This weekend marks the beginning of Denver Restaurant Week and Dining Out for Life — both giving you a full week when you can support a local nonprofit at the same time you support local restaurants — so there's really no excuse not to dine in or get takeout at least once before Monday. You can also try a tea tasting, bourbon barbecue, fried ice cream, mochi muffins and duck nachos.
Keep reading for the top food and drink events this weekend, as well as future happenings, including the tentative return of in-person food fests next month.
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 this week 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.
Saturday, April 24
Third Culture Bakery has been baking toothsome mochi muffins and doughnuts for more than a year in Aurora, and now founders Sam Butarbutar and Wenter Shyu are ready to dazzle central Denver with their colorful creations, carefully sourced matcha tea drinks and commitment to community causes. The grand opening of the new Third Culture location, at 2500 Lawrence Street (tucked in behind Uchi) features a VIP tasting package that you can pre-order now for pick-up on Saturday, April 24, or Sunday, April 25, with proceeds of sales going toward safety kits (complete with keychain alarms and pepper spray) that will be donated to vulnerable members of the AAPI and LGBTQ communities. Order your Third Culture package for pick-up, then find details about the safety kits (including how you can help out after the grand opening) on Third Culture's website. You can also stop by for à la carte beverages and pastries all weekend; just follow social distancing guidelines and expect a line, because the cafe is tiny.
Ease into the weekend calm and centered, with a free virtual tea tasting from Ku Cha House of Tea on Saturday, April 24. From 10 to 10:30 a.m., join the tasting on GoToMeeting, where owner Pan Rong will be guiding a tasting of three earthy-tasting teas: sui yue liu xiang ripe puerh, Tiger Mountain raw puerh, and Tibetan tea, all of which are available for purchase on the teahouse's website or at its retail locations (1211 Pearl Street in Boulder and 2445 East Third Avenue in Denver). Find more info about the individual brews on Ku Cha's Instagram page and details about the tasting on its Facebook page.
Dairy Block whiskey bar Seven Grand, at 1855 Blake Street, is joining forces with GQue Barbecue on Saturday, April 24, for an afternoon of barbecue and bourbon. At 1 p.m., ticketed guests will get a spread of sausage, brisket and pulled pork, plus sides of coleslaw, mac and cheese, beans and rolls) along with tasters of Texas's Garrison Brothers whiskey. The distillery claims to be the oldest legal operation in the state, which is both reassuring (no methanol!) and vaguely disappointing (goody two shoes!). In any case, we're sure the whiskey will be strong and the meat will be tender. Purchase tickets, $45, on Eventbrite.
Little Man Ice Cream Factory, at 4411 West Colfax Avenue, is serving fried ice cream — you know, the kind that used to come at the end of your dinner at the long-gone Garcia's chain (na-na-na-na-NA-na-na), except better — for just one weekend, this Saturday, April 24, and Sunday, April 25. Get it in vanilla or chocolate from 2 to 9 p.m. Vámonos!
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 11 a.m. and 8 p.m., and reservations are required; make yours by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Keep an eye on Misfit's Instagram page for upcoming details.
Keep reading for future food and drink events.
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.
Saturday, May 1
Now for something completely different: A Cinco de Mayo celebration that's not run by gringos in fake mustaches and pink sombreros. For the first time, the predominantly Latino Westwood neighborhood is hosting Peace and Pride, a celebration of Mexican and Mexican-American culture, on Saturday, May 1. From 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., show up at Morrison Road between South Meade and South Osceola streets for a car show and hopping contest, dancing, live music and art (including live graffiti). Of course, there will also be food and drinks from Cultura Craft Chocolate, X'tabai Yucateco (serving Mayan street food), Cholo Ass Vegan, Combi Taco and Molino de Westwood (which makes heirloom nixtamal masa). Admission is free; visit Rise Westwood Collective's website for details.
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.
Saturday, May 22
The love affair with adding bacon to everything seems awfully 2012, but we're including this year's Bacon and Beer Classic both because literally everything that happened before March 17, 2020, seems like it was a million years ago (we stand by our use of the word "literally"), and also because the event is one of the first summer food fests we've seen return to a fourth wave/post-COVID/mid- to late-apocalyptic landscape. Guests will be ushered along a path at Kennedy Golf Course, 10500 East Hampden Avenue, where they'll pause at stations to throw back beer, cider and pork products. The Classic touts full-sized bacon-based dishes instead of sample sizes this year. Purchase tickets ($79 or $59) on Eventbrite, where — like any bacon-munching, beer-swilling golfer — you'll need to pick your "b" time (11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.) to start your beer and bacon death march. Visit the event website for details.
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