Milk Market has something for everyone.EXPAND
Milk Market has something for everyone.
Danielle Lirette

The Seven Best Events on the Culinary Calendar This Weekend

It's the time of year to get off your couch and get outdoors. But we don't mean going hiking or trekking up to the mountains — why would we waste time in physical activity when there are so many outdoor food and drink events primed to take advantage of this weekend's sunny forecast? Settle into an outdoor bar, wander along food-truck-lined streets or plant some herbs. Here are the seven best culinary events from Friday, June 1, through Sunday, June 3, 2018.

The Garden doesn't have much greenery, but it has a great view.EXPAND
The Garden doesn't have much greenery, but it has a great view.
Elliot Clark

Friday, June 1
National Doughnut Day has finally arrived! On Friday, June 1, bakeries around town are handing out free pastries, and we've done the hard work of figuring out where you can go for glazed goodies. Of course, all Dunkin' Donuts locations are giving away a free classic doughnut with the purchase of any beverage, while LaMar's Donuts around town are offering a free pastry to anyone who comes in with a ticket printed from the company's website. Other bakeries are making it a bit easier; no purchase or ticket is required to get an OC Sand doughnut at Fractured Prune Doughnuts, and Krispy Kreme gives you the run of the menu when it comes to choosing your flavor. So set the alarm bright and early for your crack-of-dawn sugar rush.

Frank Bonanno's Milk Market food court has been eagerly awaited for months, and the day is finally here. Friday, June 1, marks the opening day of the food hall at 1800 Wazee Street. It's jam-packed with the restaurateur's concepts; both the familiar (Lou's Hot Chicken, Salt & Grinder, Bonanno Bros. Pizzeria) and the new (FEM Crepes, gelato from Cornicello and the ubiquitous poke from MoPoke) co-exist in a single space. The opening weekend is packed with events: a photo booth, puppy yoga, free milkshakes and live music for Sunday brunch. Visit the Market's Facebook page for a complete schedule.

The team behind Death & Co., the bar at The Ramble Hotel, 1280 25th Street, is taking advantage of Denver's sunny days to open a cozy summer bar on the hotel's mezzanine patio. The Garden opens its doors at 4 p.m. on Friday, June 1, with a separate menu from its downstairs sibling and a focus on classic and tropical cocktails. As long as the heavens don't open and the weather's palatable, the Garden will be open at 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.

2017's Truck Stop brought out fans of trucks and food.
2017's Truck Stop brought out fans of trucks and food.
Brandon Marshall

Saturday, June 2
Civic Center Eats is the best-known food-truck rodeo in town, but if you don't work in downtown Denver, it's nearly impossible to wrangle a few hours away for lunch — not to mention parking in Capitol Hill. Luckily, Truck Stop, a weekend food-truck rally, is taking over Five Points from 1 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, June 2 — so even if you commute to the hinterlands during the week, you can enjoy the wealth of food offered by more than thirty trucks. There's an entire truck dedicated solely to funnel cake, for God's sake — how can you pass that up? Admission to the rally (on Welton Street between 25th and 29th streets) is free, though dedicated eaters who plan on staying for the duration of the feast may want to pony up $25 for a Pit Stop Pass, which entitles them to bottomless booze from 4 to 8 p.m. Find out more on the event's website.

If you haven't hit Old Major, Bar Dough or Señor Bear recently, take a shortcut by attending the Colorado Culinary Challenge on Saturday, June 2, when chefs Justin Brunson, Max MacKissock and Blake Edmonds, as well as Tobias Burkhalter of Corinne and Nikki Baldacci of Coohills, will be cooking up a storm at Le Méridien, 1475 California Street, to benefit the James Beard Foundation. Starting with a reception at 6 p.m., diners will be treated to a luxe four-course meal with cocktail pairings for $124. Snag tickets for this epic dinner at Eventbrite.

Rebel Restaurant, at 3763 Wynkoop Street, is one of our favorite places in town for all sorts of animal parts; its constantly changing menu has offered up tripe poutine, pig ear biscuits, beef heart tartare and an entire pig head (eyeballs and teeth intact). On Saturday, June 2, Rebel is going straight for your funny bone, with a night of free comedy starting at 10 p.m. Jake Flores, Samantha Ruddy, Zeke Herrera and Olivia Schyling will take the stage while the audience takes advantage of specials on tamer fare: wings, which the adventurous eatery only serves once a month. Get there early to take advantage of unusual cocktails by the talented bar staff; a recent visit resulted in a Mexican coffee cocktail that blew our socks off.

Lavender is used to treat anxiety, insomnia and depression.EXPAND
Lavender is used to treat anxiety, insomnia and depression.

Sunday, June 3
If you've got a green thumb but no garden, you can still cultivate your Mother Earth vibe this summer by growing herbs. Tasty and versatile, many varieties are easy to grow and thrive in pots — and if you're especially interested in growing plants for medicinal purposes, visit Sharona Thompson's Medicinal Herbs Plant Sale on Sunday, June 3. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Thompson's urban homestead at 1870 South Raritan Street will have  forty types of medicinal and culinary herbs for sale (including horehound, rue, skullcap and calendula), along with herbal medicine classes and raffle prizes. Visit Facebook for a complete list of available plants, and start sharpening your gardening shears.

Keep reading for future food and drink events.

Wings & Whiskey knows what you need: wet wipes.EXPAND
Wings & Whiskey knows what you need: wet wipes.
Mark Antonation

Sunday, June 10
Hot on the heels of Chicken Fight! comes another fowl food event, this time at Ace Eat Serve: Wings & Whiskey. What can we say? People love the bird. Ace Eat Serve, 501 East 17th Avenue, is hosting the event for the fifth year, and after last year's sellout bash, we expect this one to be bigger and birdier than ever. Music by Buffalo Wingmen will set the stage for the wing-eating contest, whiskey cocktails and, of course, unlimited wings from eight Denver chefs. The fun starts at 4 p.m. (3 p.m. if you opt for VIP tickets that also entitle you to an open whiskey bar); snap up your tickets, $55 or $75, at Ace's website.

Heritage Fire Snowmass is the more outdoorsy, less crowded little sibling of Cochon555.EXPAND
Heritage Fire Snowmass is the more outdoorsy, less crowded little sibling of Cochon555.
Heritage Fire by Cochon555

Saturday, June 16
If you're curious about the luxury food festival Cochon555 but the prospect of being packed into a hotel ballroom so tightly your drink spills every time someone next to you takes a deep breath makes you itch, you might fare better at Heritage Fire Snowmass, Cochon's outdoor version of the whole-animal competition. Chefs from all over the country will set up camp at Snowmass Base Village, 120 Carriage Way, to cook more than 3,000 pounds of beef, pork, lamb, rabbit, duck, fish and goat over open fires on Saturday, June 16, from 4 to 7:30 p.m. Guests will enjoy the fresh air, smell of woodfire and unlimited food and drink. Snag your tickets ($150 to $200) at cochon555.com before they're gone.

There's no shortage of salumi at Cochon555.EXPAND
There's no shortage of salumi at Cochon555.
Danielle Lirette

Sunday, June 24
Those who don't mind the crowds and revel in seeing and being seen at the summer's hottest food event won't want to delay in buying their tickets for Cochon555, the pork-centric food festival happening on Sunday, June 24. Competitions started in NYC in January and have been popping up in major food cities across the country before they wrap up here at the Renaissance Denver Stapleton Hotel, 3801 Quebec Street. Competing chefs Brother Luck (Four by Brother Luck), Adam Brantz (Ultreia), Cindhura Reddy (Spuntino), Kyle Foster (Julep) and Nate Singer (Blackbelly Butcher) will each create the most delectable and luxurious bites using a heritage-breed hog, while winemakers and bartenders keep the booze flowing. Tickets, $130 to $200, are on sale now at Cochon's website.

Last summer's Den Rooftop Party.EXPAND
Last summer's Den Rooftop Party.
Danielle Lirette

Tuesday, June 26, and Wednesday, June 27
If ever there was a culinary power duo that could pull off a bash with an all-star lineup and sellout crowds on a Tuesday, it's Toshi and Yasu Kizaki, the chef and owners of Izakaya Den, Ototo and Sushi Den. This year's rooftop party takes place on Tuesday, June 26, and Wednesday, June 27, on the roof of Sushi Den's parking garage at 1501 Pearl Street. From 6 to 10 p.m., visiting Japanese chefs will be cooking up yatai, street food commonly found at festivals, while Denver chefs Alex Seidel, Paul Reilly and Troy Guard will join the fun by making their own interpretation of those dishes. Find out more about the party at sushiden.net and pick up tickets, $90 or $110, at Eventbrite.

2017's Top Taco boasted all kinds of fillings.
2017's Top Taco boasted all kinds of fillings.
Danielle Lirette

Thursday, June 28
If it's summer in Colorado, there must be a taco festival just around the corner. Celebrate the world's perfect food (compact, handheld, delicious) at Top Taco on Thursday, June 28. This year, the fiesta is moving from RiNo to Stanley Marketplace, 2501 Dallas Street in Aurora, where unlimited tacos, booze and parking await attendees (okay, the parking won't be unlimited, but it will be a hell of a lot better than previous years). Tickets are $75 to $135 on eventbrite.com; snap yours up before the event sells out.

Go big or go home at The Big Eat.EXPAND
Go big or go home at The Big Eat.
Danielle Lirette

Thursday, July 12
How much would you pay for bites from 65 of Denver's top restaurants? Could you even fit 65 bites into your belly? Now's your chance to find out; on Thursday, July 12, the Big Eat returns to the Denver Performing Arts Complex at 14th and Curtis streets for a food festival of epic proportions. For just a buck per bite — that's right, $65 — guests will get food from Denver's best as well as unlimited drinks. Bar Helix, the Bindery, Tavernetta and Low Country Kitchen are just a few of the restaurants making an appearance at this blowout. Go to eatdenver.com for a complete list of participating restaurants and tickets.

If you know of a date that should be on this calendar, send information to cafe@westword.com.

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