While restaurants around town will be crammed with couples trying to forget the spat they got into while trying to find a parking spot and make the best of limited menu options on Friday night, we've got choices that don't involve overpriced prix fixe menus. Here are four of our favorite happenings this weekend that don't rely on romance (unless you count your love for craft beer), plus more events through March 13. And if you're looking for a VD event, take a look at our picks that won't break the bank (or your heart).
Friday, February 14
Give Valentine's Day the finger by heading to the Dairy Block, 1855 Blake Street, to hang for perhaps the most unusual (and, frankly, mildly incomprehensible) event of the month: French Punk. Starting on Friday, February 14, every weekend will boast new events: an un-Valentine's drag show and a pair of drag brunches with performers from the unsettling and deeply entertaining Dragula on February 14 through 16; a French Punk disco and bazaar on February 21 and 22; and live music and a leap year party on February 28 and 29. Cocktail bar Run for the Roses will also be running a pop-up with presumably anti-establishment drinks (hopefully served at anti-establishment prices) all three weekends. A look at event planner Thrice's website raises more questions than it answers: Will there be mimes, will slam dancing be allowed, and just how punk can something on the Dairy Block really be? But that's where you can find event details and a link to tickets, which start at $65 for Friday's show and run the gamut for the rest of the events. One thing we are sure of: A portion of proceeds will be donated to the Matthew Shepard Foundation, which works to end hate crimes and support the LGBTQ+ community.
Where to take your sometime sweetie on V-Day if you can't quite decide how you feel about them? Urban Farmer, 1659 Wazee Street, has the perfect event if you run hot and cold: the Fire & Ice Bar, open Friday, February 14, and Saturday, February 15, from 7 to 10 p.m. The restaurant's patio will be open for business with one side including a hot chocolate bar, fire dancers, fire pits (with free s'mores kits!) and, of course, hot cocktails; the other boasts an ice bar and ice shot glasses, ice sculptures, fur throws and frigid drinks. There's no cover to get in, so just show up with someone who won't make you want to camp out in the farthest reaches of the ice bar on a frigid February evening. And since the pop-up bar is sponsored by Yeti, the first 150 customers will receive a free Yeti Rambler insulated tumbler — to keep your home beverages as hot or cold as your romances.
Saturday, February 15
Had a lackluster Valentine's Day? Cheese and booze will never let you down, so forget your disappointing date and opt for a solo expedition to the Grilled Cheese & Beer Fest on Saturday, February 15; it's a lovefest in the form of crispy, crunchy sandwiches washed down by craft beer. Show up for unlimited bites from Blake Street Tavern, Maine Shack, Cheese Love Grill and the Brutal Poodle, among others; bottomless brews are courtesy of Horse and Dragon, Mockery, Spice Trade and Zuni Street. Tickets are currently on sale on Eventbrite or Facebook for $54 or $89 (the Big Cheese option gets you early entry and full-sized beers instead of samples), though prices are set to increase as the event approaches. Choose from the afternoon (12:30 to 3:30 p.m.) or evening (5 to 8 p.m.) session at Runway 35 Park, 8863 East 47th Avenue.
Sunday, February 16
The Platonic ideal of a Sunday morning includes at least three things: pancakes, hair o' the dog and a jolt of caffeine. On Sunday, February 16, you can get all of those at Novel Strand Brewing Co., which is releasing its newest imperial coffee stout at 10 a.m. And because man cannot live on 8.3 percent beer alone, Ninja Ramen Mobile will be on hand serving up fluffy flapjacks until noon, while the folks from Queen City Collective Coffee, which shares the space at 305 West First Avenue with the brewery, will provide pours of the custom roast used to craft the beer. Visit Novel Strand's Facebook page for details about the brew (both the boozy and black varieties) as well as the Sunday morning happening.
Keep reading for more food and drink events to come....
Thursday, February 20
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 they haven't, the booze (from local outfits like Little Machine, Briar Common, Epic and Comrade) should kill all those nasties. 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.
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 Bindery and Denver Milk Market). The race for reservations is on! It's you vs. the rest of Denver scrambling to book the best tables in town.
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.
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