Events at a handful of Denver institutions (CoraFaye's, Brown Palace, VFW Post No. 1) are on the menu this week, as are gluten-free and vegan dinners, a celebration of immigrant cuisine and a whodunit with a meal as well as a mystery. Pull up a seat and dig in to the best food and drink happenings over the next five days, with more to plan for through the month of March.
Monday, January 20
The folks at soul-food stalwart CoraFaye's, 16251 East Colfax Avenue in Aurora, usually take a well-deserved day of rest on the first day of the work week, but this Monday, January 20, the eatery is opening its doors in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. From 11:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., some of MLK's favorite dishes will be served, among them fried chicken, corn bread, collard greens and the King of Pies, pecan. It's the perfect opportunity for Denverites to honor Dr. King's work by supporting a black-owned business as well as get some great grub for just $15 per plate; visit CoraFaye's Facebook page for more info.
Tuesday, January 21
The tiny kitchen at Fruition, 1313 East Sixth Avenue, has never limited the creativity or quality of the dishes emerging from it, and on Tuesday, January 21, the restaurant's chef, Jon Lavelle, is teaming up with Stem Ciders' chef, Eric Lee, for a three-course pairing menu that showcases the best of both local producers. At 6:30 p.m., guests will be treated to passed apps (including lamb tartare and brandade fritters) before sitting down to plates of Carolina gold fried rice with crispy shallots and Stem's farmhouse brew; duck roulade, preserved blueberries, duck liver and crème fraîche with Cascara cider; and peach crisp with sheepskyr gelato and hopped cider. The entire menu and all drink pairings are gluten-free; make your reservation on Resy or by calling Fruition at 303-831-1962.
Wednesday, January 22
Turns out diversity tastes great, too. On Wednesday, January 22, the Village Exchange Center (VEC), a local organization dedicated to creating a safe space of belonging while celebrating religious and cultural diversity, is hosting an international bazaar-themed benefit in celebration of the nonprofit’s third anniversary. The event takes place from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Stanley Marketplace (2501 Dallas Street, Aurora) and costs $81 per person if you purchase tickets by January 15, or $100 between January 15 and 22. Food vendors include Jasmine Syrian Food, Taste of Sudan, Nepali Mountain Kitchen and others, and there will also be crafts for sale, live music and special guests, including Congressman Jason Crow and Reverend Dr. Timothy E. Tyler. Purchase tickets on the VEC website.
If you sat through Knives Out rolling your eyes not only at Daniel Craig's delightfully overripe Southern(?) accent, but at the ineptitude of Lakeith Stanfield's police work and the idiocy of the assorted Thrombey clan, here's your chance to do better: On Wednesday, January 22, the Post Brewing Co., 105 West Emma Street in Lafayette, is putting on its own Wild West Mystery Dinner, complete with beer, bites and bloodshed. At 6 p.m., the sleuthing kicks off with the first of three courses and its beer pairing; as you drink and dine your way through the evening, live theatrical performances depict the dastardly deed, and you'll work in teams to determine the culprit. Details are available on the Post's website; purchase tickets ($75, including tax and tip) on Tock.
Thursday, January 23
Vegans and those hardy few whose January resolutions aren't a distant sight in the rear-view mirror will want to reserve a spot at Que Bueno Suerte, 1518 South Pearl Street, on Thursday, January 23, for its New Year's Cleanse dinner at 6:30 p.m. The four-course vegan menu includes non-alcoholic drink pairings; you won't miss the protein in dishes like chilpachole (a Veracruzano stew usually made with fish, but here with jackfruit, chayote, tomatoes and chiles); tamales in roasted tomatillo salsa; chiles rellenos stuffed with plantains, black beans, cheese and guajillo sauce; and cactus macaroons. Book your seat for the $35 meal on Eventbrite, where you'll be required to pay a deposit of $10; the balance of the price is due at dinner itself.
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 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 the royal treatment, spring for VIP tickets ($99 on Eventbrite), which include lunch, an open bar and first crack at pro photos with the bovine baron.
Now that late January has arrived, the same weather that seemed festive just thirty days ago now seems bleak and interminable. Luckily, the same spirit that kept you warm and cozy last month can help you through the dark, chilly nights of January. Not the Christmas spirit; the spirit called whiskey. On Friday, January 24, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post No. 1 — the first VFW post in the nation — is hosting a whiskey tasting and fundraiser at 7 p.m.; Whiskey Ambassador Ryan Negley will walk guests through the flavor profiles of a group of exclusive beverages and pairings of light bites, after which you'll get a guided tour of the historic building (at 841 Santa Fe Drive), including cocktails in the veterans' art gallery. All of the proceeds from ticket sales ($80 at brownpapertickets.com) go directly to VFW Post No. 1 and its programs.
Keep reading for future culinary events to put on your calendar....
Sunday, January 26
Regular readers will know we're skeptical when a right- or left-coast chef sweeps into the Mile High City boasting about bringing the next hot concept to the Wild West — but when that chef is bringing twelve courses of wagyu beef to dinner, we're a little more welcoming. On Sunday, January 26, San Diego chef Steve Brown is bringing his Cosecha SD supper club to Denver's Daughter Thai Kitchen and Bar, 1700 Platte Street, where he'll prepare the delicately marbled Japanese meat with ingredients local to Colorado. (While the final menu isn't yet available, you can find past menus on Cosecha's website that include bites like jerky, wagyu tongue and fermented tomatoes, cornbread with miso-wagyu butter, and even wagyu brownies for dessert.) Reserve your spot on the website; while the pop-up is pricey at $225, it includes beef from a number of Japanese prefectures — including cattle raised on olives and sake mash — as well as wine pairings.
Thursday, January 30
In Colorado, the idea of a "pot-to-table" dinner conjures images of something that's most certainly not a cooking vessel (even if you can get baked with it). And while there are plenty of pairing meals for diners who'd rather smoke than sip in the Mile High City, White Pie's pot-to-table polenta feast on Thursday, January 30, is definitely not of that ilk. Instead, creamy, cheesy polenta will be poured directly from its pot onto one of the restaurant's marble community tables, where it will be topped with goodies like bone marrow, meatballs and roasted veggies and accompanied by a handful of sauces, including pesto, romesco and olive oil. The $45 price tag also includes a small starter, dessert and a glass of house wine; the messy, mouthwatering fun starts at 7 p.m. at the pizza place at 1702 Humboldt Street. Ensure you don't miss out — there are just twenty seats available — by snapping up your ticket on Eventbrite or Facebook.
Saturday, February 1
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 that 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 Saturday, February 1, 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. NOTE: This event was previously scheduled for Sunday, January 19.
Saturday, February 8
Rats aren't all bad — especially if they're talented and adorable (Remy from Ratatouille), meme-able (Pizza Rat) or the first animal of the zodiac, bringing rebirth and renewal (Lunar New Year). And on Saturday, February 8, you can celebrate the Year of the Rat (which admittedly begins a couple of weeks earlier, on January 25) at the Chinese New Year party put on by the Nathan Yip Foundation. From 5:30 to 11 p.m., ballrooms at the Grand Hyatt Denver, 1750 Welton Street, will be transformed into an expansive night market, with food stations, games, palm readers, calligraphers and traditional clothing; this year, there will also be a formal Chinese banquet where guests can enjoy traditions such as yu sheng, a salad composed of auspicious ingredients that are mixed at the table by diners to ensure a prosperous new year. Tickets ($250, or $150 for young professionals under 36), along with details and colorful pictures of the event, are available now on the foundation's website.
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.
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 Runway 35 Park, 8863 East 47th Avenue.
Friday, February 21, through Sunday, March 1
For ten days in late February, Denver eateries are going to be crammed with diners seeking great deals. Yes, Denver Restaurant Week returns on Friday, February 21, and runs through Sunday, March 1; both longstanding institutions and trendy hot spots will be serving multi-course prix fixe menus offered at just $25, $35 or $45. And while participating restaurants haven't yet been announced, a visit to the event website provides scrumptious pics of some of 2019's most delectable dishes, past players and the opportunity to sign up for email alerts so you'll be among the first to know when menus are posted online. Then begins the race for reservations, wherein it's you vs. the rest of Denver scrambling to book the best tables in town. Feeling bold? Make your best guesses as to which joints will be joining the fun and start booking your dinners right now.
Thursday, March 5
The annual kickoff to he Boulder International Film Festival, CineChef, returns on Thursday, March 5, with a literal battle of the sexes (there are knives involved, after all). It's the men versus the women as the chefs go head to head at Boulder's Rembrandt Yard, 1301 Spruce Street; each team will turn out film-inspired fare with guests voting on the most scrumptious cinematic bites. Participating chefs include Linda Hampsten Fox (the Bindery), Becca Henry (ChoLon) and John Platt (Riffs Urban Fare). Further details and tickets for the 5:30 p.m. event ($100 or $145) are up now on the festival's website.
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, will play 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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