When you hear the word "no," it's hard not to feel disappointed, but this week starts with a trio of surprisingly brilliant food and drink happenings — NOLA, no dogs and no calories — before shifting to booze, burgers and blue crab. Here are eight great events from Monday, July 29, through Friday, August 2, with six more to plan for through the end of August.
Monday, July 29
For many, there's nothing to recommend Mondays; they mark only the return to the office. But to New Orleans residents, Monday is red beans and rice day, and on Monday, July 29, restaurateur Emily Shaya of Safta is bringing the tradition of her adopted home town to Denver. From 5 to 7 p.m. at the restaurant's takeout counter, 3300 Brighton Boulevard, $15 will get homesick Big Easy-ers (and hungry Northerners) a plate of the iconic dish, plus cornbread and salad. If you're dubious about the authenticity of any Southern dish served west of the Mississippi, fret not; Shaya took home the Legume d'Or at this year's Bean Madness, a New Orleans cooking competition. To get her recipe, take a look at our previous coverage — and then skip slaving over a hot stove in 90-degree heat by heading to the restaurant for the dish.
Tuesday, July 30
Most chefs don't welcome dogs at a fancy meal (no, Karen, your emotional support Chihuahua doesn't count as a service dog), and the Tuesday, July 30, edition of the Modern Eater Summer Dinner Series is no exception. Chef Jim Pittenger has built his career on cooking dogs (of the hot, not canine, variety!) at Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs, but at this meal, he's whipping up five courses with nary a sausage in sight. Menu details are scarce, but the ponytailed pork (and elk and reindeer and rattlesnake) purveyor has a deft hand with all kinds of dishes, so the meal promises to be delicious. And with Pittenger's outsized personality in the kitchen, diners won't be disappointed. The fun starts at 5:30 p.m. at Studio Kitchen Colorado, 490 Decatur Street; secure your seat ($80, including local beer and wine pairings) on Eventbrite.
Wednesday, July 31
Celery: the most boring of vegetables, famous for (purportedly) being so bland that it takes more calories to digest than it contains. But what if there was a way to make the crunchy stalks more enticing — without slathering them in peanut butter and (shudder) raisins? Enter the Wednesday, July 31, installment of Mixed Taste, the lecture series that pairs two speakers who have wildly divergent areas of expertise. This week, celery is enlivened by its surprising bedfellow, emo rap, at the Seawell Ballroom in the Denver Performing Arts Complex. The lecture starts at 7 p.m., but if you show up at 5 p.m., you can take advantage of drinks at an outside bar under the galleria. Get your ticket for $20 and check out the rest of the summer's schedule on the Denver Center for the Performing Arts website. Which is more depressing: ants on a log or sad rap? You'll find out.
Thursday, August 1
Ulysses S. Grant gave us something to celebrate when he admitted Colorado to the Union on August 1, 1876. Little did he know that 143 years later, residents of the state would be incapable of celebrating anything without weed, beer or booze. But here we are, and Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey, 200 South Kalamath Street, is honoring its roots (and its customer base) with free tours of the distillery on Thursday, August 1. Every half-hour from 2 to 8 p.m., guests will get a one-hour tour of the facility that includes a swag bag and tastings of four whiskeys — including the coveted Snowflake, Mt. Bierstadt edition — plus cocktail specials and live music. While the tour is free, you are required to reserve your spot in advance; to do so, visit the Stranahan's website.
The Nickel is about to become your favorite happy-hour stop — at least for the month of August. Hotel Teatro's stylish restaurant and bar at 1100 Fourteenth Street is turning five this month, and from August 1 through 31, it's celebrating its ability to count to ten and do a somersault by offering customers something significantly more adult: a five-cent Manhattan. From 3 to 6 p.m. every Monday through Friday, guests can score a barrel-aged Manhattan for just a nickel. Find out more (though this deal is so good the small print doesn't matter much) on the restaurant's Facebook page.
Paul C. Reilly is heading to a farm up north on Thursday, August 1. No, the acclaimed Denver chef (Coperta, Beast + Bottle and Pizzeria Coperta) wasn't hit by a car chasing a tennis ball; he's just partnering with Longmont's scenic Oxford Gardens, 10145 Oxford Road, for a four-course farm dinner starting at 6 p.m. Reilly will be drawing on his restaurants' roots with dishes like smoked trout and squash blossom and dill pizzas; beet salad with apricot, homemade ricotta and pistachio vinaigrette; lamb shoulder with basil crema; and beet velvet cake. The dinner ($120 on Eventbrite) includes a welcome cocktail, but is otherwise BYOB, though you can also pre-order a bottle or three directly from Cured Marketplace and have them waiting at the table for you.
Summer means burgers and hot dogs on the grill, and while no one in town has yet to put on a frankfurter festival — a grave oversight, in our opinion — the Denver Burger Battle is returning for its ninth year on Thursday, August 1. Stanley Marketplace, 2501 Dallas Street in Aurora, will host the 6:30 p.m. smackdown, with burger joints (the Cherry Cricket, American Grind, Park Burger and Larkburger) and bougie restaurants alike (Hearth & Dram, LeRoux) battling for ground beef dominance. Tickets, $65 to $125, include all the burgers, beer and wine you could wish for, and are available on the event website, along with a complete list of competitors and mouthwatering descriptions of the fare.
Friday, August 2
Kick off the first weekend in August with a vengeance at Jax Fish House, 650 South Colorado Boulevard in Glendale, at the first of five crab boils this month. Starting at 3 p.m. every Friday from August 2 through August 30, the rooftop bar (one of our favorites in town) will be serving heaping helpings of blue crab, corn, potatoes and andouille for $48; to add to the party atmosphere, there will also be live soul music on deck plus $3 beers and $7 glasses of wine. Add great views of downtown and the Front Range plus free parking (yes, Virginia, there really is free parking in Denver), and this is a summer event you'll want to make a tradition. Details are up on Jax's website.
Keep reading for future food and drink events.
Saturday, August 10
Chef Alon Shaya set Denver abuzz with the opening of his Israeli restaurant Safta last year — and now he's bringing another far-flung tradition to Colorado with Bacchanal x Denver. For Saturday, August 10, and Sunday, August 11, the original Source parking lot at 3300 Brighton Boulevard will be transformed into a Mile High version of the Big Easy's celebrated wine shop/cafe/all-day party Bacchanal Wine; guests can expect live jazz performances, extravagant charcuterie and cheese boards, more than 25 Old World wines, and fire-roasted dishes like broccolini with tahini and Manchego, and skirt steak with labneh, fried yucca and peach chimichurri. Entry is $15, with food and wine for sale inside, though bring your credit card: The event is cashless. In keeping with Bacchanal's garden vibe, seating will be casual, colorful and communal, making you feel as though you're relaxing at a friend's backyard party — a custom that's always in style, no matter where you're from. Find out more on Safta's Facebook page.
Sunday, August 11
If you missed June's Heritage Fire event in Snowmass, you've got a mulligan, because on Sunday, August 11, the organizer, Cochon555, is hosting an encore presentation at Stem Ciders' Acreage, 1380 Horizon Drive in Lafayette. Whether it was the timing of the event or the your inability to get mountain lodging during Aspen Food & Wine that derailed your desire to feast on whole beasts roasted over open flame, you've got a second chance to enjoy expansive views and delicious food, wine and craft beer from 4:30 to 7 p.m. Tickets ($150 to $200) are on sale now on Cochon's website, where the participating chefs should be posted soon. What we're hoping to see (in addition to the smoke that definitely signals fire)? Some of Colorado's skillful female chefs rounding out the all-male lineup that was our only complaint about the June event.
Thursday, August 15
Denver was long considered a cowtown — if not by snooty coastal types, then affectionately and somewhat defiantly by its own denizens. While we've (mostly) left that moniker in the dust, there's no reason we should turn our backs on our heritage, particularly when it's so tasty. On Thursday, August 15, RARE: The Denver Steak Championships, unites over twenty of the top steakhouses in town (including Corrida, Guard and Grace, Citizen Rail, Hearth & Dram and Elway's) to fire up the grills and compete to sear the best steak in both traditional and creative categories; they're also hoping to win your vote by plying you with sophisticated cocktails designed to pair perfectly with meaty, medium-rare goodness. The Denver Performing Arts Complex is the site of the showdown from 6 to 10 p.m., and tickets ($130 to $150) are on sale on the event's Facebook page. So honor Denver's cultural history; it's as juicy as that steak you're about to sink your teeth into.
Saturday, August 17
Tacolandia returns to Civic Center Park, Broadway and Colfax Avenue, for a fourth year on Saturday, August 17, from 4 to 7 p.m., celebrating food, art, music and culture. Join us in honoring that great Mexican invention, the taco, in its many forms as presented by thirty of the city's top cantinas (Adelitas Cocina y Cantina, Los Chingones, Kachina Cantina), taquerias (El Aguila Azteca, Antojitos La Poblanita, El Coco Pirata) and food trucks (El Moreno, Taco Block, Pico Arepa), and even the odd grocery store and sandwich shop (Carniceria Aaliyah, Torta Grill). Tickets, $25 for general admission or $55 for VIP, are now on sale at westwordtacolandia.com.
Sunday, August 25
Over 200 restaurants opened in Denver last year — and it seems all of them started serving brunch within a few months of opening their doors. For brunchophiles trying to work their way through all the restaurants in town serving the meal, that's a tall order. But on Sunday, August 25, you can make a significant dent in your to-brunch list at BrunchFest 2019. The McNichols Building, 144 West Colfax Avenue, is the site of the boozy shenanigans, with over twenty restaurants serving brunch dishes, plus unlimited Bloodys and mimosas, from noon to 3 p.m. Tickets run $59 to $109, and you can pick them up, as well as see participating restaurants, on the event website.
Tuesday, August 27, and Wednesday, August 28
Den Corner knows how to throw a party, and its annual rooftop party and fundraiser only gets better with age. What started out in 2016 with a handful of chefs flown in from Japan has morphed into even more festivities, with twenty Japanese chefs hopping the pond to raise funds for Colorado's We Don't Waste and southern Japan's Kumamoto Castle Earthquake Relief Fund. This year, local chefs Carrie Baird, Ian Wortham, Caroline Glover, Dana Rodriguez, Elise Wiggins, Alex Seidel, Paul Reilly, Alon Shaya and more will join the shindig on August 27 and 28; beer, wine, cocktails and sake will be flowing, while ramen, hand rolls and Japanese street food will be plentiful. Tickets for the party, which runs from 7 to 10 p.m. both nights on the roof of the Den Corner parking garage at East Florida Avenue and Pearl Street, are $90 (includes three drink tickets), $110 (includes five drink tickets), or $135 (VIP early admission at 5 p.m., plus five drink tickets), and can be purchased on Sushi Den's website, along with a complete list of participating chefs and menu details. As with everything manned by Toshi and Yasu Kizaki, the party generally sells out, so don't delay in guaranteeing your entry.
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