This weekend starts off with free doughnuts — and it only gets better from there. Here are the best of Denver's eating and drinking opportunities over the next three days, plus a wealth of events to book over the next few months.
Friday, June 7
Like the Pied Piper, the siren song of doughnuts is irresistible. Fans of the circular cakes will want to plan their morning commute carefully on Friday, June 7, in order to hit as many doughnut shops around town as possible, since a number of bakeries are rolling out free and discounted pastries in celebration of National Doughnut Day. For example, Dunkin' Donuts locations are offering a free doughnut with the purchase of a beverage, and Voodoo Doughnut, 1520 East Colfax Avenue, is selling the Homer (strawberry glazed with sprinkles) for a mere $1. Shamelessly pandering to the doughnut vote are Krispy Kreme and LaMar's, both of which are giving away free pastries with no purchase necessary. So chow down, and just hope that meeting you have scheduled at 10 a.m. isn't going to require your active participation, because you'll be experiencing the mother of all sugar crashes.
Employees who brave Denver traffic to labor thanklessly at their downtown desks have at least one reason to smile starting on Friday, June 7: They can sneak down to Skyline Beer Garden for a refreshing beverage that will help them swallow the bitter taste of wage slavery. Starting today, Skyline Park (at Arapahoe and 16th streets) will be open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. every Tuesday through Sunday through October 12 (weather permitting), with Colorado craft beer plus wine, cocktails and bites available. DJs and live bands will be performing on Friday and Saturday nights throughout the season, and yard games will be available when your inner child just can't cope with the spreadsheets anymore. Keep up to date on summer events via the Garden's Facebook page.
Saturday, June 8
Bigger isn't always better, especially when it comes to beer fests. It can be overwhelming to navigate thirty or more breweries — not to mention the tickets can get pricey, the crowds can be crushing and the hangovers from unlimited samples can be crippling. So we're loving Swallow Hill Music's Brewgrass music and beer festival on Saturday, June 8, with its tiny ticket price ($8 in advance, $10 at the door), just ten beverage producers (all excellent, including our favorites Dos Luces, Black Project, Platt Park and Bear Creek Distillery), and a well-curated selection of food trucks (Pierogies Factory, the Veggie Whisperer, Em's Ice Cream and Brava Pizzeria). Starting at 1 p.m., the 1200 block of South Pearl Street will be dedicated to food and drink vendors (you'll have to purchase your own bites and booze, but, hey — small hangover!), and music starts at 2 p.m. Find the full list of vendors and bands on Eventbrite, where you can also purchase your ticket in advance.
Our favorite cider festival of the year, the Pressed Fest, returns to Longmont on Saturday, June 8. From 2 to 6 p.m., Thompson Park, at 420 Bross Street, will host fifteen cideries pouring varieties ranging from ultra-dry to cotton-candy sweet and puckeringly tart to Parliament-Funkadelic-level rustic. Denver outfits Stem, Haykin and C Squared will be in attendance, along with Canadian producer Michel Jodoin and lesser-known Colorado brands the Old Mine, Clear Fork and Climb Hard Cider. With a relaxed vibe and tickets an exceptionally reasonable $30 on Two Parts' website, this fest justifies the drive to Longmont.
It wasn't enough that singer Trisha Yearwood has a pile of Grammy and Country Music Association awards; starting in 2008, she began rebranding herself as a domestic goddess by publishing three cookbooks and helming a Food Network series, Trisha's Southern Kitchen (we're still waiting for the equivalent from Yearwood's male contemporaries — Garth's Garage and Drill Bits? Alan Jackson's Angle Grinders?). On Saturday, June 8, Yearwood is bringing her down-home food to Broncos Stadium, 1701 Bryant Street, for a tailgate party prior to the Garth Brooks show starring her hubby. From 3 to 6 p.m., guests will get unlimited food, two drinks, cooking demos and yard games; tickets are $65 and on sale now at universe.com.
Sunday, June 9
If you missed out on tickets to Big Head Todd and the Monsters' sold-out performance at Red Rocks on June 8, you still have a chance to catch the eponymous Todd at Arcana, 909 Walnut Street in Boulder, on Sunday, June 9. Todd Park Mohr will perform a solo set at the restaurant, with a cocktail reception, silent auction and three-course dinner with drink pairings rounding out the evening. The fun starts at 6 p.m., and proceeds from the event go to Conscious Alliance, a national nonprofit working with artists and musicians to end hunger. You can snag your tickets, $185, on the organization's website.
Keep reading for future food and drink events.
Saturday, June 15
Despite the evolved price tag (tickets run a hefty $150 to $200), Heritage Fire Snowmass is the summer food fest that most appeals to our primal core. There aren't many aromas as evocative as wood smoke and roasting meat; it's the earliest — some would say purest — form of cooking, and it makes our mouths water like nothing else. Come Saturday, June 15, over fifty chefs and butchers (including Lon Symensma, Hosea Rosenberg, Steve Redzikowski and Adam Vero) will channel their inner cavemen (the list includes no cavewomen so far) and converge on Snowmass Base Village from 5 to 7:30 p.m., along with 2,500 pounds of whole heritage-breed animals, open fires and free-flowing wine, spirits and craft beer. Add the pristine mountain setting, and you've got an event that satisfies your soul and stomach on a fundamental level. Snag your tickets (and see what your favorite chef will be cooking) at Cochon555's website.
Denver chef Dana Rodriguez (Work & Class, Super Mega Bien) is taking a field trip to the museum — and you should join her. She's lighting up the kitchen at MCA Denver, 1485 Delgany Street, for its Dinner Society pop-up on Saturday, June 15. Guests will arrive at 6 p.m. to welcome drinks and a museum tour (which includes the brand-new exhibit Clark Richert in Hyperspace) before proceeding to the rooftop patio, where Rodriguez will serve four courses of her playful, Latin-influenced and always immaculately executed food. Beer pairings from Ratio Beerworks are included in the ticket price ($125); snatch up your seat at Eventbrite before dinner is sold out, and get ready for the tastiest night at the museum yet.
Thursday, June 20
Get ready for the Big Eat, the biggest celebration of local independent eateries in town. Over sixty restaurants, breweries and distilleries will gather in the outdoor galleria at the Denver Performing Arts Complex to put out unlimited food and drink pairings that reflect Denver's true food scene, with nary a campy Rocky Mountain oyster or national chain in sight. Instead, there will be mainstays that have been upping Denver's game for decades (Vesta, Duo, TAG) as well as newcomers bringing inspiration from across the globe (Liberati, Cirque Kitchen). While national chains are finally starting to look to our city as a viable market, we've had everything we need here all along — and the Big Eat proves it. Tickets are $65; get them and find out more at eatdenver.com.
Thursday, June 27
Nobody loves tacos more than we do — but can you eat $135 worth of them? If you can't, it's not for lack of opportunity at this year's Top Taco. The annual competition takes place on Thursday, June 27, at Stanley Marketplace, 2501 Dallas Street in Aurora, when more than fifty restaurants around town will go head-to-head to see who can serve the best iteration of the classic Mexican street food. There will be tacos for all tastes: street-style (Cilantro & Perejil, Adelitas, Las Delicias), crowd-pleasers (Uno Mas, Tacos Tequila Whiskey, Los Chingones) and WTF (Tupelo Honey, Syrup). Not only will tacos fill your tummy, but tequila and margs are also on tap. Still don't think you can stuff over a hundred bucks worth of food in your estómago? Not to worry: GA tickets start at $75 on the event website.
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Friday, July 19, through Sunday, July 21
Slow Food Nations appeals to everyone (except, perhaps, unrepentant fast-food aficionados). The international food fest kicks off its third year in town on Friday, July 19, and will run nearly forty chef demos, lectures, workshops, parties and dinners — plus the enormous Taste Marketplace, with over 100 vendors hawking their wares and handing out samples — through Sunday, July 21. About half the events taking place around town (but mainly around Larimer Square at Larimer and 14th streets) are free, but the rest require tickets, which start at $20. Visit the Slow Food Nations website to see the whole weekend's schedule and make sure you nab tickets for your can't-miss events.
Saturday, August 17
Tacolandia returns to Civic Center Park, Broadway and Colfax Avenue, for a fourth year on Saturday, August 17, celebrating food, art, music and culture. Join us in honoring that great Mexican invention, the taco, in its many forms as presented by the city's top cantinas, taquerias and food trucks, including Adelitas Cocina y Cantina, Antojitos La Poblanita, Carniceria Aaliyah, El Gallo Blanco, Issai's Catering, Kachina Cantina, La Fiesta, Los Chingones, Lucha Cantina, Mariscos El Rey 2, Los Mesones, Neveria Jedany's, Taco Block, Torta Grill, Yareth's, El Coco Pirata and more. Tickets, $25 for general admission or $55 for VIP, are now on sale at westwordtacolandia.com.
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