So, service industry peeps, you've made it through the holidays, braving not only your own difficult family, but everyone else's, as well — plus flaky co-workers, shitty hours and horrible bosses. You deserve a treat. On Monday, January 14, hit up the Monkey Barrel, 4401 Tejon Street, for its Service Industry Survivors Ball. Doors open at 7 p.m., with music from ’90s cover band Star 69 as well as giveaways and drink specials all night long. Details are on the bar's Facebook page, so get your shift covered and get out there for some well-deserved fun.
Pony Up, 1808 Blake Street, is one of our favorite new bars in Denver, thanks in part to the quintet of French dip sandwiches on the menu that run the gamut from traditional to Vietnamese-style to a taste of the Windy City. Not content to rest on its laurels, the joint has invited chef Justin Brunson (of Masterpiece Delicatessen and Old Major) to try and beat the house at 6 p.m. Tuesday, January 15, with his own sandwich creation. Opt for Brunson's version or owner Seamus Feeley's take; the highest-selling sammie wins the day. Our call? We'll take one of each — and then another one of our favorite, because (unlike French people) you can never have too many French dips. Find out more on the bar's Facebook page.
Comal Heritage Food Incubator's next Impact Dinner is a first for the nonprofit restaurant: While the monthly meals are often cooked by local restaurateurs or program participants from Mexico and Syria, this month's meal, on Wednesday, January 16, is the first to feature an Ethiopian menu. Building on the Ethiopian coffee service and lunch she serves on Thursdays at the eatery, 3455 Ringsby Court, chef Sara Gebre is taking to the kitchen at 6 p.m. to prepare a full feast of sambusas, pasti (a savory fried dough appetizer), mead, berbere chicken stew, siga alicha (beef stew seasoned with turmeric), injera with all the accompaniments, and, of course, coffee service — and carrot cake! — after the meal. Tickets, $75 to $100, are on sale now at eventbrite.com and include cocktail and wine pairings, tax and tip.
If you're looking for a homey, inexpensive night out for regular weeknight dining, consider Julep's new prix fixe deal on Wednesday and Thursday nights. Starting Wednesday, January 16, guests can opt for one course each from the snacks, shared plates and dessert menu for just $30. Dinner service at the RiNo restaurant, 3258 Larimer Street, starts at 5 p.m. nightly.
Sonoko Sakai has worn many hats in her life: film producer, food writer (her third cookbook, Japanese Home Cooking: Authentic Recipes for the Everyday Cook, will be on shelves in late 2019), cultural ambassador and noodle maker are just a start. She's currently in Colorado for the University of Colorado's Grain School, and has teamed up with equally grain-obsessed chef Kelly Whitaker for a pair of events at his eateries around town. On Thursday, January 17, Sakai is teaching a soba noodle-making workshop using Japanese buckwheat flour and Whitaker's own house-milled grains; the class runs from 5 to 9 p.m. at 3601 Arapahoe Avenue in Boulder and costs $125 on Basta's website. If buckwheat isn't your bag, head to the Wolf's Tailor, 4058 Tejon Street, on Sunday, January 20, for a three-course ramen dinner that includes beverage pairings. Seatings are available for $55 starting at 4:30 p.m.; book yours on the restaurant's website.
"Building community through food" is one of those phrases that can seem meaningless or even insufferable, especially when the only "community" that appears to exist is you, the other person at your two-top, and the harried server who rushes through the specials and then disappears for hours. But Citizen Rail, 1899 16th Street, is hoping to bridge the gap between kitchen and customer with its Chef Cooking Club. From 3 to 6 p.m. on Thursday, January 17 (and continuing on the third Thursday of every month), a local guest chef will be in the house to create three bites (for $9 each) reflecting his or her restaurant's style, then join guests in the bar for casual conversation. This month's chef is Justin Brunson (see above), fresh off his victory (or defeat!) at Pony Up; future chefs include Paul Reilly (Beast + Bottle, Coperta) and Lon Symensma (ChoLon, Cho77, LeRoux). Visit Citizen Rail's Facebook page to keep up to date on the series.
Friday, January 18
What kind of a monster — nay, nihilist — would tread upon hundreds of years of brewing tradition and create an imperial blond stout with cacao nibs and coffee beans? Obviously, someone who cares nothing for the laws of nature or of man, who has no values or loyalties, who simply wants to watch the world burn — or someone who's just a fan of The Big Lebowski. While we can't vouch for the ideological leanings of the brewers at Gunbarrel Brewing Company, it appears they are fans of the Coen brothers classic, as the taproom at 7088 Winchester Circle in Boulder is screening the film on Friday, January 18, to coincide with the release of the Nihilist Stout. The movie, $5 at eventbrite.com, starts at 7 p.m., with doors at 6 p.m. so you can indulge in this Caucasian-style beer before the bowling balls start rolling. Can't make the Friday show? There will be an encore performance on Saturday, as well. And upon further reflection, we've decided the brewery isn't run by true nihilists; if it was, that brew would be a Belgian imperial blond rye session pastry stout.
Keep reading for future food and drink events.