Denver Restaurant Week starts on February 21, but you don't need to wait to explore Colorado's liquid assets; the next few days are filled with activities for those who crave wine, cocktails, beer or boba. Keep reading for the nine best food and drink events around town over the next five day, then plan ahead for more fun through mid-March.
Monday, February 17
America's political climate is currently so contentious that even celebrating Presidents' Day seems fraught. So what's a patriotic chicken joint to do when the holiday comes around? The Post Brewing Co. has the solution: Look back over a century in our country's history to pay homage to a man so long dead that he can't inspire the violent emotions of more recent heads of state. Hence, all Post locations are running Teddy Roosevelt Week from Monday, February 17, through Sunday, February 23 (with the exception of the Rosedale outpost on South Broadway, which is celebrating through Friday, February 21). Honor the square dealing, rough riding, pince nez-wearing conservationist, trustbuster, Nobel Peace Prize winner and, oh, yeah, Republican, with food and drink specials. Enjoy a mint julep (Roosevelt's favorite drink) or a pair of cocktails made with Yellowstone Whiskey (a nod to the man's impact on the National Park Service — he doubled the number of national parks during his presidency). Also on the menu are Badlands boar chili, a Rough Rider elk brat and presidential bison short rib. And if you bring in the dusty, sepia, overpriced Old West photo you and your posse dressed up for that one time — framed and ready to hang — you'll be rewarded with a day pass to Rocky Mountain National Park (better use it before all the national parks are gone). Visit the Post's website for details.
Drink pink on Monday, February 17. No, we don't mean pink wine (we have at least eight weeks before the onslaught of "Rosé is the hot new drink this spring!" headlines). Instead, the date marks the return of Speed Rack, the frantic, all-female speed-bartending contest that raises money for breast cancer research. Cervantes' Masterpiece Ballroom, 2637 Welton Street, hosts two dozen Denver mixologists to see who can craft the tastiest drink in the least amount of time under pressure. The judging panel includes chef/restaurateur Caroline Glover (Annette), sommelier/bar owner Kendra Anderson (Bar Helix), wine director/great hair-haver Mary Allison Wright (Morin), and Jason Patz (bartender at Williams and Graham). Get your tickets, $25, on the venue's website; they include samples of boozy punches and bites, and all proceeds will be donated to nonprofit organizations the Pink Agenda and Bright Pink. That's a better deal than rosé any day of the week.
Tuesday, February 18
The bright-white open kitchen at The Bindery, 1817 Central Street, always turns out such beautifully balanced food, we don't even have to know what they're serving on any given night to wholeheartedly recommend a meal there. So there's no better way to spend Tuesday, February 18, than in the dining room awaiting the next plate of the eatery's five-course wine dinner. Starting at 7 p.m., vintner Christoph Künzli, who owns winery Le Piane in Italy's renowned winemaking region of Piedmont, will uncork five of his creations. Menu details aren't yet available, but you can make reservations for the $150 feast by calling the restaurant at 303-993-2364 or emailing email@example.com. See the Bindery's Facebook page for more info, including the vintages you can expect to taste.
Wednesday, February 19
Despite the now national reach of Denver-born Snooze, locals are still fiercely loyal to to the breakfast joint, its elaborate flapjacks and pre-lunch cocktails; crowds outside the door are a given, even on weekdays. So this year, the chain is extending its annual Pancake Day celebration (which raises funds for community gardens through sales of a special stack) from a single day to an entire week. From Wednesday, February 19, through Tuesday, February 25, you can stop in any day — or every day — and indulge in the day's flavor. Offerings are both sweet and savory (try the King Cake topped with lemon anglaise, blueberry mascarpone and festive Mardi Gras-colored raw sugar, or the Local Garden Cake made with zucchini and carrots and served with sambal), and 100 percent of sales from the daily special will go to nearby gardens. To see which organization your local Snooze is supporting and the week's entire slate of flavors, visit the Facebook page of each individual Snooze outpost.
Thursday, February 20
We've all been suckered into it: Tossing that big plastic tub of greens into your shopping cart at the grocery store, only to load it into the fridge when you get home and promptly forget about it for a week — when the leaves are limp at best and slimy at worst. Households are by far the biggest source of Denver's food waste (contributing 41 percent of it), but restaurants aren't immune, either. On Thursday, February 20, the vendors at Broadway Market, 950 Broadway, are teaming up with Slow Food Nations and the City of Denver to reduce the amount of food they throw away by creating a tasting menu out of commonly discarded kitchen scraps. Show up promptly at 5 p.m. (the first fifty guests get four dishes); at 5:30 p.m., chefs will talk about the food, let you know how to re-create their bites at home and discuss the Market's steps toward food waste reduction. Details about the free event are available on Broadway Market's Facebook page.
It's a rare day when you can go to the Children's Museum of Denver, 2121 Children's Museum Drive, without having to protect your ears from the unbridled shrieks of children's joy (indistinguishable from all their other screams) and your shins from tiny bodies careening into them. So mark your calendars for Thursday, February 20, when the museum is only letting kids over the age of 21 through the doors for its annual Ales, Apps & Barrels of Fun bash. From 7 to 10 p.m., you can wander the halls with beer in one hand and bites in the other; your fellow museum-goers will know how to share (we hope!) and you'll actually get the chance to interact with the exhibits for a change. Let's just hope everything's been disinfected thoroughly — but if it hasn't, maybe the booze (from local outfits like Little Machine, Briar Common, Epic and Comrade) Tickets, $40, are available along with a full list of participating breweries on the Museum's website.
Friday, February 21
An offshoot of the Slow Food movement, the first Slow Wine Guide was published in 2010 and covered only Italian wines; a decade later, it's expanded into California and Oregon. And on Friday, February 21, the Slow Wine Tour lands in Denver. The free tasting is open only to industry folks (business cards and work credentials are required for entry), highlights products from nearly 65 vineyards, and takes place at Asterisk, 1075 Park Avenue West, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Visit the Slow Wine website for more details and a list of producers that will be in attendance, then hit up Eventbrite to RSVP.
Feisty old women are a delight to watch, and — provided their razor-sharp tongues aren't aimed at you — a hoot to hang with. Grandma, the titular, chain-smoking character in the film Lucky Grandma, is no exception, even when she unwittingly finds herself in the middle of a gang war after an ill-advised stint at the casino. Join her for a night of boba and beer on Friday, February 21 at the Sie FilmCenter, 2510 East Colfax Avenue, where she'll light up the silver screen at 7 p.m. But starting at 6 p.m., Tea Street and Cerebral Brewing will pop up in the theater's lobby so you can raise a glass to women who live by their own rules and don't take shit from anyone, even Chinatown gang bosses. The happy hour is free to attend; find info about the movie on Denver Film's Facebook page. Film tickets are $15 on the Sie website.
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. Visit the event website, where you'll find scrumptious pics of some of last year's most delectable dishes, as well as over 200 participating restaurants and their 2020 menus (some of our favorites include AJ's Pit Bar-B-Q, Il Posto, the Nickel and Denver Milk Market). And while you may not have any luck trying to snag an online reservation at this late date, don't be shy about giving the eateries on your list a call to check for any last-minute cancellations.
Keep reading for future food happenings....
Saturday, February 22
Of all Denver's city regulations, the cutest and cuddliest is section 11.8.5 of the Denver Zoning Code, under which residents are allowed a maximum of two rabbits, 25 pigeons, eight chickens (or ducks!), two dwarf goats and an unlimited number of fish on their property. Sadly, we haven't come across any urban goat husbandry classes — but on Saturday, February 22, the Four Seasons Farmers & Artisans Market, 7043 West 38th Avenue in Wheat Ridge, will help you get started in poultry with a backyard chicken-keeping class from 10 a.m. to noon. For just $5, you'll learn how to house, feed and water your feathered friends and get the basics on how to keep the little cluckers healthy. Sign up on Eventbrite.
Tuesday, February 25
Three cheers for restaurateur Troy Guard, whose calendrical skills rival his kitchen chops. The man is hosting a Fat Tuesday event on the day itself: Tuesday, February 25, not the weekend before or (abomination of all abominations) the weekend after, when Lent is already in full swing. From 6 to 8:30 p.m., Commissary (the former Mister Tuna at 3033 Brighton Boulevard), hosts the bacchanal with bites, beverages and a brass band. Guard is bringing in reinforcements in the form of Louisiana boy and Houston chef Drake Leonards of Eunice, and the evening's menu boasts instant classics like shrimp po' boy sliders, crawfish hand pies and Cajun duck poppers. Entry ($45 or $65 on Night Out) includes a drink, unlimited apps and a chef demo for VIP ticket holders.
East meets West on Tuesday, February 25, when sushi powerhouse Uchi, 2500 Lawrence Street, hosts the second in its series of brewery dinners. This time, the partnership is with the homegrown Post Brewing Co., and staple brews Howdy (a Western — whatever that means — pilsner), Top Rope (a Mexican-style lager) and Townie (English IPA) paired with dishes like fried fish with vinegar aioli, ceviche and duck confit. The 6:30 p.m. dinner will run you $115 (includes tax and tip), with tickets for sale on Eventbrite. Can't make it this month? Future installments include dinners with brews from 10 Barrel Brewing Co. on March 31 and Crooked Stave on April 28; keep up to date on the restaurant's Facebook page.
Wednesday, February 26
Regular readers already know of our affinity for pies: sweet, savory, elegant, rustic, handheld, served by the slice — all are the way to our heart and guaranteed to put us in a blissful, pie-induced trance. But we have nothing on Boulder pie expert John Lehndorff, who has served as organizer of the Great American Pie Festival and head judge of the National Pie Championships (be right back; we're taking a break to seethe with jealousy). On Wednesday, February 26, the man, the myth, the pie legend will be giving a lecture at Niwot's Left Hand Grange, 195 Second Avenue, on the history of pies in Boulder County. Attendees will get "pie-related" refreshments (hmmmm) starting at 6:30 p.m., followed by a talk that spans the genesis of National Pie Day, pie-adjacent artifacts, tips and tricks to judging a slice, and a Q&A on how to turn out your own flaky, tasty masterpiece, all for just $5 at the door. Details are up on Lehndorff's Facebook page, and you can see more of his writing — including a list of Denver's top hand pies — on his website.
Thursday, March 5
The annual kickoff to the 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 Chris Royster (Flagstaff House). 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 at $200, 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.
Friday, March 13
The touring whiskey tasting festival Whisky Extravaganza has become Whiskies of the World in 2020, but otherwise much remains the same about the high-end event that's landing in Denver on Friday, March 13. The dress code, for instance, still encourages female guests to don "blouses and slacks" — so, whiskey-loving women, better raid your mom's wardrobe in search of clothing that no one in Colorado has worn since 1983 (if you can find a vintage pink power suit with padded shoulders and a peplum jacket, all the better). But provided your vestments pass muster at the door, you'll be treated to the same expansive tasting, with more than 200 brands, light appetizers and the chance to register for tasting classes. The event runs from 7 to 9:30 p.m. at the Four Seasons, 1114 14th Street, and tickets ($100 or $150) are on sale now at Whiskies of the World's website.
Thursday, March 19
City Park's SAME Cafe, 2023 East Colfax Avenue, is celebrating fourteen years in business this year; it's a major accomplishment for any restaurant, made even more impressive because the cozy lunch spot is a nonprofit, donation-based eatery that has never put a price on its menu. Diners pay what they can, either in greenbacks or volunteer hours, and regardless of financial status, everyone enjoys healthy food while being treated with dignity. And in keeping with its mission, the enterprise's annual fundraiser on Thursday, March 19, the So All May Eat Gala, is an egalitarian affair: Attire is "Colorado dressy," which means anything from cargo pants to custom gowns, and while tickets cost $75 (which includes small plates from SAME chefs and students in the cafe's Cook to Work culinary education program; desserts from local sweet shops, including the Inventing Room; a silent auction; and spirits from Laws Whiskey House), there are also pay-what-you-can and volunteer options. The fun runs from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Space Gallery Annex, 95 South Cherokee Street; find all the details on SAME's website.
If you know of a date that should be on this calendar, send information to firstname.lastname@example.org.