The government is taking its pound of flesh this week, but we've got you covered whether you're drowning your sorrows or blowing your refund. From free to fancy events, here are our seven favorites happening from Monday, April 16, through Friday, April 20. While one is sold out, you can still take a chance on a great dining deal...and keep reading for more dates to put on your culinary calendar so that you don't get shut out again.
Monday, April 16
The bitter truth is that the most popular mixed drinks are little more than sugar water and that carefully created libations that balance booze with sweet, sour and bitter can also have a reputation for pretentiousness. If you'd like to try a proper cocktail in a relaxed setting (without waiting at the door while a snooty host denies you entry because you're waiting for the last straggler in your party to show), try the Bitter Truth Cocktail Competition at Finn's Manor on Monday, April 16. The friendly bar at 2927 Larimer Street will be hosting competitors from Adrift, Departure, Red Square, Oak at Fourteenth and more starting at 7:30 p.m., and you won't even have to meet a cool quota to get in.
Tuesday, April 17
Tuesday, April 17, is tax day, and while the Man might be taking a bite out of your wallet today, you can get a little something back with free shaved ice around town. Kona Ice trucks will be handing out tropical shaved ice to all comers, whether they're settling up with the state or getting lucky with a refund. Find the goods at the Aurora Municipal Building, Broomfield Chamber of Commerce and Larry H. Miller Nissan (2400 West 104th Avenue) from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Markit Digital (5775 Flatiron Parkway in Boulder) and Community Banks of Colorado (18601 Mainstreet in Parker) from 2 to 4 p.m.; and Arvada Chamber of Commerce from 3 to 5 p.m. That's a cool way to celebrate a very uncool day.
Wednesday, April 18
Denver's no stranger to counterculture (how many rapidly disappearing dives around town claim to have hosted Jack Kerouac?), but on Wednesday, April 18, the term takes on a different meaning at Stoic & Genuine's Counter Culture Dinner 10.0. Guests lucky enough to snag a spot will be seated at the oyster bar, where they can watch chefs create a decadent five-course dinner of toro, scallop with cactus gazpacho and chiles, lobster roll, monkfish steak with morels, and uni brûlée with strawberries for dessert. While the price tag seems high at $120 per person, you'll be getting the best seafood in town, as well as wine pairings for each course. So don't think about it: Just make your reservation by calling 303-640-3474 right now, because while there will be two seatings (5:30 and 8 p.m.), space is extremely limited.
If you're a fan of food television, chances are you've seen Colorado Springs chef Brother Luck on Chopped and, more recently, Top Chef. On Wednesday, April 18, you can enjoy Luck's creations — and inspirations — in person at Comal Heritage Food Incubator, 3455 Ringsby Court, when his mother joins him in the kitchen for the restaurant's monthly Impact Dinner. The Southern-skewing, four-course menu is set to include crabcakes with chayote purée; lobster, shrimp and shellfish consommé; a whole-grain take on Creole cuisine with dirty farro; and sweet soda bread with whiskey ice cream. Tickets, $75, can be purchased at eventbrite.com. With Luck, a great meal is in the cards.
Lola Coastal Mexican will host the eleventh Dos Casas culinary adventure benefiting Brent's Place, a home away from home for young cancer patents and their families, on April 18. Once again, chef Jamey Fader will open the doors of his home kitchen at Lola to ten of Denver's finest chefs, who'll cook up a five-course meal. Although the event is sold out, you can still participate by purchasing a raffle ticket for a suggested donation of $20; you'll be entered in a contest for a chance to win twelve gift cards from ten Denver restaurants, totaling $1,200. For more information, go to doscasas.org.
Thursday, April 19
The American South is known for many things, though based on the proliferation of Southern restaurants in town in just the past year, you'd be forgiven for thinking it's all sweet tea and hush puppies. The newest Southern kid on the block, Julep, gives a more expansive view of the cuisine, however. The restaurant is hosting its inaugural Bourbon Dinner on Thursday, April 19. Starting at 7 p.m., the restaurant at 3258 Larimer Street will ply you with bourbon cocktails and appetizers; a three-course dinner of sourdough bread with buttermilk ricotta, pork-jowl pastrami and cornmeal crepes; neat pours of Knob Creek Bourbon; and, yes, more cocktails. Call 303-295-8977 for your reservation ($65), and visit Julep's Facebook page for complete details.
Friday, April 20
One of the great dining misconceptions of our day is that D Bar Denver, 494 East 19th Avenue, only serves desserts. Yes, co-owner Keegan Gerhard is known primarily as a television pastry chef. And, yes, the restaurant's four-course Guittard Chocolate Wine Dinner on Friday, April 20, sounds like an over-the-top sugar high — but don't be misled. The kitchen knows how to seamlessly incorporate cocoa beans into its excellent savory dishes without turning each bite into a cloyingly sweet, one-note dessert. Think shaved vegetable salad with parmesan and a cocoa nib cracker; diver scallops served with celeriac, lemon, pink pepper and white chocolate; and a modern take on pot roast of braised short rib with Swiss chard, carrots and chocolate. The family-style dinner starts at 6:30 p.m. and will run you $75; visit D Bar's website for the complete menu, then call 303-861-4710 to reserve your seat.
Keep reading for future food and drink events.
Thursday, April 26
The 24th annual Dining Out for Life is just around the corner. On Thursday, April 26, more than 230 Denver and Boulder restaurants and breweries will donate 25 percent of their sales to Project Angel Heart, an organization that prepares and delivers medically tailored meals to people living with HIV/AIDS, cancer, heart disease and other life-threatening illnesses, so you can enjoy a great meal while doing a good deed. Plan ahead by making a reservation at one of the participating eateries, some of which will donate a percentage of bar sales as well as food sales. Visit the Dining Out for Life website for a list of all restaurants taking part.
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Sunday, April 29
The world is full of great rivalries: Broncos vs. Raiders, Aaron Burr vs. Alexander Hamilton, Roadrunner vs. Wile E. Coyote, and, of course, East vs. West and Denver vs. Boulder. The latter two will be decided definitively on Sunday, April 29, with Rumble in the Rockies. The Riverside, 1724 Broadway in Boulder, will host an Iron Chef-style cook-off, with a team representing Boulder and Western cuisine (helmed by Aracana's Kyle Mendenhall) facing off against chefs from Denver repping Eastern cuisine (led by Ryan Gorby of Cho77). Each team will have an hour to prepare two dishes, after which they will be tasted and judged by audience members and professional eaters alike. After the showdown, you'll be treated to a screening of the Chinese comedy Cook Up a Storm, which depicts the eternal battle between good and evil...er, street food and fine dining. Find out more and buy your ticket, $30, at the event's Facebook page. Dinner and a movie was never this dramatic.
Friday, September 14, through Sunday, September 16
You've got to be wildly optimistic to make plans for a weekend six months away, but sometimes the event merits the commitment. Such is the case with the Telluride Blues and Brews Festival. There's beer, blues and incredible views, yes, but there's also the six-hour drive from Denver, not to mention the challenge of finding accommodations that won't have you wailing like an old drunk who's out of hooch and whose woman took his dog and left. The festival runs from Friday, September 14, through Sunday, September 16, with more than fifty breweries pouring at the Grand Tasting on Saturday, September 15. Three-day festival, camping and late-night show passes are on sale now ($30 to $200), and single-day tickets ($70 to $75) go on sale June 13 on the festival's website. Don't wait to make your purchase: VIP and RV camping passes are already sold out.
Watch for our weekend culinary calendar on Friday. If you know of a date that should be on these calendars, send information to firstname.lastname@example.org.