horse and Dragon, Mockery, Spice Trade and Zuni Street. Tickets are currently on sale on Eventbrite or Facebook for $54 or $89 (the Big Cheese option gets you early entry and full-sized beers instead of samples), though prices are set to increase as the event approaches. Choose from the afternoon (12:30 to 3:30 p.m.) or evening (5 to 8 p.m.) session at the Runway 35 Park, 8863 East 47th Avenue.
Thursday, March 12
A wealth of Denver's A-list restaurants are uniting under one roof on Thursday, March 12, to raise money for the National Kidney Foundation at its annual feast, Great Chefs of the West. Starting at 6 p.m., Exdo Event Center, 1399 35th Street, plays host to talent from Death & Co., Mercantile, the Bindery, American Elm, El Five, Woodie Fisher and over fifteen other restaurants and bars serving their most extravagant bites and beverages. And while tickets aren't cheap ($200, though you can save $20 by purchasing before January 6), you'd spend that much on Lyft rides alone trying to navigate from one end of town to another to hit up each and every eatery. Find out more about the event on the NKF website.
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