There are simple pleasures (free doughnuts, a childhood movie classic) and not-so-simple pleasures (tasting menus set to a pop star's music, picking and choosing from a plethora of events on a wine festival's schedule) but there are no guilty pleasures in this edition of the culinary calendar — mostly because we don't believe in guilt. Here are ten food and drink events for the week of July 31, plus three more you'll want to put on your calendar.
Monday, July 31
Dunkin' Donuts may not be local, but the national chain is celebrating Colorado Day — at least within our state borders. August 1 marks the 141st anniversary of President Ulysses S. Grant admitting Colorado to the Union, and while Dunkin' has only been in Denver for a few years, it's hard to say no to something sweet for breakfast. From Monday, July 31, to Sunday, August 6, purchase a cold-brew coffee at any Dunkin' Donuts and get a free Bavarian cream-filled doughnut topped with the colors of the Colorado flag. Find the location closest to you at dunkindonuts.com — you know you want to.
It's Clam Month at Steuben's (and no, that's not a euphemism). The Uptown location of everyone's favorite comfort-food joint, 523 East 17th Avenue, is kicking off the celebration of bivalves with a Picnic on the Patio at 6 p.m. on Monday, July 31. For $70, Colorado natives and homesick East Coast natives alike can get five courses based on a traditional New England clambake, plus drink pairings. See the event Facebook page for details, and to reserve your spot, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are Michael Jackson fans and Michael Jackson apologists and Michael Jackson haters, but there's not one person who can deny the King of Pop's impact. From music to fashion to visual art, the man influenced global culture in a singular way, and on Monday, July 31, he will influence the food at Beast + Bottle's latest installment in its Musical Chairs Dinner. For $85 ($55 without wine pairings), guests at 719 East 17th Avenue will listen to 1987's Bad while dining on dishes inspired by key tracks. Liberian Girl pairs with snapper crudo, chile and cassava, while the title track will be accompanied by devil's food cake, ganache and a meringue "glove." Go to the event Facebook page for a complete menu, then call 303-623-3223 to guarantee your table.
Tuesday, August 1
The Tavern knows its market, and it's doubling down with the Fantasy Football Draft Party promotion that starts Tuesday, August 1, and runs through Wednesday, September 6. For five weeks, up to twelve fans can draft their picks at any Tavern location and receive unlimited draft beer for two hours for just $125. Reservations must be made in advance, so call 303-226-1555 to make sure you don't miss out — and once your table is secured, in the name of God and John Elway and everything that's holy, make sure you show up on time.
Wednesday, August 2
Remember when summer was magical and the perfect setting for searching out pirate treasure? If you're like most adults, those days are long gone, having been replaced by adult-type summer events like mowing the lawn and spraying for earwigs and spiders. But you can recapture some of that childlike wonder at Lala's Wine Bar + Pizzeria's showing of The Goonies on Wednesday, August 2, at 8 p.m. The free screening takes place across the street from Lala's at Governor's Park, 410 East 7th Avenue Parkway, but you can enjoy pizza, Peroni and wine beforehand on the eatery's patio. Doing the Truffle Shuffle can only earn you bonus points.
Thursday, August 3
Judges at the 2017 Governor's Cup Wine Competition have already done their due diligence: They've swirled, sipped and spat, and now you can be the lucky beneficiary of the fruits of their labors (grapes, of course). The Governor's Cup Tasting is taking over the History Colorado Center, 1200 Broadway, on Thursday, August 3. From the 325 entries, the judges have chosen the top twelve Colorado wines and ciders to pair with small plates at the tasting; the wineries include Bookcliff Vineyards, Infinite Monkey Theorem, Two Rivers Winery and the underrated Whitewater Hill Vineyards. The event kicks off at 7:30 and runs until 9:30 p.m., with VIP entrance starting an hour early. Find details at coloradowine.com and tickets ($45 or $75) at twoparts.com.
What's the best burger in Denver? It's an eternal question (and a very, very personal one — wars have been fought over less) and one that will likely never be solved, as hard as the Denver Burger Battle tries. But that doesn't mean you should skip the show on Thursday, August 3. The Tivoli Quad, 900 Auraria Parkway, will host sixteen competitors, ranging from classic local burger joints like My Brother's Bar and the Cherry Cricket to newcomers on the Denver dining scene (Departure, Concourse). You'll get unlimited burgers, drinks and desserts from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. for $70 (and early admission at 5:30 p.m. if you pony up $125), but tickets are going fast. Get yours at denverburgerbattle.com.
Friday, August 4
Sabor, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce's annual fundraiser, is celebrating its tenth year of bringing the food and drink of the Americas to Denver on Friday, August 4. As in past years, the celebration takes place at the Denver Botanic Gardens, 1007 York Street, where attendees will be able to stroll through the serene gardens while enjoying live music, unlimited food tastings and bottomless beer, spirits and wine from 6 to 9 p.m. Restaurants we're excited to see at the event include Chili Verde, the brand-new Antojitos Colombianos and Azucar Bakery. All tickets ($100 for GA to $250 for the "ultra VIP" experience — sure to be mind-bogglingly ultra) include entrance to the after-party at Privé at Dorchester, 1448 Market Street, for those who aren't ready to stop partying once the gardens go to bed. Find tickets and complete details at sabordenver.com.
Saturday, August 5
You can't drink all day if you don't start before noon. You'd think Sesh Fest would embrace this philosophy, but alas, the low-alcohol beer festival (all beers on tap will be 5 percent ABV or less) doesn't start until 3 p.m. on Saturday, August 5. We predict you'll still get your fill of beer, though, since it runs until 6:30 p.m. Some of our favorite breweries (Baere, TRVE, Ratio and Ska) will be there, and beer pong and cornhole will take over the lawn at the Highland Masonic Center, 3550 North Federal Boulevard. Ticket prices range from $24 to $30 per person, depending on how many fellow beer drinkers you can rustle up to accompany you (ticket packages of six or more ensure early entry). Head over to seshfest.com for details and tickets.
Denver loves its brunch, there's no doubt about it. Now there's a festival that brings the mid-morning meal to the next level: Denver BrunchFest. The Sunday, August 27, event takes everything iconic about brunching — the mimosas, the Bloody Marys, the endless waiting in epic lines, the plates weighed down by mountains of carbs — and transports it all to Civic Center Park, where $65 will get you three hours of unlimited bites and bottomless drinks. And good news, brunchers: The event starts at 11 a.m., so you can sleep in a bit. Tickets are available at eventbrite.com.
Keep reading for more events in August.
Wednesday, August 9, through Sunday, August 13
Mountain towns aren't cheap, but if you can swing it, there's nothing like a five-day celebration of wine and wilderness at the Steamboat Wine Festival, which runs from Wednesday, August 9, through Sunday, August 13. Events range from Wine on the Nine (golfing and drinking) to Trails and Tannins (hiking and imbibing) to Warrior and the Wine (yoga and...you get the idea) to Toast of Steamboat (the main tasting event). Tickets for individual events start at $85; steamboatwinefestival.com has a complete schedule and list of participating cellars and restaurants. Treat yourself and enjoy great wines in the great outdoors.
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Sunday, August 20
Tacolandia returns to Denver on August 20, and it will be bigger and better than ever, now in Civic Center Park! For $35 general admission, you get all the tacos you can eat from forty of Denver's best Mexican restaurants and taquerias. And a $75 VIP ticket gets you into the event an hour early, as well as special samplings from Jamey Fader of Lola Coastal Mexican. Find out more at westwordtacolandia.com.
Tuesday, September 5, through Sunday, September 10
Denver Food + Wine Festival is more than a month away, but if you're considering hitting any of the events this year, it's worth planning ahead. Early-bird tickets are now on sale, promising savings of $10 to $50 dollars, depending on what whets your appetite. And there are happenings for everyone, from the Culinary Cinema Series screening a film about barbecue to the Riedel Wine Glass Seminar (how very bougie of you) to the Grand Tasting and more. Take a look at denverfoodandwine.com for a complete schedule and tickets.
See the Westword calendar for even more food and drink events, and if you know of a date that should be on this calendar, send information to email@example.com.