Vegetarians can stop reading now: This weekend is packed with pork, brimming with beef and loaded with lamb. From gyros to barbecue to burgers to fried chicken, there's no escaping meat this weekend. Here are eight of the best events on the culinary calendar over the next three days, as well as tasty upcoming events.
Friday, June 15
The Denver Greek Festival got its start as a modest church fundraiser in 1963, selling handcrafts, canned goods and homemade pastries and bread. More than half a century later, it draws over 25,000 revelers to Assumption of the Theotokos Greek Orthodox Cathedral at 4610 East Alameda Avenue. Kicking off at 11 a.m. on Friday, June 15, and running through 6 p.m. on Sunday, June 17, this year's fest boasts a sumptuous food spread, from the familiar (gyros, spanikopita) to the less so (loukoumathes, keftedes). Wash it all down with ouzo or a bottle of Greek wine — yes, you can buy a whole bottle, which automatically makes this our fave fest of the summer — then stick around for live music and dancing, cathedral tours and shopping. Admission is just $3; find out more on the Denver Greek Festival website.
Frisco's got a quarter-century of good ’cue on the books, and this year's Colorado BBQ Challenge promises to be another smokin' weekend. The fest kicks off on Friday, June 15, at 11 a.m. and runs through Saturday, June 16, at 6 p.m., with more than seventy competitors vying for supremacy in categories like chicken, pig parts (shoulders and ribs), brisket, sauce, sides and desserts. There will also be the Bacon Burner 6K race, a firefighter cookoff, Breckenridge distillery tours and, of course, the famous pig races. Admission is free, though you'll have to cash in your greenbacks for hogbacks if you want to sample the goods, and the race and distillery tour will cost you some of that bacon you brought home. Find out more at townoffrisco.com and get ready for one of Colorado's most beloved barbecue traditions.
Floundering for a Father's Day gift? Stop by BookBar, 4280 Tennyson Street, to pick up a present for Pops that's really a present for you. On Friday, June 15, from 7 to 9 p.m., Barbecue Hall of Fame member and five-time James Beard Award winner Steven Raichlen will be on hand promoting his 31st tome on cooking over fire, Project Fire. For $28, guests will receive barbecue, beer and a copy of the cookbook, which they can promptly gift to Pops, ensuring they never again suffer an overcooked pork chop at the hand of their progenitor. Find out more and buy tickets at the BookBar website.
Colorado has an embarrassment of riches this weekend — at least when it comes to barbecue. While the aforementioned Colorado BBQ Challenge will bring out the Colorado's cream of the crop, the Denver BBQ Festival boasts pit masters from across the country: Joints from Tennessee, St. Louis, Mississippi and Texas (Colorado's lone representation is GQue Championship Barbecue) will take over Sports Authority Field at Mile High, 1701 Bryant Street, from Friday, June 15, through Sunday, June 17. While admission is free on Saturday and Sunday — you just pay for your pig — there are VIP passes available for a truly baffling range of prices ($75 to $125...we think). Visit denverbbqfest.com to try and decipher the code. True ’cue aficionados will want to plan their weekend carefully so they can hit both sausage fests.
Saturday, June 16
There's no light without dark, no good without evil, no fancy food festival (see below) without its egalitarian counterpart. On Saturday, June 16, Park Burger and 10 Barrel Brewing are taking over the block outside the burger joint's RiNo location, 2615 Walnut Street, to put on a food fest for the masses. From 1:30 to 8 p.m., bands, beer and burgers will be happening. Tickets start at $15 for entry and go up to $50 for unlimited booze and one of Park Burger's ground beef creations; get them at Denver Deluxe's website.
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. Both GA and VIP tickets ($150 and $200) are still available at cochon555.com.
Sunday, June 17
Everyone loves fried chicken, but that's not why we're recommending taking your dad to The Post Brewing Co. on Sunday, June 17. And while all four locations of the poultry palace are serving Father's Day specials (smoked brisket and prime rib hash), that's not why we're sending you there, either. No, we base our recommendation on two words: Plastic Chevy. The $3 drink special consists of a shot of Jack Daniel's and a gravy back — how can you resist the opportunity to knock back a shot of bourbon and follow it with a slippery, savory, salty swallow? Cheers!
Does Dad have more lofty ideas about how to spend Father's Day? El Five will be hosting a special brunch, complete with a tapas and pinchos bar, brunch cocktails and myriad sweets. Breathtaking city and mountain views are included in the $55 ticket. Make reservations at elfivedenver.com or call 303-524-9193.
Keep reading for future food and drink events.
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 and will 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 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.
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 is expanding to two days: 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.
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 at eventbrite.com; snap yours up before the event sells out.
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.
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Sunday, August 19
Westword's Tacolandia returns to Civic Center Park, Broadway and Colfax Avenue, with more than forty of Denver's favorite Mexican restaurants and taco joints serving their takes on street tacos (or as they're known to non-hipsters: tacos). Enjoy unlimited samples and lots of live entertainment. For complete information, go to westwordtacolandia.com. This isn't a competition; it's a celebration — so come hungry and get ready for a wide variety of great Mexican eats, from the smallest mom-and-pop shops to the city's most popular cantinas.
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