Things to Do

The Eight Best Events on the Culinary Calendar This Week

Get this flight for free on Colorado Day, August 1.
Get this flight for free on Colorado Day, August 1. Courtesy Stranahan's
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.

click to enlarge A New Orleans tradition: Red beans and rice with tomatoes, a seasonal salad and warm cornbread. - MARK ANTONATION
A New Orleans tradition: Red beans and rice with tomatoes, a seasonal salad and warm cornbread.
Mark Antonation
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.

click to enlarge Biker Jim's wiener sure is pretty, but it's not welcome at his July 30 dinner. - DANIELLE LIRETTE
Biker Jim's wiener sure is pretty, but it's not welcome at his July 30 dinner.
Danielle Lirette
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.

click to enlarge Even a pretty picture isn't enough to make celery enticing. - FLICKR/MARCO VERCH PROFESSIONAL
Even a pretty picture isn't enough to make celery enticing.
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.


click to enlarge Our verdict on this Denver Burger Battle entry: looks delicious, but a bit flavorless. - DANIELLE LIRETTE
Our verdict on this Denver Burger Battle entry: looks delicious, but a bit flavorless.
Danielle Lirette
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.

click to enlarge Glendale's Jax Fish House boasts two great views for August: the food and the Front Range. - COURTESY JAX FISH HOUSE
Glendale's Jax Fish House boasts two great views for August: the food and the Front Range.
Courtesy Jax Fish House
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.
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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