Best Happy Hour for Absolutely Free Food

Four Mile House

Four Mile House started life as a barn, back in the days when what's now Glendale was filled with dairy farms dedicated to quenching Denver's thirst for more wholesome beverages. But by the time Jack Casey bought the place in the '60s, it was already a venerable tavern. Four decades later, it continues to provide its fans with many happy hours. The happiest, though, run from 4 to 7 p.m. on Friday, when the appetizers are absolutely free. So, of course, is the unbeatable camaraderie.


Think there's no such thing as a free lunch? Think again. On weekends at Whole Foods Market in Cherry Creek, you can watch groceryland's most eclectic, entertaining crowd while snacking on enough bite-sized organic niblets to fill you up -- and then some. On any given Saturday, you'll find trays of sliced fruit, cups of deli delights or chunks of kalamata-laced bread, and to top it off, you're always free to sample from that Mediterranean Mecca known to shoppers as the Olive Bar. The only downside to this lovely Saturday-morning excursion is that the parking can get a trifle hairy, but at least you can build up your appetite while waiting for that gas-guzzling Mercedes SUV to back out.
Think there's no such thing as a free lunch? Think again. On weekends at Whole Foods Market in Cherry Creek, you can watch groceryland's most eclectic, entertaining crowd while snacking on enough bite-sized organic niblets to fill you up -- and then some. On any given Saturday, you'll find trays of sliced fruit, cups of deli delights or chunks of kalamata-laced bread, and to top it off, you're always free to sample from that Mediterranean Mecca known to shoppers as the Olive Bar. The only downside to this lovely Saturday-morning excursion is that the parking can get a trifle hairy, but at least you can build up your appetite while waiting for that gas-guzzling Mercedes SUV to back out.

Best Afternoon Free Hors D'oeuvres

Costco

CostCo
It's hard to explain the basic human urge to pursue microwave cheese puffs, cold cuts and toaster waffles, but admit it: You love the stuff. Since Costco sells items like these in mega-quantities, it hires food demonstrators to hand out tastes, and you can count on snacking on at least ten selections any afternoon of the week at this giant discount warehouse. Whether stuffing your face with such freebies will stop you from making impulse purchases -- a new set of tires, say, or a big-screen TV -- we can't say. But at least you won't be light-headed from hunger when you throw down your credit card.

Best Afternoon Free Hors D'oeuvres

Costco

It's hard to explain the basic human urge to pursue microwave cheese puffs, cold cuts and toaster waffles, but admit it: You love the stuff. Since Costco sells items like these in mega-quantities, it hires food demonstrators to hand out tastes, and you can count on snacking on at least ten selections any afternoon of the week at this giant discount warehouse. Whether stuffing your face with such freebies will stop you from making impulse purchases -- a new set of tires, say, or a big-screen TV -- we can't say. But at least you won't be light-headed from hunger when you throw down your credit card.
Since farmers' markets now abound throughout the metro area, ambience can be as big a draw as the more standard offerings -- and it's definitely the atmosphere that sets Pearl Street's market apart from all the rest. This is a small, friendly affair with a strong community vibe, where folks can nosh on pastries and gossip, parents can push strollers, and helmeted kids can try out their training wheels without fear of being run over. And like any outdoor market worth its peaches and tomatoes, the South Pearl Farmers' Market features dewy, farm-fresh produce and the kind of gorgeous cut flowers you usually find only in a backyard cutting garden, as well as homemade condiments, pastas and ice cream. Also in the community spirit, this year's market, which debuts in mid-June, will increase its emphasis on fundraising for nonprofits by including informational booths. But even without the feel-good causes, the market is a lovely place to spend a Sunday morning among friends and neighbors.
Since farmers' markets now abound throughout the metro area, ambience can be as big a draw as the more standard offerings -- and it's definitely the atmosphere that sets Pearl Street's market apart from all the rest. This is a small, friendly affair with a strong community vibe, where folks can nosh on pastries and gossip, parents can push strollers, and helmeted kids can try out their training wheels without fear of being run over. And like any outdoor market worth its peaches and tomatoes, the South Pearl Farmers' Market features dewy, farm-fresh produce and the kind of gorgeous cut flowers you usually find only in a backyard cutting garden, as well as homemade condiments, pastas and ice cream. Also in the community spirit, this year's market, which debuts in mid-June, will increase its emphasis on fundraising for nonprofits by including informational booths. But even without the feel-good causes, the market is a lovely place to spend a Sunday morning among friends and neighbors.


Tom Gillan's corn is fresh enough to eat uncooked, and here's why: "I literally wait at the end of the row while they're picking, load it into my truck and rush home," he says. Since it's hard to imagine a summer barbecue without fresh corn, and since it's harder still to find any such thing at the supermarket, Gillan's produce stand is a lifesaver. Located in front of his excellent plant nursery -- known for plants that can survive anything the Colorado climate throws at them -- the stand changes its offerings according to the ripeness of local fruit and vegetables, then sells them at less than farmers' market prices. Ah, summer!
Tom Gillan's corn is fresh enough to eat uncooked, and here's why: "I literally wait at the end of the row while they're picking, load it into my truck and rush home," he says. Since it's hard to imagine a summer barbecue without fresh corn, and since it's harder still to find any such thing at the supermarket, Gillan's produce stand is a lifesaver. Located in front of his excellent plant nursery -- known for plants that can survive anything the Colorado climate throws at them -- the stand changes its offerings according to the ripeness of local fruit and vegetables, then sells them at less than farmers' market prices. Ah, summer!


Forget the microwave burrito, the hurried Slim Jim, the ancient doughnut. When Lori's Deli whips up a custom egg sandwich or a Reuben, you'll vow never to go back to nasty road food again. Housed in a deli case at the back of a family gas station that's been going strong for more than eighty years, Lori's stocks only Boar's Head meats and makes every sandwich to order. You'll think you died and went to the Bronx -- until the friendly Western ambience convinces you otherwise.

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