Best Denver Food and Drink Things to Do This Weekend | Westword

The Five Best Events on the Culinary Calendar This Weekend

Wisconsin-style cheese curds, a barbecue pop-up and a celebration of every Colorado restaurant are on this weekend's calendar.
Who cares how the Packers are playing when you have a basket of cheese curds from Wally's Wisconsin Tavern in front of you?
Who cares how the Packers are playing when you have a basket of cheese curds from Wally's Wisconsin Tavern in front of you? Mark Antonation
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This weekend, slow down for summer's end, celebrate Colorado Restaurant Day by supporting your favorite joint in the state, have a seat in Westwood for some great family recipes (as well as words from city leaders), and grab upscale cantina fare in Boulder. Here are five of the best food and drink events in town, plus more to get on your calendar right now.

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Expertly plated food from the Bindery, which is offering a three-course meal to go this weekend.
Mark Antonation
Friday, September 11
The massive Slow Food Nations festival was scheduled to take over Larimer Square the weekend of September 11, but Mother Nature had other plans, in the form of the coronavirus. While the festival has long since been canceled, the Bindery, 1817 Central Street, saved the dates anyway and is instead offering a Summer Slow Down takeout menu from Friday, September 11, through Sunday, September 13. The three-course, $75 meal includes pickled peaches with goat cheese, chilled zucchini-tarragon soup, puttanesca panzanella and lemon chicken scaloppine. For those who don't want chicken, the Bindery is also offering a vegetarian substitute that's a roasted red pepper relleno with green mole (this is noteworthy because mole can lure even the most strident carnivore into plant-based eating, and we expect the Bindery's version to be outstanding). Place your order on Tock no later than 5 p.m. on Wednesday, September 9, for pickup between noon and 2 p.m. and 5 and 7 p.m. all weekend long.

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Cultura Craft Chocolate is preparing dessert for Las Noches de Frida.
Mark Antonation
Saturday, September 12
Saturday, September 12, marks the second in the weekly dinner series Las Noches de Frida, which celebrates not only the work, but the political and social influence of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo. Community development organization Re:Vision and its partners host an art show honoring Kahlo every year, but in 2020 the exhibit has moved online; the in-person, interactive component of the event is the dinner series. Chefs are part of the RISE Westwood Collective, a group of Latinx-owned businesses in the Westwood neighborhood. While this week's menu hasn't been released yet, the previous week's offerings included squash blossom quesadillas, chicken in green pumpkin-seed mole, pulque and chocolate cake with cherries. Colorado Senator Julie Gonzalez will be the guest speaker at the feast; future speakers include City Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca and Lisa Calderón (City Council District 9 member and chief of staff), Charleen Mares of Girls, Inc. and Tanya Mote of Su Teatro. Dinner runs from 5:45 to 8:15 p.m. in the gardens of the RISE Westwood campus, 3738 Morrison Road, and will run you $45 to $80 (VIP) per person, with tickets sold for tables of two, four or six diners. Purchase yours (and see upcoming dinners on September 19 and 26) on the RISE Westwood Collective website.

The Denver Food & Wine Festival would normally be setting up tents and tasting tables in mid-September, but instead of bringing us delicious bites and bottomless booze samples, 2020 has instead given us murder hornets, flammable snow and the Space Force. There's a bright spot, though: Governor Jared Polis has declared Saturday, September 12, Colorado Restaurant Day, so festival organizers have teamed up with the Colorado Restaurant Association (CRA) for a series of events to benefit its Angel Relief Fund, which provides financial support to the state's restaurant workers. Eat at Larimer Square restaurants like Rioja, Bistro Vendôme, Osteria Marco or TAG or the brand-new LoHi joint My Neighbor Felix and make a donation to the fund. And if you'd like to support hospitality employees outside of metro Denver, you can make a donation to CRA's Steamboat Springs or northern Colorado chapters. Can't nab a reservation? Order takeout or delivery directly from your favorite Colorado eatery and make a donation on Denver Food & Wine's website.

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What's a Tex-Mex cantina pop-up without the cantina? The bar at Oak at Fourteenth will be serving boozy beverages alongside Smok's barbecue.
Oak at Fourteenth
Sunday, September 13
Boulderites who don't want to drive down to Denver for barbecue are (in addition to being big ol' BBQ babies) in luck on Sunday, September 13, when the Mile High City's own Smok makes the trek to Boulder's Oak at Fourteenth. Starting at 11 a.m., the patio at 1400 Pearl Street is open, and pitmaster Bill Espiricueta's Tex-Mex cantina-style creations — including brisket tacos, pulled pork and smoked queso tamales, barbecue shrimp tostadas and smoked chicken and green chile enchiladas — will be for sale. Both the patio and the grub are available on a first-come, first-served basis (barbecue is a no-nonsense enterprise, after all), so show up early and prepared to order one of everything. Visit Oak and Smok's Instagram pages for details and pics.

Forget the bad decisions you make at bars after 11 p.m.; what about the bad decisions you make while watching a football game at 11 a.m.? From paying $8.50 for a pint of piss-yellow lager to shit-talking the loudmouth in front of you to nearly coming to blows while waiting at the taxi stand, a fair percentage of our worst decisions have been made in close proximity to the NFL. But because stadiums are (mostly) closed to fans this seasons, at least a few errors in judgment (namely, those related to proximity to drunk strangers and overpayment for lousy beer) will be mitigated. Enter Rhein Haus (1415 Market Street) and its sibling bar Wally's Wisconsin Tavern (1417 Market Street), which are currently taking reservations starting at 10 a.m. on Sunday, September 13, for the Green Bay Packers versus Minnesota Vikings game. Get together a gang of four to eight fans and book your seats together for $10 per person; the cost includes one Rainier beer and pretzel (Rhein Haus) or a Miller High Life and basket of cheese curds (Wally's) and ensures you'll all be seated together for the 11 a.m. kickoff. Book your table at either location on Eventbrite. That'll be one good decision you make before the beer starts flowing...

And mark your calendars...
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Pirie Associaties
Wednesday, September 16
With fireworks shows across the state canceled in July, America's Independence Day may not have seemed very festive. Luckily, Mexican Independence Day is just around the corner, on Wednesday, September 16, and you don't need to set off pyrotechnics, gather in large groups or (the worst) listen to God Bless the USA to make it a memorable night. Instead, visit Dos Luces Brewery, 1236 South Broadway, for its celebratory beer dinner from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Neighborhood favorite Adelitas Cocina y Cantina will be providing a three-course meal of tortilla soup spiked with panela cheese and paired with pineapple tepache; chiles en nogada (roasted poblanos stuffed with ground pork and beef, topped with walnut cream sauce and pomegranate seeds) with pulque; and pecan cake with cajeta caramel and imperial pulque. Individual tickets for the dinner are $50, though preference (as well as a price break) is given to parties of four to six people, which can book a table for $180 or $240, respectively. Nab yours at Dos Luces's online storefront.

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The Vail Craft Beer Classic — put on by the same folks as Wine at Vail — is spread out in the great outdoors.
Vail Craft Beer Classic
Friday, September 18
Wine festivals have a bit of an advantage over beer festivals in the age of COVID: Harvest season falls in autumn, so a handful of mountain wine fests are still on. One of those is the Wine Classic at Vail, which is offering four — count ’em, four — grand tastings on Friday, September 18, and Saturday, September 19. More than thirty beverage producers from around the globe will be pouring samples for guests to enjoy on the lawn of Ford Park (adjacent to the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, 522 South Frontage Road East). Each ninety-minute tasting session is limited to 175 people to encourage social distancing. Find out more on the fest's website and nab tickets, $69, on Eventbrite; tastings start at 2 and 4:30 p.m. on Friday and noon and 2:30 p.m. on Saturday.

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If you're looking to get boozy seltzer sprayed directly into your mouth from six feet away, Seltzerland is the event for you.
Saturday, September 19
As event producers cautiously dip their toes back into the murky waters of large-scale gatherings, they're forced to be creative about how to ensure that safety, social distancing and summer fun are all on tap in a single afternoon. Seltzerland, a traveling hard-seltzer fest that's landing in Denver on Saturday, September 19, is taking an approach as intriguing as any: Vendors and guests will tee off on Erie's Colorado National Golf Club, 2700 Vista Parkway, for nine holes of drinks. Leave your clubs at home (long metal sticks are generally frowned upon at any gathering where booze is the main attraction) for your walk along the fairway with a cohort of up to fourteen other attendees. Entry is timed in ten-minute intervals, and social distancing is required between groups as well as between vendors. While we're not sure how you'll get your seltzer samples if you're maintaining six feet from the seltzertender (is that the right word?), you're promised more than fifty different beverages and ninety minutes of fresh air and drinking with friends. Tickets are $39 for general admission, which runs from 1 to 4:30 p.m. (participants are given an entry time during that window), or $79 for VIP, which goes from 11 a.m. to 12:50 p.m. and includes one cocktail, a full can of seltzer, free parking and bites in addition to samples. Visit the event website for details and to purchase tickets.

April 21 — the day government officials from Bavaria and Munich announced the cancellation of Munich's iconic Oktoberfest celebrations — was a sad day for beer drinkers around the globe. Denver's Oktoberfest was not so quick to follow, but finally put the kibosh on the Mile High City's annual dunkel drinking and dachshund racing festivities on July 31. So while large-scale gatherings have been given das Boot this year, you can still enter Breckenridge Brewery's drawing for a mini-Oktoberfest through September 12. Visit the brewery's website to throw your name in the hat to receive a private performance by the Rhinelanders (okay, as private as a Jeep hauling a three-piece band on a trailer and parking in your driveway can be), steins, brats and pretzels — all free. The beer, sadly, is not free (due to legal restrictions), but that means you can furnish whatever brews you prefer. Seven mini-bashes will be provided in Denver and Colorado Springs on Saturday, September 19, and Sunday, September 20.

Monday, September 21
Start your week off really, really, right at Bettola Bistro, 10253 East Iliff Avenue. The sweet Italian dining room is launching the first of its monthly dinner series themed around a wide-ranging list of inspirations: friends, colleagues, ingredients, geography. On Monday, September 21, Bettola is teaming up with one of the original meat men in Denver: OG charcuterie expert Mark DeNittis, whose Il Mondo Vecchio was way ahead of its time. DeNittis will be turning out a four-course feast focusing on Duroc pork; the evening will also include a short butchering and coppa-making demo. Seatings are available at 6 and 8 p.m. and will run you $125 plus tip (tax is included). Email [email protected] or call 303-750-1580 to reserve your spot, and follow Bettola's Instagram page for mouthwatering pics and details on upcoming installments.

Harvest Week takes a very different form this year.
Mark Antonation
Wednesday, September 23, through Sunday, October 4
Denver's Harvest Week is a beloved tradition — if you've been fast enough to snag a seat at one of the wildly popular dinners under the roof of the GrowHaus, the nonprofit organization providing food and food education to residents of Denver's Globeville and Elyria-Swansea neighborhoods. This year, things look different, both because of COVID and because the GrowHaus building was shuttered as a result of severe structural issues. The upside? Harvest Week is being revamped as a citywide celebration of Colorado food and drink. More than thirty Denver and Boulder eateries (including Cart-Driver, Ace Eat Serve, Ultreia, Santo, Jax, Blackbelly and Tap & Burger) will be using local ingredients to create uniquely Colorado dishes and cocktails. Visit the event's Facebook page or website for a complete list of participating restaurants, then start making reservations. Meal planning has never been easier.

Everything old is new again: drive-in movies, anti-mask organizations, even progressive dinners. Here's a  throwback to the 1960s tradition (albeit with a thoroughly modern price tag). On Wednesday, September 23, $350 will put you and a friend in the thick of things at the Dairy Block, 1800 Wazee Street, for a cocktail crawl that includes bougie bites along with beverages. Expect Gruyère fondue with a boozy punch from Poka Lola Social Club; a quartet of smoked things — salmon, cauliflower, short rib and mac and cheese — alongside a whiskey flight from Seven Grand; Colorado lamb three ways with syrah from Blanchard Family Wines; and passionfruit pavlova served with Run for the Roses' final cocktail of the evening. The event goes from 6 to 9 p.m.; nab your spot (there are only ten left!) at the Rebel Experiences website.

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The Dairy Block
Thursday, September 24
If you want to taste tipples at the Dairy Block, 1800 Wazee Street, but don't have a small fortune to spend on a single evening of drinking (see above), wait just one more night — until Thursday, September 24 — for a Chopped-style cocktail competition that includes bartenders from Seven Grand, Poka Lola Social Club, Denver Milk Market, Run for the Roses and Foraged mixing up bourbon-based cocktails using Angel's Envy and a basket of mystery ingredients. A limited number of guests will be able to taste all five cocktails — for free! — and vote for the people's-choice cocktail. RSVP on Eventbrite, where you'll reserve your entry time (every fifteen minutes from 6 to 7:30 p.m.); you'll have ten minutes to taste and cast your ballot. Don't wait to register; spots will go fast. This event support Angel's Envy, a reforestation advocacy group.

Saturday, September 26

Everybody loves bubbles (unless they're of the economic variety)! Pour some sparkling wine into a glass and it's an immediate celebration. And on Saturday, September 26, you need to celebrate the fact that you have survived the first 269 days of this year (hey, we need to take our happiness where we can get it in 2020). Enter Spark!, a sparkling wine festival highlighting effervescent wine styles from around the globe. Champagne and prosecco will make appearances, naturally, but you'll also get a chance to sample lesser-known styles like sekt and cremant. More than twenty producers will be pouring at Peak Beverage, 4375 Brighton Boulevard, for three tasting sessions: a VIP session ($100) from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. that includes exclusive tastings from five champagne producers, a cheese and charcuterie box, a tasting book, a branded face mask, a raffle ticket and more; and two GA sessions ($65) from 2 to 4:30 and 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. There are also virtual tastings for anyone who wants to treat themselves but would prefer to do so in the comfort of their own home (and their sweatpants); packages range from $120 to $200 and all include at least three half-bottles of wine or champagne, snacks, and four forty-minute workshops. Visit the Spark! Instagram page for details, then nab your tickets on Night Out.

Know of an event or activity that belongs here? Send information to [email protected].
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