Denver Food & Wine's Grand Tasting may be the swankiest event of the weekend, but if that's not your scene, there's no shortage of alternate good times to be had. Go casual at a (barn) dance party, an Oktoberfest celebration or a good old-fashioned barbecue — and that's just for starters. Here are eleven of the best events on the culinary calendar from September 8 through September 10.
Friday, September 8
Kick off the weekend by kicking up your heels at Great Divide's Bluegrass & Beer Barn Party on Friday, September 8. The brewery's River North location, 1812 35th Street, will be hosting the hoedown from 7 to 10:30 p.m. The eternal question, "Were you raised in a barn?" will be asked, and hopefully answered in the affirmative, as the night involves square dancing, miniature horses and farm fashion. Tickets are $15 at greatdivide.com and include three beers, though you can always upgrade to unlimited beers for $30. Boy howdy.
September means Oktoberfest! Toast those madcap Germans and their inability to read a calendar by hitting a version of the famed drinking event this week, starting with Oktoberfest at Lowry Beer Garden, 7577 East Academy Boulevard, on Friday, September 8, and Saturday, September 9. The kickoff party runs from 5 to 10 p.m. on Friday, and Saturday's fun kicks off at 11 a.m. with $20 getting you all-you-can-drink Oktoberfest beers, music and activities for the kids (of which there will be many; we think LBG has actually instituted a policy that adults must be accompanied by at least one child in order to be admitted). See the beer garden's website for details and a list of participating breweries.
Saturday, September 9
Hopdoddy Burger Bar, 1747 Wynkoop Street, is getting all breakfasty, at least for the next few Saturdays. The Union Station burger stop is launching a short breakfast menu to coincide with the Union Station Farmers' Market from Saturday, September 9, until October 28. From 8 to 10:30 a.m., enjoy breakfast sandwiches, boozy coffee and mimosas served from a booth at Hopdoddy's front entrance. Four bucks will land you an egg and grilled cheese sandwich on a toasted egg bun with bacon, chorizo or cherrywood-smoked ham. For a morning pick-me-up, sip a Corvus coffee spiked with Ricardo’s Coffee Liqueur for $6 or get your vitamin C with a $6 mimosa. Then head out to the Union Station plaza to face those farmers a little more fortified.
Coperta, 400 East 20th Avenue, is helping you get to know your farmers, too. Co-owners Aileen Reilly and Paul Reilly are launching a farmers' market lunch menu for a few lucky guests — twelve, to be exact. Sign up and you'll get to meet up with chef Paul at the Union Station Farmers' Market (1701 Wynkoop Street) for a tour and discussion of how he selects the best and most seasonal produce for the restaurant's menu. Then make tracks to Coperta at 2 p.m. for food and beverages in the company of local farmers who work with the restaurant. Each lunch will have a different featured vegetable, and for Saturday, September 9, it's tomatoes from Jim and Kristin Toohey of Toohey & Sons Organic in Hygiene, Colorado. The late lunch will offer three courses, each paired with a drink, for $65 per person (excluding tax and gratuity). Call Coperta at 720-749-4666 for a reservation or visit eventbrite.com. If you miss out on this week's lunch, mark your calendar for the next one on October 14.
Lakewood’s Belmar development will become Little Italy for two days during Festival Italiano, the western suburb’s annual celebration of pasta, pizza, vino and Italian culture. On Saturday, September 9, and Sunday, September 10, food, drinks, a marketplace and live music will all be part of the fun — and don’t miss the bocce tournament or the demonstration by an Italian flag-throwing troupe (think Renaissance Fair meets rhythmic gymnastics). The festival is free, but there’s a wine-tasting event both days for $50; details and tickets can be found at belmarcolorado.com. Day one of the festival runs from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., while day two ends at 5 p.m. Buon appetito!
Boulder County is big on celebrating diversity, as proven by La Fiesta: World Party, a celebration of many cultures put on as a fundraiser for Intercambio, an organization dedicated to building community and teaching English to recent immigrants. On Saturday, September 9, food trucks, bands and a world market with vendors selling art and artisan products will immerse guests in an international experience from 7 to 11 p.m. at the Boulder County Fairgrounds, 9595 Nelson Road in Longmont. Eat, dance and shop while embracing the “Think globally, act locally” concept. Tickets are $25 for adults and just $5 for kiddos twelve and under; purchase yours and get details at intercambio.org.
The premier event of Denver Food & Wine is here: The Grand Tasting opens its doors on Saturday, September 9 at 1 p.m., and there are still tickets available for all you procrastinators out there. Food lovers will converge on the grounds of the Pepsi Center, 1000 Chopper Circle, for food from over forty local restaurants; spirits, wine and beer galore; and chef demos from James Beard award-winning pastry chef Gale Gand. It's not cheap to get in (general admission will run you $125, VIP $250), but it comes with free parking, and in this town, that's worth its weight in gold-leaf-covered truffles. Pick up your tickets at denverfoodandwine.com.
If you're looking for a food festival but Denver Food & Wine is too expensive/crowded/plain-old-bougie for you, hop on I-70 and visit Frisco for the town's Fall Fest and Flavors of Frisco. From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, September 9, you'll get to stand in line, sip and sample, but it'll be mellower, Colorado-er, and way, way cheaper. Admission is free, but you'll need to buy food and drink tickets (a buck each) to indulge — and don't worry about buying too many, since participating restaurants will be honoring the tickets through Tuesday, September 12. Some of the tents lining Main Street include Backcountry Brewery, Prosit and the Lost Cajun, so there's something for everyone. Get details at townoffrisco.com. And the best part about this little celebration? Your furry family members are welcome, so load the labradoodle into the Subaru and don your fleece before taking off for the mountains. We told you it was quintessential Colorado.
It's possible that someone — somewhere — would like to go to a beer festival but not sample every single beer. We don't know that person, but if you're such a mythical unicorn, the Lafayette Brew Fest is your event. Perhaps the only beer fest in town with no entrance fee, samples are instead $2 for each four-ounce pour, or less if you buy tokens ahead of time. The shindig runs from 2 to 7 p.m. on Saturday, September 9, outside Lafayette Florist and Greenhouses, 600 South Public Road. Wine and food (including Sammy's Fried Cheese and a vendor that really gets its demographic, Suburban Wiener) will be on sale while you enjoy suds from Eddyline Brewing, Stem Ciders and the Post Brewing Company, among others. Check it out at lafayettecolorado.com.
Barbecue is typically paper-plate food with simple sides and a pile of sliced white bread to mop up all the sauces. But chef Justin Brunson of Old Major and John Tesar of Element Kitchen & Cocktail are planning something a little more special than a backyard cookout — and it will benefit a good cause. Join the chefs at the Infinite Monkey Theorem Urban Winery, 3200 Larimer Street, on Saturday September 9, for the winery's fall harvest kickoff and fundraiser for the University of Colorado's Cancer Research Center. The two chefs will be cooking up some smoked California-style tri-tips, Texas-style hot links, barbecued pork belly, tomato salad, pole-bean salad and assorted pickles. IMT will chip in with a few new wines, including dry-hopped sauvignon blanc, 2016 Colorado malbec and 2016 Colorado cabernet franc. Music from Ejay the DJ will keep guests entertained on the IMT patio, and there will also be a silent auction to benefit the research center. The fun runs from 6 to 9 p.m., and tickets, at $40 per person, can be purchased on IMT's website.
Sunday, September 10
If you're a fisherman, you know the fishing season for Pacific Northwest salmon comes to an end this month. To celebrate, chefs from all four Colorado Jax Fish House locations are collaborating on the Harvest Moon Salmon Bake on Sunday, September 10. Dinner will be served from 5 to 9 p.m. outdoors at Fossil Creek Farms, 7100 Silver Mist Lane in Fort Collins, where the four-course menu will focus on salmon roasted over an open bonfire. Also on the menu: golden beet and buttermilk soup; acorn and kuri squash hash; and cake with corn custard and peaches. Tickets are $90 and include wine, cocktails and beer from Horse & Dragon Brewing Company; get yours at jaxfishhouse.com.
If you're the planning type, keep reading for more food and drink events in the future...
Thursday, September 14, through Sunday, September 17
Fall is grape-harvesting season in the Centennial State, and it seems every mountain town is celebrating the season with a wine festival in August and September. From Thursday, September 14, through Sunday, September 17, it's Breckenridge's turn to lure the bikers, hikers and drinkers up the hill with gorgeous fall weather and great wines at the Breckenridge Wine Classic. There are luncheons, seminars, tours, hikes, tastings and bike rides to be had — all of them geared toward highlighting the beverage of honor. The best part about Breckenridge's celebration? Its proximity to Denver: You'll barely have to spend ninety minutes commuting to feel like you're in a different world (though the drive back to Denver might be a different story). A full schedule is up, and tickets ($55 to $145) are on sale now at breckenridgewineclassic.com.
Wednesday, September 27 through Sunday, October 1
Boulder's Flatirons Food Film Festival is turning five this year; in its relatively short history, it has built a following based on movies packed with images of cameras slowly panning over gorgeously plated food and earnest chef interviews — in short, food porn. This year's lineup doesn't disappoint: From documentaries about the legendary James Beard to a con man scamming the high-end wine market to foodie classics like Ratatouille and Eat Drink Man Woman, the festival has something for everyone. You can even get your little ones involved with a farmers' market tour and cooking demo geared toward kids. Most events are $10, and a pass for the entire festival is a steal at just $65. Check out flatironsfoodfilmfest.org for details.
Tuesday, October 3, and Wednesday, October 4
The Den brothers are throwing a party, and you'll want to add it to your social calendar. On Tuesday, October 3, and Wednesday, October 4, the roof of the parking garage at the corner of South Pearl Street and East Florida Avenue will turn into a veritable Japanese street fair from 5 to 9 p.m. Not only will Toshi and Yasu Kizaki be providing food from Sushi Den, Izakaya Den and Ototo, but they've called on twenty of their Japanese chef friends to hop the pond and lend their talents to the rooftop party. Expect ramen, yakisoba noodles, the hard-to-find-in-Denver okonomiyaki, yakiniku (Japanese barbecue) and lots, lots more. Tickets are $75 and include three drinks (additional beverages will be available for purchase). As with every party the Kizakis host, this one is likely to sell out, so check out sushiden.net asap for details and tickets.
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Friday, October 13
Everyone knows that fall is the season for heavier things — sweaters, socks and drinks. One of our favorite fall and winter pastimes (and make no mistake, winter is coming) is enjoying a generous pour of whiskey and a cigar by a crackling fireplace. Bonus points if there's a bear-skin rug on the floor. So prepare for the season by tasting and testing a wealth of whiskeys at the WhiskyX on Friday, October 13, from 7 to 10 p.m. Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum, 7711 East Academy Boulevard, will host more than fifty whiskeys, and VIP ticket holders will have access to food from premier Denver chefs Elise Wiggins (Cattivella), Jennifer Jasinski (Ultreia, Euclid Hall, Rioja, etc.) and Paul C. Reilly (Beast + Bottle and Coperta). Tickets ($75 or $125) are on sale now at thewhiskyx.com.
Sunday, October 15 Through Thursday, October 19
The temperature has dropped, which means it's the perfect time to start planning for EatDenver's 2017 Harvest Week! This year, the dinners will highlight two to three farms per night, representing Colorado’s most verdant farm regions: The lineup: October 15, Western Slope; October 16, Front Range; October 17, Eastern Plains; October 18, Four Corners; October 19, Urban Farm. All dinners are at the GrowHaus, 4751 York Street, and tickets, $85, are now on sale at harvestweek.com.