Plan ahead for Harvest Week, explore African cuisine and culture, and celebrate a birthday this Labor Day weekend. Here are five of the most festive food and drink events from Friday, August 30, through Sunday, September 1, along with fundraisers, food and film fests, and feasts to plan ahead for.
Friday, August 30
Denver's Harvest Week doesn't begin until Sunday, October 6, but if you're interested in sitting down for any of the dinners that run through October 10, you'd better get your tickets immediately (two of the five dinners — October 6 and 9 — are already sold out). You can still get tickets for the rest of the multi-course meals for $85 (including drinks): dinners include a vegetarian meal with chefs from Luca, Urban Farmer, Acreage and the Regional; a zero-waste dinner from Super Mega Bien, Vesta and Bistro Vendôme; plus a straight-up eclectic meal combining the vastly different styles of Mercantile & Provision, Vine Street Pub, Rio Grande and Flagstaff House. Dinner is served at 6 p.m. at the GrowHaus, 4751 York Street; visit Harvest Week's website to nab your seat at the table before they've been gleaned like the fields after harvest time.
ViewHouse wants to turn your Labor Day into a four-day party, with food, drinks and festivities at its Littleton (2680 West Main Street) and Centennial (7101 South Clinton Street) restaurants. Start out at 6 p.m. on Friday, August 30, with viewing parties for the Rocky Mountain Showdown, the annual CU/CSU football game. Go old-school with a retro dance party beginning at 9 p.m. on Saturday, August 31, then dress up in all whites for an all-you-can-eat buffet brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Centennial ViewHouse on Sunday, September 1. Littleton's brunch that day is à la carte and also includes a White Out Work Out beginning at 9 a.m. in the courtyard. And if you're not worn out by then, there's a special à la carte brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Monday, September 2, at both locations. Visit the ViewHouse website for more details.
Saturday, August 31
It's a three-day weekend, so why not start brunching early? Dedicated diners and drinkers know one extra day to recover really just means one extra day to indulge. And on Saturday, August 31, all Snooze locations are luring you in with the power of pork. To celebrate National Bacon Day (sigh), the eatery is launching three special items. There's the Bacon it Easy cocktail (bacon-infused bourbon, peach simple syrup and lemonade), Bacon a Difference Benny (eggs Benedict with bacon-espresso jam, cream cheese Hollandaise and bacon instead of ham) and Sweet Swine O' Mine (flapjacks topped with bacon crumbles, bacon mascarpone and black pepper maple syrup); order any of the three items and 100 percent of sales will go to Cooking Matters Colorado, a nonprofit working with low-income families to help them learn to shop better and prepare healthier meals. We recommend you get to your local Snooze when the doors open; even after thirteen years in Colorado, the chain still draws massive morning crowds. But if you sleep in, well....don't come (s)whining to us about it.
You can get bacon at every bistro and barbecue in town, but what about sadza, fufu, dibi, poulet yassa, sega dinich or thieboudiene? These African dishes are scarce in Denver, but on Saturday, August 31, you can get a mouthful (and earful and eyeful) of African culture at the second Colorado Taste of Africa. From 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Utah Park, at 1800 South Peoria Street in Aurora, will host a gathering of Colorado's African diaspora, with food from Ethiopian Konjo Catering and West African Pikine Grill, African beer and wine, Ethiopian coffee, herbal tinctures, kids' drumming and dance lessons (moves courtesy of Cleo Parker Robinson), and vendors selling African crafts and fashion. Admission to the fest is free, and you're sure to find some new (or old!) favorite dishes at this celebration of the continent. Find out more on the event's Facebook page.
Sunday, September 1
Colorado's only sake tasting room has been open for just over a year now, and Colorado Sake Co., 3559 Larimer Street, is celebrating with sushi and sake on Sunday, September 1, from noon to 9 p.m. The taproom will release a batch of shochu, a distilled beverage, typically with a higher ABV than sake, made in collaboration with the Block Distilling Co., and mix sake Bloody Marys in addition to its usual suspects (including horchata-, pineapple chile-, lemongrass- and beet-flavored options) on tap. And because it's a special occasion, a sushi chef from Uchi will be turning out bites from 2 to 6 p.m. (that's quite an advanced palate for a toddler!). Find out more about the birthday bash on the taproom's Facebook page.
Keep reading for future food and drink events.
Wednesday, September 4, through Sunday, September 8
September brings cooler temps (we hope!), as well as the return of the annual Denver Food and Wine Festival. From Wednesday, September 4, through Sunday, September 8, restaurants around town will be turning out immaculately plated food, and the wine will be flowing freely. There are annual events (the Riedel wine glass seminar, good for those who want to appear über-sophisticated while sipping or just those who've broken the majority of their glassware at home, since you'll get a set of four glasses to take with you); bougie events (Dinner Under the Stars, this year taking place at our favorite Italian restaurant in a brewery, Liberati); crowd-pleasers (a patio party at Cattivella and the Bartender's Bash cocktail competition); the marquee event (the Grand Tasting, with over 700 wines and spirits, chef demos and food from forty top Denver restaurants); and a Sunday brunch (again at Liberati) that's sure to pave your way smoothly from hangover to Sunday Funday. Tickets run from $45 to $150 and are available on the festival's website.
Thursday, October 3
Get a jump on the weekend Thursday, October 3, with Vesta's annual Plates for the Peak fundraiser, which benefits Urban Peak, a nonprofit organization that provides housing, outreach and educational support for young people between the ages of fifteen and 24. From 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., the restaurant at 1822 Blake Street will host the casual event, with chefs from three of Denver's most beloved restaurants — good-times stalwarts Steuben's and Ace Eat Serve, along with their fine-dining big sister Vesta — turning out upscale American classics and excellent cocktails that will be sure to satisfy. Visit Urban Peak's website to purchase your tickets ($85 to $100, or spring for table service for groups of six or ten).
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Thursday, October 10, through Sunday, October 13
Flatirons Food Film Festival kicks off its seventh year on Thursday, October 10, and its program for the next four days is more wide-ranging than ever. This year's films shine a spotlight on immigrant and international cuisine, including a pair of films from Africa (Tazzeka from Morocco and Cook Off from Zimbabwe — we highly recommend a visit to one of the African Grill and Bar outposts prior to the screenings for a taste of the cuisine that's underrepresented in the Denver area). There will also be documentaries about Mexico's Diana Kennedy and a couple who traded in their city life for 200 acres of barren farmland; visual-art installations inspired by the films; interviews with chefs, sommeliers and farmers; and, of course, spreads of food from Japanese to Jewish deli. A festival pass will run you $90, with individual screenings and events starting at just $13 on the fest's website.
Thursday, October 24
Feast, Westword's annual celebration of the Denver restaurant scene, will make its delicious return to the McNichols Building on a new day and time: 7 to 10 p.m. Thursday evening. As always, though, Feast will be a true feast for the senses, with music, beverage samplings and dishes from more than forty favorite restaurants. Among those already signed on to sample their food are Uchi, Jackdaw, Milk & Cake, The Veggie Whisperer, Roaming Buffalo Bar-B-Q and more. This year, VIP ticket-holders will again be treated to a special menu, this year courtesy of the world-renowned Matsuhisa. Bites from Matsuhisa will include spicy tuna crispy rice, chicken gyoza, black cod miso in limestone lettuce, and more, as well as special VIP cocktails to complement the menu. VIP tickets also include early entry into the event at 6 p.m. and a VIP gift bag. Tickets are now on sale for $30 general admission, $55 VIP at westwordfeast.com.
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