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The Six Best Events on the Culinary Calendar This Weekend

Breakfast bubbly and banana splits are on the menu at Blanchard this Sunday.EXPAND
Breakfast bubbly and banana splits are on the menu at Blanchard this Sunday.
Courtesy Blanchard Family Wines
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Get your vaccine, get beer (or wine or cider or cocktails), get brunch, get dumplings. There, your weekend is fully planned out for you.

Not sure what to do with the rest of your life? We can't help you with the long-term, but we do have your drinking and dining schedule planned out a few weeks in advance — just keep reading.

Friday, April 16
Tap & Burger isn't just serving up brews and burgers this weekend — it's serving up free COVID vaccines. The Denver mini chain is working with the state of Colorado and with Dick's Sporting Goods Park, 6000 Victory Way in Commerce City, to put on a vaccine clinic targeted at underserved (and statistically under-vaccinated) BIPOC communities. Appointments for the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine are available between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Friday, April 16, and Saturday, April 17. (A clinic for the second dose of the vaccine is scheduled for Friday, May 7, and Saturday, May 8.) Everyone is welcome, but an appointment is required, and both English- and Spanish-speaking health-care providers will be on site; ID will not be required. To make an appointment, call 211 (operators are English/Spanish bilingual) or visit the 211 or COVID Check Colorado website.

Fresh oysters, craft beer and explicit lyrics: What's not to love at Raíces Brewing, at 2060 West Colfax Avenue? On Friday, April 16, from 5:30 to 7 p.m., chef Edwin Sandoval of Xatrucho will be preparing oysters to pair with the brewery's beers. Reggaetón tunes (helpfully described as "explicit to children" on the event's Facebook page) will be blaring. And if you're not a raw-oyster-eating kind of hombre, food truck Pico Arepa will also be selling food from 3 to 10 p.m. Make sure you reserve your table on Raíces' website to make sure you're there for the cleanest oysters and the dirtiest lyrics.

Beer festivals aren't going to look the same for a while yet — but you can make your own with the Liquid Arts Passport.EXPAND
Beer festivals aren't going to look the same for a while yet — but you can make your own with the Liquid Arts Passport.
Nikki Rae Photography

Saturday, April 17
With temperatures rapidly climbing (this weekend notwithstanding) and COVID restrictions receding even more rapidly, it's the perfect time to purchase your Liquid Arts Passport. The project is a collab of the Colorado Association for Viticulture & Enology, the Colorado Brewers Guild, the Colorado Cider Guild and the Colorado Distillers Guild, so no matter your poison, it's got you covered. The passports are available in five- and ninety-day versions and include discounts, BOGOs and freebies at taprooms, distilleries, wineries and cideries around the state. There are different passports for four different regions, so you won't end up wasting money for deals at places you'll never drive to. Choose from Mountains & Mesas (southwestern Colorado, $30 or $60); Pikes Peak Wonders (Colorado Springs, Pueblo and Salida, $10 or $25); Denver & Cities of the Rockies (Denver, Boulder and Fort Collins, $30 or $60); and Rockies Playground (Glenwood Springs, Vail, Breckenridge and Aspen, $10 or $25). Find out more, including details on deals and participants, on the Liquid Arts Passport website.

Run to Fox Run Cafe for dumplings before Oh Golly runs out.EXPAND
Run to Fox Run Cafe for dumplings before Oh Golly runs out.
Mark Antonation

Sunday, April 18
Three words: breakfast banana split. To get it, visit Tock and book your seat at Blanchard Family Wines, 1855 Blake Street, on Sunday, April 18. Oh, you need more details? Sounds fake, but okay. Blanchard is  collaborating with Palisade's Sauvage Spectrum winery for a Colorado bubbles brunch, with seatings at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. For $55, you'll get three courses: the aforementioned split, with banana, berries and honey-vanilla yogurt; a pulled-pork Benedict with barbecue Hollandaise, sweet-potato purée, cornbread and a 62-degree egg (that's Celsius, and it's the perfect temperature); and French toast topped with both honey and maple syrup. Each course will be paired with a different sparkler, and the winemaker will be on hand to talk about his creations. You know what to do.

Fort Greene, at 321 East 45th Avenue, is welcoming legendary Wax Trax Records on Sunday, April 18, for a vinyl pop-up with drinks for everyone (yes, everyone, even if you're not indulging in booze). Fort Wax will run for two sessions: noon to 2 p.m. and 3 to 5 p.m.; cocktails are courtesy of Madre Mezcal (for tipplers) and Seedlip (for teetotalers). While indoor reservations have already filled up, the bar's patio will be first come, first served. Cover is $10, which includes one free drink. A portion of ticket sales will go to nonprofit organization Youth on Record, which supports both underserved teenagers and local artists by hiring artists to teach academic, podcasting and music classes. Take a look at Fort Greene's Instagram page for details.

You've dealt with COVID shortages before: toilet paper (exceedingly boring and exceedingly troubling), bucatini (ridiculous), and now ketchup (the literal worst — wait, figurative worst....no, the literal worst — so who cares). But a dumpling shortage?. The wild popularity and subsequent shortage of the latter probably isn't driven by COVID, but the pandemic has certainly made it more difficult to just show up at a restaurant and get your hungry hands on the plump and tasty snacks. On Sunday, April 18, Oh Golly Dumplings will be turning out beef, pork, kimchi and vegan jackfruit dumplings at Fox Run Cafe, 3550 East Colfax Avenue, from 4 to 9 p.m. Call the restaurant at 303-537-4584 for a dine-in or takeout reservation (to go-ers should be prepared to place an order when they call), then show up for cocktails from the folks at Family Jones Distillery. Visit Fox Run's Instagram page for more details and a complete menu.

Keep reading for future food and drink events.

The Six Best Events on the Culinary Calendar This WeekendEXPAND
Courtesy Stoic & Genuine

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.

The Six Best Events on the Culinary Calendar This WeekendEXPAND
Courtesy West End Tavern

Thursday, April 22
How can you pass up a whiskey dinner that lists "really good cheese" as the fourth course? You can't; it's 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.

Family Jones Spirit House is participating in Dining Out for Life, and will be giving above and beyond to Project Angel Heart.EXPAND
Family Jones Spirit House is participating in Dining Out for Life, and will be giving above and beyond to Project Angel Heart.
Danielle Lirette

Friday, April 23
Denver Restaurant Week is back from Friday, April 23 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.

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 misfitsnackbar@gmail.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.

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 cafe@westword.com.

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