With the Craft Brewers Conference invading Denver this week, you might be too full of beer to plan any meal outside of directing your Lyft driver to pull through a 24-hour taco stand on your way home from another tapping. And while that's a valid life choice — and a strategy we've employed many times ourselves — there are some other options. Keep reading for a handful of great food and drink ideas this week, plus more throughout April.
Cart-Driver, 2500 Larimer Street, kicks off a beer-pairing menu that runs through the week, not just one night. From Monday, April 8, through Friday, April 12, the three-course menu pairs oysters on the half-shell, spring veggies with housemade ricotta, and clam and pancetta pizza with session and New England IPAs and a farmhouse saison from Wyoming's Roadhouse Brewing Co. The meal is available all day (doors open at noon and stay open ’til midnight) each day.
Northern Colorado goes Deep South on Tuesday, April 9, and Wednesday, April 10, as the Fort Collins and Boulder locations of Jax Fish House (123 North College Avenue and 928 Pearl Street, respectively) welcome New Orleans chef Marcus Jacobs of Marjie's Grill to cook his mash-up of Southern and Southeast Asian grub. Cracklings, Gulf shrimp and grilled lamb will be on the four-course menu, but they'll be accented with flavors from further afield, like turmeric, lemongrass and Thai chiles, and herb wraps with dipping sauces and som tam salad. Cocktails from Marjie's kitchen will also be available, including a chicory liqueur drink evocatively dubbed Coffee & Cigarettes. Visit Jax's website to peruse the full menu, then make your reservations for the meal, $55, on Open Table.
Wednesday, April 10
Chef Carrie Baird of Bar Dough, 2227 West 32nd Avenue, is continuing to ride the wave of her 2018 appearance on Top Chef, and on Wednesday, April 10, she's reuniting with competitors Tu Phu and Chris Scott for the restaurant's second Top Chef Alum Dinner. There are two seatings (5:30 and 8 p.m.) for the family-style meal, and while we'd consider paying the $90 price tag just for Phu's two rabbit courses — a rabbit and foie gras bao bun and bunny braised in soy sauce and served with daikon, rice and scallions — there will be plenty of other delicious dishes served during the six-course meal, including crispy seared trout, a venison chop, and roasted yams with pecan and benne-seed granola. Reservations won't be accepted by phone; instead, visit the restaurant's Facebook page for details, then rush to Open Table to secure your spot before the meal sells out.
Urban Farmer, 1659 Wazee Street, is teaming up with Intrepid Sojourner Beer Project to close out the Craft Brewers Conference with a five-course beer dinner on Thursday, April 11. Starting at 5 p.m., the kitchen will be turning out sea bass ceviche with jicama and crisp pickled peppers, scallops sided by fennel soubise and cauliflower couscous, 7X Ranch wagyu flatiron steak with a creamy potato purée, and more. The brewery's inventively flavored beers (chamomile hefeweizen, basil IPA, barrel-aged quad and pomegranate-orange milkshake IPA) will accompany the plates, all for $75 per person. Visit the eatery's website for the complete menu and reservations.
The universe gives with one hand and takes away with the other: On Friday, April 12 — just a few days before Tax Day — comes National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day, and we have an ooey, gooey trio of specials that will slake your craving for cheddar, your jones for Jarlsberg, your lust for Limburger. Southsiders can make a quick trip to the Pint Room, 2620 West Belleview Avenue in Littleton, for its barbecue grilled cheese with scratch-made chips for just $10, while Boulder's West End Tavern, 926 Pearl Street, is doubling down with Grilled Cheese Month running through April 30. This week's offering is a deep-fried grilled cheese served with tomato jam; visit the bar's website to see what grilled cheese creations are coming up in the rest of the month. And downtown's Courier, at 1750 Welton Street, sells a four-cheese version that comes stuffed with braised-then-fried pork belly for an impressively decadent option that's worth the $14 price tag.
Keep reading for future food and drink events.
Saturday, April 13
The folks at Flatirons Food Film Festival generally put on their multi-day event in October, but they're starting early this year — by getting caffeinated at the inaugural Coffee Fest happening on Saturday, April 13, and Sunday, April 14. The weekend includes tastings, coffee-roasting demos, latte art lessons, Q&As and a screening of the documentary Caffeinated. Visit the film fest's website for details about the agenda and locations (Saturday's happenings take place in Lafayette, Sunday's in Erie) and ticket sales ($15 per day or $26 for the weekend, with a buck rebate if you show up with your own mug).
It's already time to start planning your spring garden dinners in the Mile High City. One of the first spring feasts to hit the table this year is on Friday, April 19, at Kingman Estates Winery, 800 East 64th Avenue. Chefs Samantha New (Éclat Culinary) and Brandon Becker (Cirque Kitchen and Spirits) are teaming up to turn out an impressive nine-course meal, with wine pairings crafted from grapes grown entirely in Colorado, from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Fresh ingredients like melon will be served with chicory, speck and riesling, while heavier courses of beef and morels with merlot will be accented with seasonal ramps. Tickets, $138, include tax and tip, with 10 percent of sales going to No Kid Hungry, and are on sale now on the winery's website, where you can get a peek at the entire menu.
Take an evening to support aspiring female chefs at Work Options for Women's Women Cook event on Monday, April 29. The culinary training program for hard-to-employ women offers three programs (all at no cost to participants) ranging from four weeks to two years long; the dinner presents a handful of the top names in Denver's professional kitchens coming together to cook at the Exdo Event Center, 1399 35th Street, to support their sisters just getting started in the food-service industry. Dana Rodriguez (Super Mega Bien, Work & Class), Caroline Glover (Annette), Carrie Baird (Bar Dough), Shelia Lucero (Jax Fish House) and Cindhura Reddy and Austin Nickel (Spuntino) are just a few ladies giving their time and considerable talents to the feast, so don't miss out on tickets, $125, on WOW's website.
Thursday, May 2
Good food, good cause: On Dining Out for Life day, restaurants donate 25 percent of sales (sometimes food, sometimes food and drink) to Project Angel Heart, which provides medically tailored meals for Coloradans living with serious and chronic illnesses. Thursday, May 2, marks the 25th year of the fundraiser, and more than 250 eateries will be participating. For a complete list of those restaurants — or to sign up your own place to join the effort — go to the Dining Out for Life website.
Save the date — Tacolandia will return to Civic Center Park, Broadway and Colfax Avenue, for a fourth year on Saturday, August 17, celebrating food, art, music and culture. Join us in honoring that great Mexican invention, the taco, in its many forms as presented by the city's top cantinas, taquerias and food trucks. Although tickets aren't yet on sale, get this on your calendar before your summer weekends start filling up, and watch westwordtacolandia.com for updates.
If you know of a date that should be on this calendar, send information to [email protected].