The Six Best Events on the Culinary Calendar This Weekend

Despite what you may think, oatmeal is for breakfast, not just for beer.
Despite what you may think, oatmeal is for breakfast, not just for beer. Flickr/eren {sea+prairie}
This weekend boasts a wealth of events for every personality: There's walleye and wine on the menu (not the same menu) for down-to-earth types, a festival celebrating the humblest of breakfast foods for families, booze giveaways for bar-goers, and a poke pop-up for trendsters. Here are six of our favorite food and drink events in the days ahead.
click to enlarge Leave your baby at the door and step inside the Kentucky Inn for a walleye dinner. - MARK ANTONATION
Leave your baby at the door and step inside the Kentucky Inn for a walleye dinner.
Mark Antonation
Friday, January 12
If, like the rest of us, you select your wine purely based on the price (under $12, please) and the appeal of the label, you may have noticed that strategy — while perfectly satisfactory for that bottle you're going to drink alone on Tuesday night — could be lacking when it comes to purchasing wine for special events. Little's Wine & Spirits comes to the rescue with a How to Read a Wine Label class on Friday, January 12. From 6:30 to 8 p.m., you'll be guided through the tangled thicket of French, German and enological terms by knowledgeable experts, all while tasting the wines in question, so you can get an idea of how those phrases play out on your palate. The classes will run you $25 (snacks are included) and takes place just down the street from Little's at John Holly's Asian Bistro, 2422 South Downing Street. Purchase yours at, and hurry, as there are just a few spaces left.

The Kentucky Inn, 890 South Pearl Street, reopened in December after an extensive remodel that transformed it from a comfortably crusty dive bar into a Midwest-inspired neighborhood bar and grill packed with parents, toddlers, bescarfed young men and women, Packers fans and a smattering of old regulars. On Friday, January 12, the Inn is returning to its proletariatian roots and kicking off a weekly Walleye Friday Fish Fry starting at 5 p.m. Beat the crowds and get there early for your basket of crispy fried fish, fries, tartar sauce and a lemon, as the joint is expecting to sell out quickly. Find out more at the bar's Facebook page.

click to enlarge El Jefe is turning one this week. - MARK ANTONATION
El Jefe is turning one this week.
Mark Antonation
Saturday, January 13
There's a food festival for everything these days: Beer (it's liquid bread, yo), burgers, bourbon, bacon, bourbon and bacon, tacos and brunch. But Lafayette has been taking the cake for years: Its oddly specific food celebration, the Lafayette Oatmeal Festival, is entering its 22nd year. As to be expected, it starts at the crack of dawn — 7:30 a.m. — on Saturday, January 13, when attendees will be able to choose from oatmeal and the traditional toppings, oatmeal pancakes or oatmeal muffins for breakfast. After you're done carb loading, a 5k race starts at 9:30 a.m., or you can test your skills on the Ninja Warrior Course starting at 8 a.m. (hint: The rock climbers always end up on top). Admission to the festival is just $8 (kids under two get in free — they can't eat much); race registration is $20. Various locations around town play host to the festivities, but the most important meal of the day will be served at Pioneer Elementary School, 101 East Baseline Road in Lafayette. See for complete details about the event.

While we don't often write about bar openings in this space, The Brutal Poodle, 1967 South Broadway, has made it hard to ignore its grand opening on Saturday, January 13. Doors open at 11 a.m., and raffle drawings with prizes ranging from concert tickets to skateboards to guitars start at 5 p.m. The biggest reason to show up, though, is the free booze: free Odell pours, cocktails and shots throughout the evening will immediately make the Poodle man's second-best friend. See the bar's very excited Facebook page for details of the day.

There's not much to celebrate in the long, cold stretch between New Year's Eve and St. Paddy's Day, so the good folks at El Jefe, 2450 West 44th Avenue, are kindly throwing a party to mark their first year in business on Saturday, January 13. As everyone knows, no Mexican birthday party is complete without a piñata (and a bouncy castle, but since it probably won't fit on the patio, we'll give the boss a pass), so show up for $5 margs, $3 shots and the opportunity to drink too much and beat the crap out of a multicolored ass. ¡Feliz cumpleaños!

click to enlarge Profess your love for poke at Aloha Poke Co.'s pop-up on Sunday. - LINNEA COVINGTON
Profess your love for poke at Aloha Poke Co.'s pop-up on Sunday.
Linnea Covington
Sunday, January 14
End your weekend with the juice cleanse of food: poke. No meal will make you feel as virtuous as a delicious, trendy and seemingly healthy bowl of raw fish and rice, and on Sunday, January 14, Modern Nomad, 2936 Larimer Street, willl host a pop-up with Aloha Poke Co., a future Zeppelin Station tenant. From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., DJ Trinimmatty will be spinning island tunes while you get your first taste of the Chicago chain's creations. And for those of you thinking, "Chicago?" just keep in mind, the Windy City is a lot closer to water than Denver. Find out more at Modern Nomad's Facebook page.

Keep reading for food and drink events worth planning for.

click to enlarge Hedge Row will shut down on Monday, January 15, for an industry New Year Celebration. - DANIELLE LIRETTE
Hedge Row will shut down on Monday, January 15, for an industry New Year Celebration.
Danielle Lirette
Monday, January 15
If you work in a restaurant, you know the hell that is working New Year's Eve. The hours, the, the customers...the crowds all combine to make your NYE less than celebratory. Because you had to work then, Hedge Row, 100 Steele Street, wants to take care of you for a night. From 8 p.m. to midnight on Monday, January 15, restaurant employees can show up for the Industry Night New Year Celebration for an evening of carousing and drinks on the house. It's free for industry folks, but you must register and show your ticket at the door; get yours at and get ready to toast the two-week-old year in style.

Thursday, January 25

Host Padma Lakshmi might be the most recognizable face on Bravo's Top Chef, but we think Gail Simmons has the better job — she gets to eat (and judge) the food in a no-nonsense manner without having to deliver awkward sexual innuendo. After fifteen seasons on the show, Simmons recently penned Bringing It Home: Recipes From a Life of Adventurous Eating, and will be hosting a dinner at Frasca on Thursday, January 25, that showcases recipes from the cookbook. Diners will get a five-course dinner with wine pairings and an autographed copy of Bringing It Home for $160 (a veritable bargain at the Boulder restaurant); seatings start at 5 p.m. Call Frasca, 1738 Pearl Street, at 303-442-6966 to reserve your seat for a dinner with true foodie royalty.

click to enlarge Chinese calligraphers will be on hand at the Chinese New Year Celebration in February. - COURTESY OF NATHAN YIP FOUNDATION
Chinese calligraphers will be on hand at the Chinese New Year Celebration in February.
Courtesy of Nathan Yip Foundation
Friday, February 9
Lunar New Year isn't until February 16, but why wait to celebrate the Year of the Dog (obviously the best year)? The Nathan Yip Foundation, which funds educational projects for children in rural Colorado and China, is putting on the dog at the biggest Chinese New Year bash in town on Friday, February 9. From 6 to 11 p.m., three floors of the McNichols Building, 144 West Colfax Avenue, will be transformed into a Chinese night market; from the traditional (lion dancers, calligraphers, fortune tellers) to the modern (silent disco, karaoke), revelers will be treated to pawsome entertainment while wining and dining at mastiff food stations and enjoying the open bar(k).  Tickets are $100 for those under 35 (called "young professionals" tickets) and $225 for everyone else; fetch yours at and get ready to party your tail off.

Sunday, February 18, and Monday, February 19
If you love cured meats — and we mean really, really love cured meats — you know who Brian Polcyn is. The George Clooney of salumi, James Beard Award nominee and author of Charcuterie and Salumi  is coming to Denver on Sunday, February 18, and Monday, February 19, to teach a two-day charcuterie and whole-animal butchery course. The class will be held at Il Porcellino, 4334 West 41st Avenue, starting at 9 a.m. both days. And while this course isn't for the casual learner (Polcyn will cover topics like European vs. American butchery and how to purchase and break down whole animals and still turn a profit) or the squeamish (a whole pig will be used for demonstration), it's a unique opportunity for chefs and serious hobbyists. See Polcyn's Facebook page for more details.

click to enlarge CineCHEF benefits the Boulder International Food Festival. - MARK ANTONATION
CineCHEF benefits the Boulder International Food Festival.
Mark Antonation
Friday, February 23
Gentle readers who still get bent out of shape that Westword covers Boulder as well as Denver: CineCHEF 2018 is the event for you. The event's fourth iteration happens on Friday, February 23, 2018, at Rembrandt Yard, 1301 Spruce Street in Boulder, when Boulder chefs face off against Denver chefs to prove who can create the tastiest, most creative bite based on a beloved film. Last year's roster included Daniel Asher of River and Woods serving smoked scallops, ceviche and Peruvian chile in an homage to Up in Smoke, and Steven Redzikowski of Oak at Fourteenth tapping Mia Wallace to hand out miniature burgers and a $5 shake à la Pulp Fiction. Tickets, $95, are on sale now at and include admission to the film Michelin Stars: Tales From the Kitchen. So, gentle readers, etc., purchase your tickets and start planning the long and dangerous trip up to The Town That Totally Isn't Part of Denver to support your hometown heroes as they compete in hostile territory.

If you know of a date that should be on this calendar, send information to [email protected].

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Amy Antonation knows that street tacos are infinitely superior to tacos that come covered in squiggles of crema, and she will stab you with her knitting needles if you try to convince her otherwise.
Contact: Amy Antonation