It's time to get back to the basics: This weekend, we start at the beginning of the alphabet with alleys, agriculture, art, Argentines and avocado toast. Here are the seven best food and drink events from Friday, April 6, through Sunday, April 8, as well as upcoming events to put on your culinary calendar.
Friday, April 6
The massive Dairy Block project downtown is taking advantage of the Rockies' home opener to hit its own home run: the Alley at the Dairy Block. Starting at 10 a.m. on Friday, April 6, the narrow space between Wazee, Blake, 18th and 19th streets — now tricked out with art, mirrors and music — will be your home base while you explore Poka Lola Social Club's Season Opener party (RSVP at eventbrite.com), where you'll find a Bloody Mary bar and $2 hot dogs, or Southwestern food from Kachina Cantina. Wait a few hours, and Milk Market, the food court slated to open on the Dairy Block this summer, will set up on Wazee Street to hand out complimentary wieners and bottled water from noon until 2 p.m. Dairyblock.com has the details on the day's events.
Common wisdom dictates you shouldn't have any uni-taskers in your kitchen; every appliance and every tool should have more than one use. We subscribe to this philosophy, not least when it comes to dinnerware: If you're dedicating precious cabinet space to house plates and bowls, they'd better also make you happy when you look at them. Enter the Art Students League of Denver's delecTABLE, a juried ceramics exhibition opening on Friday, April 6. While the show at 200 Grant Street will be free to the public through Friday, May 18, get an early look at the Preview and Purchase Party, which runs from 6 to 9 p.m. on opening day. For $10, you'll get entry, one drink and the first chance to purchase any art that strikes your fancy. With prices beginning at just $25, you might even be able to snag more than one place setting. Find out more at ASLD's website.
Saturday, April 7
Along with the swallows' return to Capistrano and spring break on South Padre Island, the opening of farmers' markets is a sure sign of the season. On Saturday, April 7, the Boulder and Longmont markets will be the first to usher in spring as they open bright and early at 8 a.m. Boulder blocks off 13th Street between Canyon Boulevard and Arapahoe Avenue in order to host its vendors, and the north parking lot of Boulder County Fairgrounds (9595 Nelson Road) hosts Longmont's edition. And while the veggie pickings may be sparse this early in the year, there's no season for kombucha or food trucks. Details are at bcfm.org, including info about when the Union Station, Lafayette and Boulder's Wednesday markets will open and a full list of vendors.
What do you get when you combine pastel clothing, a sport played by rich people with sticks, and mixed drinks consumed out of fancy vessels? The most inebriated yet stylish event in the history of sports, of course. The Mule Majors have arrived in Denver, and on Saturday, April 7, the Sports Castle, at 1000 Broadway, is hosting what's sure to be a swarm of hipsters for the mini-golf and Moscow mules mashup. As you putt your way across nine holes, you'll be judged on your attire and your ability to hold your liquor as you sample unlimited cocktails. Small bites from the likes of Ohana Grille, Roll It Up Sushi Truck and Ba-nom-a-nom will also be on hand to soak up the booze. Tickets for the front nine (1 to 4 p.m.) or the back nine (6 to 9 p.m.) start at $65, with VIP, $85, entitling you to, well, entitlement in the form of oh-so-exclusive drinks and food and a members-only golf course in the VIP lounge. Register for the tourney at the Mule Majors website.
The chefs cooking at Chef's Table Colorado on Saturday, April 7, are some of Denver's best. Justin Brunson (Old Major), Elise Wiggins (Cattivella), Bill Minor (Il Porcellino), Goose Sorensen (the late, great Solera) and Zoe Deutsch (Hinman's Bakery) are among the talent showing up at Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum, 7711 East Academy Boulevard, from 6 to 9 p.m. to dazzle you with unlimited bites and beverages to raise funds for Denver Urban Scholars, which provides mentoring and academic support for high-performing low-income students from middle school through college. Get your ticket, $125, at chefstableco.com, where you'll also find a full roster of participating chefs.
Sunday, April 8
THIS EVENT IS POSTPONED UNTIL APRIL 22. Tired of the tedious trek to your standard brunch destination for the same eggs and bacon dishes you've had every Sunday for the past six weeks? Fish N Beer, 3510 Larimer Street, is usually locked up tight during brunch hours, but this Sunday, April 8, the crew will serve a one-day-only brunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. While the normally seafood-heavy fish house won't serve an entirely aquatic brunch, you'll be able to fill up on Potato N Lox (kind of like hash browns with thin-sliced smoked salmon) or Octopus N Avocado toast with braised tomatoes and scallions. For something more fowl than fish, there will be a dish called the Dirty Bird Benedict, which turns out to be buttermilk biscuits topped with fried chicken breast, cheddar cheese and habanero Hollandaise. While you'll have to spring for your own entrees and drinks, the restaurant will pass out complimentary house-baked sweet treats and pastries.
Everyone has that friend who decides that their birthday is an excuse to demand free drinks for an entire week. Hell, maybe you're that friend (do what you gotta do to get free booze, we always say). Maria Empanada is celebrating four years at its 1298 South Broadway location on Sunday, April 15, but you won't mind the week of celebrations that kick off on Sunday, April 8 (which also happens to be National Empanada Day). Argentinian band Abel y Sus Gauchos will provide live music from 4 to 6 p.m., and $4 sangria, mimosas and empanaditas (pastry-wrapped fruit) will be available all day. The rest of the week is packed with specials including $4 for a medialuna (a sweet croissant-like pastry) and cafe con leche; free salsa and tango lessons; a tarta Victoria (Argentinian-style cheesecake) and coffee for $5; and a flamenco performance. See the eatery's Facebook page for a complete schedule; we promise you won't regret celebrating Maria's birthday for a week.
Keep reading for future food and drink events.
Tuesday, April 10
Welcome to spring in Colorado: The weather is vacillating wildly between sunny patio temperatures and heavy, wet snowstorms, and we're all weary of winter squash and the unrelentingly brown and gray Denver landscape. Bring on the green Tuesday, April 10, when Fly by Night, a partnership of chefs Ben Whelan and Blake Stine (both alumni of Frank Bonnano's restaurants) will put on a pop-up dinner at The GrowHaus, 4751 York Street, to benefit Emily Griffith Technical College's Culinary Quick Start program. You'll be surrounded by sprouts while dining on a five-course dinner inside a working greenhouse; the menu feels equally springy, boasting a veggie terrine with pea shoots and dill foam, roasted chicken with egg-yolk jam, and grapefruit cake with white chocolate. Dinner includes beverages and will run you $75; make your reservations to banish the vestiges of winter at Fly by Night's website.
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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.
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 accommodation 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 the over 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-$200), and single-day tickets ($70-$75) go on sale June 13 at 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.