Indulge all your vices this weekend — wine, rum, tequila, cigarettes, beer, gambling, gluttony and animal husbandry — at the most delicious and thirst-quenching events from Friday, February 21, through Sunday, February 23. And don't stop there: Keep reading for more food and drink fun through mid-March.
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.
Feisty old women are a delight to watch, and — provided their razor-sharp tongues aren't aimed at you — a hoot to hang with. Grandma, the titular, chain-smoking character in the film Lucky Grandma, is no exception, even when she unwittingly finds herself in the middle of a gang war after an ill-advised stint at the casino. Join her for a night of boba and beer on Friday, February 21, at the Sie FilmCenter, 2510 East Colfax Avenue, where she'll light up the silver screen at 7 p.m. But starting at 6 p.m., Tea Street and Cerebral Brewing will pop up in the theater's lobby so you can raise a glass to women who live by their own rules and don't take shit from anyone, even Chinatown gang bosses. The happy hour is free to attend; find info about the movie on Denver Film's Facebook page. Film tickets are $15 on the Sie website.
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 Nickel and Denver Milk Market). And while you may not have any luck trying to snag an online reservation at this late date, don't be shy about giving the eateries on your list a call to check for any last-minute cancellations.
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.
Saturday, February 22, may be National Margarita Day, but we're more interested in rum — or at least rum-running. Luckily, landlocked tiki bar Hidden Idol, 2240 North Clay Street, is welcoming filmmaker and distillery owner Bailey Pryor to talk about the politics behind Prohibition, legendary bootlegger Bill McCoy (the subject of Pryor's 2012 documentary The Real McCoy) and the rum production process, specifically the process Pryor uses in his own distillery, dubbed — you guessed it — the Real McCoy, which turns out spirits aged from three to twelve years. Visit Hidden Idol's Facebook page for details, and take note: While the 4 p.m. presentation is free, you surely won't be able to resist purchasing at least one of the bar's tantalizing tiki drinks to wet your whistle.
There are all kinds of rhyming rules about what order you should drink your alcohol in — or whether you should even switch booze at all after you've cracked open a bottle. But you're probably going to feel bad the next morning no matter what, so we say mix it up with abandon. Even if you started National Margarita Day (see above) with a couple of rum-based umbrella drinks, carry on by sipping one of Mexico's most famous exports — even if the genesis of the cocktail is lost in a haze of tequila, the marg is indelibly linked to our southern neighbor — at joints around town. El Tequileño's Lakewood and Arvada locations are serving Casa Mexico margaritas for $6.99 from 6 to 8 p.m., while Boulder's Bartaco is upping the ante by kicking off Margarita March
eight days early with a hibiscus tequila and mezcal mixer (visit @bartacolife on Instagram for the full five-week lineup of drinks). Finally, Big Red F eateries Lola, Zolo and Centro are all celebrating with specials like an oversized 20-ounce Q Coin marg for two (or one, if you're not a perdedor) for $15 at Lola; Zolo's house marg, the Zolorita, for just $5 all day; and a full weekend of deals — $5 margs before sunset and $8 frozen margs — from Friday, February 21, through Sunday, February 23 at Centro. ¡Salud!
Sunday, February 23
Poor Westfax Brewing Co.: So far from good restaurants, so close to Casa Bonita. But on Sunday, February 23, you won't have to leave the taproom at 6733 West Colfax Avenue to find food — not even to stand in frigid February weather to order from a food truck camping out in the parking lot. From 1 to 4 p.m. (or until the food has vanished into the bellies of hungry craft-beer drinkers), Westfax is hosting a chili cookoff; just $12 gets you ten chili samples, one beer and the chance to vote on the recipe that rises above them all. Half of the ticket price will be donated to the Eating Disorder Foundation, which provides free support and resources to those struggling with disordered eating. Think your recipe makes the grade? There's still space to sign up as a contestant, with the $5 entry fee good for a free brew, all-day happy-hour pricing and the ability to taste your competition. Visit Westfax's Facebook page for further info.
Keep reading for future food happenings....
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.
Wednesday, March 4
With the presidential administration and USDA currently laying siege to their own citizens by preparing to remove approximately 700,000 people currently receiving Federal SNAP (food stamp) benefits, hungry Colorado citizens (who are already less likely to access benefits they're entitled to than those in 42 other states) are at a huge disadvantage. That's why a coalition of over thirty anti-hunger advocates — including Hunger Free Colorado, a nonprofit dedicated to connecting people to food resources and lobbying for legislative change — has created Hunger Action Day on Wednesday, March 4. At 8 a.m. participants will meet at the Scottish Rite Masonic Center, 1370 Grant Street, for training before relocating to the State Capitol for meetings with legislators. RSVP to the event on its website, and visit HFC's website for more details about the day, including the organization's legislative goals for the year.
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.
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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.
Thursday, March 19
City Park's SAME Cafe, 2023 East Colfax Avenue, is celebrating fourteen years in business this year; it's a major accomplishment for any restaurant, made even more impressive because the cozy lunch spot is a nonprofit, donation-based eatery that has never put a price on its menu. Diners pay what they can, either in greenbacks or volunteer hours, and regardless of financial status, everyone enjoys healthy food while being treated with dignity. And in keeping with its mission, the enterprise's annual fundraiser on Thursday, March 19, the So All May Eat Gala, is an egalitarian affair: Attire is "Colorado dressy," which means anything from cargo pants to custom gowns, and while tickets cost $75 (which includes small plates from SAME chefs and students in the cafe's Cook to Work culinary education program; desserts from local sweet shops, including the Inventing Room; a silent auction; and spirits from Laws Whiskey House), there are also pay-what-you-can and volunteer options. The fun runs from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Space Gallery Annex, 95 South Cherokee Street; find all the details on SAME's website.
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