Too broke to go on vacation this summer? You can still hit Mexico twice this week — plus Vietnam, Japan and Naples — with food and drink events around town drawing inspiration from international locales. More of a homebody? Check out everything independent Denver restaurants have to offer at the Big Eat. Either way, you'll find something delicious.
Monday, June 17
Desperate parents frantically scrambling for something to occupy their kids on Monday, June 17, will want to check out the Ross-Broadway Library's Sticky Fingers Cooking Class from 3 to 4 p.m. Instructors will introduce little ones from five to twelve to Vietnamese cuisine, making nuoc cham (the ubiquitous tangerine-colored dipping sauce that's a little sweet, a little salty and a little fishy) and tra dao (peach iced tea). Kids will learn how to chop, measure and mix, so not only will they be full when they get home, but you can put them to work helping you make dinner. The class is free, but you'll need to register with the library, 33 East Bayaud Avenue, at 720-865-0135. Take a look at the branch's Facebook page for more info.
Tuesday, June 18
Take a trip to the Far East on Tuesday, June 18 — it's much closer than you think. Bamboo Sushi, 2715 17th Street, is offering its Green Machine roll (tempura long beans and green onions, avocado and cilantro-chile aioli) with albacore plus a glass of Bamboo sake for just $20 to celebrate International Sushi Day. It's a $9 savings from the regular menu price, and a seat on the eatery's serene patio will transport you to an elegant Japanese garden.
Wednesday, June 19
Mezcal aficionados who haven't been able to get a reservation for Adelitas' popular One Night in Oaxaca dinners have double the chances to snag their seat at the table for this week's edition. Both of the restaurant's locations are hosting the event: Littleton on Wednesday, June 19, and Denver on Thursday, June 20. The $75, five-course menu includes a Casa Cortés Mezcal cocktail with each dish; we're most looking forward to the squash-blossom tlacoyo, beef ribs in guajillo and ancho chile sauce, and duck confit with parsnip purée and olive relish. Reservations are required for the 6:30 p.m. meal; make yours at 303-778-1294, and find the entire menu here.
The Ballpark outpost of Marco's Coal-Fired, 2129 Larimer Street, is courting plant-based eaters on Wednesday, June 19, with its first-ever vegan dinner. For a mere $35 — including tax and tip — you'll get balsamic-glazed mushroom crostini, tomato soup, salad, a choice of vegan pies (options include eggplant caponata; caccio e pepe with cauliflower béchamel, asparagus and mozz; arugula pesto with pine nuts; and roasted onions, peppers and mozz), Kahlúa cake with coconut ice cream, and a cocktail. Buy your ticket and select your seating time (6:30, 7 or 7:30 p.m.) on the pizzeria's website.
Thursday, June 20
Get ready for the Big Eat, the biggest celebration of local independent eateries in town. Over sixty restaurants, breweries and distilleries will gather in the outdoor galleria at the Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Champa streets, to put out unlimited food and drink pairings that reflect Denver's true food scene, with nary a campy Rocky Mountain oyster or national chain in sight. Instead, there will be mainstays that have been upping Denver's game for decades (Vesta, Duo, TAG) as well as newcomers bringing inspiration from across the globe (Liberati, Cirque Kitchen). While national chains are finally starting to look to our city as a viable market, we've had everything we need here all along — and the Big Eat proves it. Tickets are $65; get them and find out more at eatdenver.com.
Friday, June 21
Boulder's Arcana, 909 Walnut Street, is importing alumni from Noma Mexico and Arca Tulum to Colorado as it prepares to head south of the border on Friday, June 21, and Saturday, June 22, for La Arcana. The kitchen will serve a modern, four-course Mexican menu from 4 to 11 p.m., with dishes like avocado salad with hoja santa and masa mayonnaise, barbecued lamb with pomegranate salsa and housemade tortillas (courtesy of restaurateur/chef Kelly Whitaker and Noble Grain Alliance's heirloom corn) and watermelon paletas flavored with lime, chile, salt and mezcal. Mexican wine and a special cocktail menu will also be available. Dinner will run you $65; book your table on Arcana's website before tables vanish like your resolve not to fill up on bread when faced with freshly made tortillas.
Keep reading for future food and drink events.
Thursday, June 27
Nobody loves tacos more than we do — but can you eat $135 worth of them? If you can't, it's not for lack of opportunity at this year's Top Taco. The annual competition takes place on Thursday, June 27, at Stanley Marketplace, 2501 Dallas Street in Aurora, when more than fifty restaurants around town will go head-to-head to see who can serve the best iteration of the classic Mexican street food. There will be tacos for all tastes: street-style (Cilantro & Perejil, Adelitas, Las Delicias), crowd-pleasers (Uno Mas, Tacos Tequila Whiskey, Los Chingones) and WTF (Tupelo Honey, Syrup). Not only will tacos fill your tummy, but tequila and margs are also on tap. Still don't think you can stuff over a hundred bucks worth of food in your estómago? Not to worry: GA tickets start at $75 on the event website.
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Friday, July 19, through Sunday, July 21
Slow Food Nations appeals to everyone (except, perhaps, unrepentant fast-food aficionados). The international food fest kicks off its third year in town on Friday, July 19, and will run nearly forty chef demos, lectures, workshops, parties and dinners — plus the enormous Taste Marketplace, with over 100 vendors hawking their wares and handing out samples — through Sunday, July 21. About half the events taking place around town (but mainly around Larimer Square at Larimer and 14th streets) are free, but the rest require tickets, which start at $20. Visit the Slow Food Nations website to see the whole weekend's schedule and make sure you nab tickets for your can't-miss events.
Saturday, August 17
Tacolandia returns to Civic Center Park, Broadway and Colfax Avenue, for a fourth year on Saturday, August 17, celebrating food, art, music and culture. Join us in honoring that great Mexican invention, the taco, in its many forms as presented by the city's top cantinas, taquerias and food trucks, including Adelitas Cocina y Cantina, Antojitos La Poblanita, Carniceria Aaliyah, El Gallo Blanco, Issai's Catering, Kachina Cantina, La Fiesta, Los Chingones, Lucha Cantina, Mariscos El Rey 2, Los Mesones, Neveria Jedany's, Taco Block, Torta Grill, Yareth's, El Coco Pirata and more. Tickets, $25 for general admission or $55 for VIP, are now on sale at westwordtacolandia.com.
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