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The Seven Best Events on the Culinary Calendar This Week

The government is taking its pound of flesh this week, but we've got you covered whether you're drowning your sorrows or blowing your refund. From free to fancy events, here are our seven favorites happening from Monday, April 16, through Friday, April 20. While one is sold out, you can still take a chance on a great dining  deal...and keep reading for more dates to put on your culinary calendar so that you don't get shut out again.

Monday, April 16
The bitter truth is that the most popular mixed drinks are little more than sugar water and that carefully created libations that balance booze with sweet, sour and bitter can also have a reputation for pretentiousness. If you'd like to try a proper cocktail in a relaxed setting (without waiting at the door while a snooty host denies you entry because you're waiting for the last straggler in your party to show), try the Bitter Truth Cocktail Competition at Finn's Manor on Monday, April 16. The friendly bar at 2927 Larimer Street will be hosting competitors from Adrift, Departure, Red Square, Oak at Fourteenth and more starting at 7:30 p.m., and you won't even have to meet a cool quota to get in.

click to enlarge You will probably not be this excited to file your taxes on Tuesday. - COURTESY OF KONA ICE
You will probably not be this excited to file your taxes on Tuesday.
Courtesy of Kona Ice
Tuesday, April 17
Tuesday, April 17, is tax day, and while the Man might be taking a bite out of your wallet today, you can get a little something back with free shaved ice around town. Kona Ice trucks will be handing out tropical shaved ice to all comers, whether they're settling up with the state or getting lucky with a refund. Find the goods at the Aurora Municipal Building, Broomfield Chamber of Commerce and Larry H. Miller Nissan (2400 West 104th Avenue) from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Markit Digital (5775 Flatiron Parkway in Boulder) and Community Banks of Colorado (18601 Mainstreet in Parker) from 2 to 4 p.m.; and Arvada Chamber of Commerce from 3 to 5 p.m. That's a cool way to celebrate a very uncool day.

click to enlarge On Wednesday, April 18, Top Chef contestant Brother Luck will  make you feel like family at Comal. - RACHEL FEINBERG
On Wednesday, April 18, Top Chef contestant Brother Luck will make you feel like family at Comal.
Rachel Feinberg
Wednesday, April 18
Denver's no stranger to counterculture (how many rapidly disappearing dives around town claim to have hosted Jack Kerouac?), but on Wednesday, April 18, the term takes on a different meaning at Stoic & Genuine's Counter Culture Dinner 10.0. Guests lucky enough to snag a spot will be seated at the oyster bar, where they can watch chefs create a decadent five-course dinner of toro, scallop with cactus gazpacho and chiles, lobster roll, monkfish steak with morels, and uni brûlée with strawberries for dessert. While the price tag seems high at $120 per person, you'll be getting the best seafood in town, as well as wine pairings for each course. So don't think about it: Just make your reservation by calling 303-640-3474 right now, because while there will be two seatings (5:30 and 8 p.m.), space is extremely limited.

If you're a fan of food television, chances are you've seen Colorado Springs chef Brother Luck on Chopped and, more recently, Top Chef. On Wednesday, April 18, you can enjoy Luck's creations — and inspirations — in person at Comal Heritage Food Incubator, 3455 Ringsby Court, when his mother joins him in the kitchen for the restaurant's monthly Impact Dinner. The Southern-skewing, four-course menu is set to include crabcakes with chayote purée; lobster, shrimp and shellfish consommé; a whole-grain take on Creole cuisine with dirty farro; and sweet soda bread with whiskey ice cream. Tickets, $75, can be purchased at With Luck, a great meal is in the cards.

Lola Coastal Mexican will host the eleventh Dos Casas culinary adventure benefiting Brent's Place, a home away from home for young cancer patents and their families, on April 18. Once again, chef Jamey Fader will open the doors of his home kitchen at Lola to ten of Denver's finest chefs, who'll cook up a five-course meal. Although the event is sold out, you can still participate by purchasing a raffle ticket for a suggested donation of $20; you'll be entered in a contest for a chance to win twelve gift cards from ten Denver restaurants, totaling $1,200. For more information, go to

click to enlarge One lucky couple will nab the table looking into Julep's kitchen for its Knob Creek Bourbon Dinner. - DANIELLE LIRETTE
One lucky couple will nab the table looking into Julep's kitchen for its Knob Creek Bourbon Dinner.
Danielle Lirette
Thursday, April 19
The American South is known for many things, though based on the proliferation of Southern restaurants in town in just the past year, you'd be forgiven for thinking it's all sweet tea and hush puppies. The newest Southern kid on the block, Julep, gives a more expansive view of the cuisine, however. The restaurant is hosting its inaugural Bourbon Dinner on Thursday, April 19. Starting at 7 p.m., the restaurant at 3258 Larimer Street will ply you with bourbon cocktails and appetizers; a three-course dinner of sourdough bread with buttermilk ricotta, pork-jowl pastrami and cornmeal crepes; neat pours of Knob Creek Bourbon; and, yes, more cocktails. Call 303-295-8977 for your reservation ($65), and visit Julep's Facebook page for complete details.

Friday, April 20
One of the great dining misconceptions of our day is that D Bar Denver, 494 East 19th Avenue, only serves desserts. Yes, co-owner Keegan Gerhard is known primarily as a television pastry chef. And, yes, the restaurant's four-course Guittard Chocolate Wine Dinner on Friday, April 20, sounds like an over-the-top sugar high — but don't be misled. The kitchen knows how to seamlessly incorporate cocoa beans into its excellent savory dishes without turning each bite into a cloyingly sweet, one-note dessert. Think shaved vegetable salad with parmesan and a cocoa nib cracker; diver scallops served with celeriac, lemon, pink pepper and white chocolate; and a modern take on pot roast of braised short rib with Swiss chard, carrots and chocolate. The family-style dinner starts at 6:30 p.m. and will run you $75; visit D Bar's website for the complete menu, then call 303-861-4710 to reserve your seat.

Keep reading for future food and drink events.