This Friday, April 23, marks the beginning of both Denver Restaurant Week and Dining Out for Life — but there's plenty more on the menu, too, including a crawfish boil, sake and whiskey dinners and munchies galore.
Here are our picks for the best food and drink events this week; keep reading for future festivities to put on your culinary calendar.
Tuesday, April 20
Union Station's Stoic & Genuine, at 1701 Wynkoop Street, will be less dispassionate and more authentic than ever on Tuesday, April 20, when it excitedly throws a mess of fresh crawfish into the cooker and serves them up with all the traditional sides — andouille sausage, potatoes, corn and housemade biscuits — for a proper boil starting at 3 p.m. The bar will also be mixing up Cajun cocktails (we foresee at least one beverage that includes a shake or two of Tabasco). Reserve your spot either on the patio or in the dining room ($65) on Tock.
Denver's 4/20 rally has gone up in smoke for the second year running, but you can still get munchies at Steuben's, 523 East 17th Avenue. The joint has been doing brisk business satisfying comfort food-craving diners during the pandemic, but it's upping the ante with even more stoner-friendly, not-moving-from-my-couch snackables on Tuesday, April 20. Steubie Snacks (braised and deep-fried pork belly dusted in powdered sugar), the PB&J Monte Cristo sandwich, cookie dough doughnuts and Everything But the Kitchen Sink Brownies (with caramel, pretzels, potato chips and and peanuts) will all make a one-day-only appearance for the price of $4.20. Beverage specials include flavored lemon- and limeades (available with a $2 CBD bitters add-on) and over-the top milkshakes that are so jam-packed with sweets and snacks they appear to have been conceived of by a hyperactive eight-year-old. Find more info on the Steuben's Uptown Instagram page.
Wednesday, April 21
Rioja, at 1431 Larimer Street, is hosting its third wine dinner of the year at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 21. But instead of new- or old-world wines, the restaurant will be pouring sake with the five-course meal. And rather than pair the Japanese spirit with Asian flavors, Rioja will be serving staunchly Mediterranean cuisine for a match-up that will highlight the versatility of the beverage. The menu includes risotto with almonds and oozy Ovelha cheese, chicken-fried quail with black truffles, and coffee-rubbed ribs, paired with evocatively named sakes like Seaside Sparkling, Bride of the Fox and Rhythm of the Centuries. Visit Tock to reserve your seat for in-house dining ($99) or takeout ($70 plus the cost of sake, which ranges from $40 to $48 per bottle).
Thursday, April 22
How can you pass up a whiskey dinner that lists "really good cheese" as the fourth course? You can't; it would be positively un-American. So visit Tock and reserve your seat at West End Tavern's 1792 Spring Fling Whiskey Dinner. The Boulder bar, at 926 Pearl Street, is serving five courses (think salad with falafel, ricotta and spring onion dressing; monkfish and ham risotto; smoked lamb with grilled artichoke; the aforementioned cheese; and pineapple "right-side-up" cake) with five pours of 1792 Bourbon and a welcome cocktail. Dinner will run you just $79 plus tax and tip, and a brand ambassador will be on hand to walk you through tasting notes. Visit West End's website to see the full menu plus pairings.
Friday, April 23
Denver Restaurant Week is back beginning Friday, April 23, and running through Sunday, May 2. Book a seat at one (or more!) of 200 Denver-area restaurants offering prix fixe menus for $25, $35 or $45. The event, generally held in February and March, has been moved to spring to take advantage of Denver's renowned sunny days and warmer weather — even though the definition of "patio weather" has been greatly expanded over the past year. Our favorite participants? Konjo Ethiopian, the Bindery, Spuntino, Coperta and Bastien's. Find yours on the Restaurant Week website.
Project Angel Heart, the nonprofit organization that provides medically tailored meals for people living with serious illnesses, is now in the second year of revamping Dining Out for Life, its signature fundraiser. Normally, participating restaurants donate a portion of their sales for a single day in April to Project Angel Heart — but with restaurant dining rooms shuttered last year and many eateries still on life support, some changes are in order. In 2021, the event has been expanded to run from Friday, April 23, through Sunday, May 2, and restaurants are not being asked to donate. Instead, diners who eat in or take out from nearly 100 Denver restaurants are being asked to make a donation directly to the nonprofit. Of course, some restaurants are able and willing to help out a little extra, so some will be offering cocktails and menu items with a portion going to Project Angel Heart; setting up an additional line to collect customer donations; or donating a smaller percentage than in past years. Details and participating eateries are up on the event's website.
Keep reading for future food and drink events.
Sunday, April 25
Starting Sunday, April 25, chefs Bo Porytko of Misfit Snackbar (inside Middleman at 3401 East Colfax Avenue) and Royce Oliveira of To the Wind Bistro (at 3333 East Colfax Avenue) will trade kitchens and characters for Freaky Sunday, a pop-up swap that spans two weekends. On Sunday, April 25, from 4 to 10 p.m., Oliveira will take over Misfit's tiny food-service window inside Middleman and channel Porytko's frankly unhinged and fiercely delicious style as he turns out bar snacks like peanuts in barrel-aged Worcestershire sauce and mole duck nachos dusted with crema powder and fermented black bean powder. Sunday, May 2, will find Porytko cooking a six-course meal with beer pairings in To the Wind's relatively spacious kitchen. For $85, you'll get refined and beautifully plated courses, including kielbasa Scotch quail eggs in a nest of fried sauerkraut and a sweet pea curd topped with smoked whipped cream and candied cardamom pistachio. Seatings are at 5 and 8 p.m., and reservations are required; make yours by emailing email@example.com. Keep an eye on Misfit's Instagram page for upcoming details. NOTE: This event was rescheduled from early March, when it was canceled unexpectedly.
Wednesday, April 28
If you can actually dredge any words you studied for your weekly elementary school spelling tests from the recesses of your mind, if your alcohol tolerance has gone way, way up in the past fourteen months, and if your brain hasn't liquefied (L-I-Q-U-E-F-I-E-D) in the same period, you might be able to clean up at a drunken spelling bee on Wednesday, April 28. The showdown takes place at Kyu Ramen, 600 East Colfax Avenue, from 6 to 8 p.m. Just $10 gets you into the competition and started with one free drink. After five rounds of both words and drinks, the winner ambulates (A-M-B-U-L-A-T-E-S) away with $100. Purchase tickets on Eventbrite, and have a felicitous (F-E-L-I-C-I-T-O-U-S) evening.
Tuesday, May 4
No one is neutral about Star Wars. Whether you're a casual fan, one of the racist jackwagons who drove poor Rose Tico off social media and out of the last cinematic exercise in fan service, or just someone who wants to cuddle Baby Yoda, we guarantee that you have at least one opinion about the franchise. What better way to express it than on Tuesday, May 4, at Baere Brewing, 320 Broadway, over a pint of C-3(i)PA and a plate of tauntaun tacos? The brewery is releasing its West Coast IPA in a Star Wars-themed can (themed glassware will also be available), and from 3 to 9 p.m., Snacktacular will be serving up tauntaun (pork belly) tacos, That's No Moon (a jumbo cheeseburger) and the Sando Calrissian (grilled cheese). Reservations aren't required; just show up. And may the fork be with you.
Thursday, May 13
For years, Westword celebrated the Denver dining scene at Feast, an annual eating extravaganza that filled the McNichols Building with tables hosted by local restaurants sampling their best dishes. Given the pandemic, Feast has pivoted and turned into Feast To-Go, a drive-thru event at Stanley Marketplace (2501 Dallas Street in Aurora) on May 13 from 4 to 8 p.m. that will again celebrate the city's resilient restaurants. At Feast To-Go, you'll be able to try food from a dozen restaurants and trucks that we’ve honored with Best of Denver awards over the past few years, along with beverages; you can enjoy your goodie bags and restaurant samples at an impromptu picnic or simply take them home...without ever leaving your car. Tickets are now on sale here.
Know of an event that belongs on this calendar? Send information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.