Things to Do

The Best Food and Drink Events for Fourth of July Weekend

Blackbelly's new barbecue menu debuts Saturday, July 4.
Blackbelly's new barbecue menu debuts Saturday, July 4. Courtesy Blackbelly
With the vast majority of fireworks displays canceled this year, Fourth of July fare is a more important element of Independence Day celebrations than ever. Whether you're cooking in your back yard or stimulating the economy by dining out (who knew dropping a Benjamin on brews and brats at a bar would variously be considered an act of patriotism, a political statement or an expression of utter selfishness?), there's a holiday happening to suit your style on Saturday, as well as other events throughout the weekend.

And keep reading for other reasons to celebrate in the coming days.

click to enlarge The Reminders perform at Stanley Marketplace this weekend. - BRANDON THRIFT
The Reminders perform at Stanley Marketplace this weekend.
Brandon Thrift
Friday, July 3
If your previous experiences with Fourth of July celebrations only include John Philip Sousa, fireworks and Lee Greenwood, you've been doing America wrong. On Friday, July 3, and Saturday, July 4, Aurora's Stanley Marketplace (2501 Dallas Street) is hosting a gathering that aims to celebrate the differences in skin color, language, background, identity and tastes that makes the U.S. a fascinating (and often delicious) place to live. From 5 to 9:30 p.m., groups of up to ten people can spread out in ten-by-ten-foot picnic spaces in the sprawling field just west of the Stanley and enjoy entertainment from drag queens, comics, religious leaders, tap-dancing troupes and musicians who most definitely aren't channeling militaristic marches or mid-’80s ’Muricanism. Entry is $30 per person ($15 for kids), with the option to add on a meal from Comida, Mondo Market or Rolling Smoke Barbecue at the time of purchase ($18 for adults, $10 for kids). You can buy drinks on site; visit Eventbrite for a full entertainment lineup as well as menus and event details.

Boulder night owls looking for late-night dining more sophisticated than greasy slices of pizza and soggy subs washed down by foamy pints of Coors Light will want to visit Cafe Aion, 1235 Pennsylvania Avenue, which has just launched Night Moves. The Spanish-influenced eatery's answer to the dining habits of actual Spaniards consists of a four-course prix fixe meal available on Friday and Saturday nights. The menu changes with each night's service, and you can reserve a spot at 9, 9:30 or 10 p.m. for $62 per person. Visit Aion's website for details, where you can also drool over the menu and book your table for a late night out that doesn't involve being unceremoniously booted from a bar on the Hill at last call.


click to enlarge Vital Root serves up backyard cookout fare — without the animal products. - COURTESY VITAL ROOT
Vital Root serves up backyard cookout fare — without the animal products.
Courtesy Vital Root
Saturday, July 4
For a Fourth of July celebration on the day itself, visit the Fort Restaurant, 19192 Highway 8 in Morrison, where you can choose from indoor or outdoor dining. The steakhouse's full menu, including classics like Rocky Mountain oysters, roasted bison marrow and steaks, will be served inside its dining room, while you can get casual burgers and barbecue (not to mention great views of the Denver skyline) on the eatery's enormous patio. In lieu of watching multiple pyrotechnic shows blast off along the Front Range, you'll be treated to the firing of an 1800s-era cannon every hour on the hour. Make sure you have a tight grip on your drink, as well as a reservation (required); book a table on the Fort's website.

If the usual suspects (burgers, brats, brews) don't appeal, visit any of Jax Fish House's three locations on Saturday, July 4, when the seafood house will be serving a hefty crab boil to diners starting at 3:30 p.m. Reservations are required for the meal, which consists of three pounds of Alaskan snow crab, shrimp and andouille, plus potatoes, corn and bread for $55. Add on a bottle of rosé for $36. Book a table at the location nearest you on the Jax Fish House website.

If the idea of freedom-loving diners packing restaurants and pulling their masks underneath their noses before they even get to their table over the holiday weekend makes you want to retreat into star-spangled seclusion, you're not alone. You also won't go hungry, since eateries Linger, Vital Root and Root Down are all offering to-go specials on summer celebration fare — with a twist. Linger, 2030 West 30th Drive, is serving up barbecue of the Korean variety, with smoked brisket, bulgogi pulled pork, scallion cornbread and a soju-watermelon dessert ($54 for two people), while Vital Root, 3915 Tennyson Street, is offering a vegan version of cookout classics like beet burgers, creamed corn with red chimichurri and pepitas, and a peaches and cream bar for dessert ($38 for two). Root Down, 1600 West 33rd Avenue, wants to send you home with international flavors like masala and harissa accenting its smoked short ribs and pork butt, potatoes, carrots and berry crostada ($58 for two). Order takeout via Tock or Toast (where you can also order booze to go!) or delivery via DoorDash (where you can't). The menu is available through Sunday, July 5.

click to enlarge Pie is patriotic this Fourth of July. - COURTESY SMOK
Pie is patriotic this Fourth of July.
Courtesy Smok
Boulder's Blackbelly, 1606 Conestoga Street, is ringing in July with a menu that skews red, white and ’cue this July 4th. The kitchen will be turning out heritage-breed pulled pork, 7X Wagyu sausage, beer-can chicken and Colorado lamb shoulder (all from the high-quality meats the butcher is known for), with Alabama-style white, tangy Carolina and rhubarb barbecue sauces and sides of mac, slaw, baked beans, Mexican street corn and heirloom tomato salad. Reservations aren't being accepted; just show up between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. Visit the restaurant's website for the full menu, which will also be available every Sunday for the remainder of summer.

Forget substandard desserts (teeth-clenchingly cold granita, elaborately decorated cakes and the like) this Fourth of July; real Americans know that pie — even if it's not apple — is the correct dessert at all times of year. Case in point: hand pie offerings from a pair of all-American restaurants this holiday. Both Steuben's (523 East 17th Avenue) and Smok (3330 Brighton Boulevard) are serving the pastries this weekend. Steuben's version comes in cherry and is accompanied by ice cream, while barbecue joint Smok is offering two varieties, blueberry-lemon and strawberry-rhubarb, that will make a pretty and patriotic Instagram post before they disappear into your pie hole. Reservations are recommended for Steuben's, but you'll just have to show up early at Smok to ensure you get your hands on the goods before they're gone.

Buy booze to protect the views at Rocky Mountain National Park. - PHOTO BY D. FRITZE COURTESY OF ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK
Buy booze to protect the views at Rocky Mountain National Park.
Photo by D. Fritze courtesy of Rocky Mountain National Park
Sunday, July 5
The past three years have been rough on America's national parks; prolonged closures due to government shutdowns and international pandemics are just the tip of the iceberg (those are melting, too), with the gutting of funding, protections and staffing for the parks being an even greater threat. Breckenridge Brewery has relaunched Pints for the Parks for a second year; through September, one percent of every Breckenridge pint sold (not only at its Littleton taproom, 2990 Brewery Lane, but also nationwide) will be donated to the National Parks Conservation Association. The brewery has also released a series of glassware designed by a local artist (one of which honors Rocky Mountain National Park) that's available for purchase on its website. So drink up — it's going to take a lot of brews to get the nation's public lands back on track.

click to enlarge Modou Jaiteh in his kitchen at Jacaranda. - MARK ANTONATION
Modou Jaiteh in his kitchen at Jacaranda.
Mark Antonation
Tuesday, July 7
Boulder's Arcana, 909 Walnut Street, only reopened for in-house dining this week, but it's already got a brand-new pop-up on the calendar. From Tuesday, July 7, through Sunday, July 12, the kitchen will be serving food from Modou Jaiteh, the chef/owner of Jacaranda, a kitchen at Rosetta Hall turning out West African (and African-influenced Southern) fare. The menu includes stone fruits — apricots, plums and peaches — spiked with basil and berbere, an intensely fragrant Ethiopian spice; smoked eggplant with palm oil, black-eyed peas and habaneros steamed in banana leaves; and halibut served with crab jollof rice and lobster sauce. Call 303-444-3885 to book a table on Arcana's patio, but if you miss out on a seat, don't worry; you can also pre-order the menu for takeout. Stay up to date on Arcana's Instagram page.

The Modern Eater podcast begins its Summer Dinner Series on Tuesday, July 7, with weekly five-course dinners through the end of August put together by Colorado chefs and beverage producers. Carrie Baird (formerly of Bar Dough, currently Rose's Classic Americana) kicks off the festivities; other highlights include Jesusio Silva (Misaki Sushi and various concepts inside Broadway Market) on July 28; Dana Rodriguez (Super Mega Bien, Work & Class) on August 4; and Brother Luck (Four by Brother Luck, Lucky Dumplings) on August 11. Both Baird and Rodriguez are finalists for this year's James Beard Award for Best Chef in the Mountain region. See the entire lineup and purchase tickets ($200 for a table for two, $400 for a four-top) on Eventbrite. Dinners take place on the patio of Pizza Republica, 890 14th Street, at 6:30 p.m.

Keep reading for a selection of ongoing weekly events....

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Amy Antonation knows that street tacos are infinitely superior to tacos that come covered in squiggles of crema, and she will stab you with her knitting needles if you try to convince her otherwise.
Contact: Amy Antonation