Get ready for a pair of fancy food fests, plus down-home neighborhood celebrations (if you don't do fancy), and burgers that are dressed up and down around town. Here are five fantastic food and drink events this weekend, and four more to plan ahead for.
Friday, September 6
The Denver Food and Wine Festival launched mid-week, but tickets are still available for a pair of parties: On Friday, September 6, join Cattivella on the patio for rosemary and lamb flatbread, wild boar with salsa verde, prime rib pizza and more (4 to 7 p.m., $35) ; next, catch the Grand Tasting on Saturday, September 7, where you can attempt to keep track of how many of the 700 wines and spirits you can sample (we top out at around fifteen), see chef demos and sample food from forty top Denver restaurants (1 to 4 p.m., $125). Find out more and grab tickets on the festival's website.
Worried you won't get your fill at Denver Food and Wine this weekend? We beg to differ, but if there's any lingering doubt in your mind, double up on food festivals by hitting A Denver Feast on Friday, September 6. From 7 to 10 p.m., nearly twenty local restaurants (including hot spots like Ophelia's Electric Soapbox, Chow Morso, Señor Bear and Leven Deli) will converge on the AC Hotel Denver, 750 15th Street, as part of the larger Hotel Thrillist weekend of events. Gasoline Lollipops (the band, not the dubiously flavored candy) will perform. Tickets, $55, are available on the event website right now.
Saturday, September 7
One of the summer's most reliably charming and neighborhood-y celebrations returns to Westwood on Saturday, September 7. From noon to 7 p.m., the Westwood Chile Fest will take over Morrison Road between South Meade and South Osceola streets, with dancing, a bounce house (any resident of the area knows it's not a real party until the fan cranks up and the primary-colored castle rises from the ground), bands, artists, tacos, chile roasting and the annual chile eating contest (three rounds, 11 billion Scovilles). The fest is free, and there's still time to enter the contest. Find details at the party's website.
The Lobby, 2191 Arapahoe Street, has been holding down the corner across the street from Great Divide and just a few blocks from Coors Field for what seems like an eternity (at least in restaurant years): ten years. But at an age when many New Denver restaurants are reaching the end of leases that were negotiated when monthly Ballpark rents weren't in the five digits, the Southern-inspired joint is doubling down on its all-day brunch and bottomless mimosas by throwing a grand slam of a birthday party on Saturday, September 7. From 2 to 6 p.m., stop in for $10 throwback specials, lawn games, an extended happy hour and live music. And in another refreshing return to Old Denver, tickets aren't required. Get details on the eatery's Facebook page.
Sunday, September 8
Luckily for those who enjoyed Friday and Saturday a bit too much, burgers — perhaps the world's perfect hangover food — are on the menu around town for the rest of the month. Inspired by the James Beard Foundation's Blended Burger Project (which encourages restaurants to embrace sustainability without sacrificing flavor by replacing 25 percent of the protein in a hamburger with mushrooms), seven Denver restaurants are participating in the the Blended Burger Dinner Series for the month of September. Participating eateries include the ever-excellent Old Major, which is turning out a harissa, lamb and cremini patty; Rioja, with a Hatch (not Pueblo?) green chile and trumpet mushroom burger; Morin, serving a short rib and mushroom stack smothered in onion aioli; Mercantile Dining & Provision — also creating a lamb and harissa burger, but with oyster ’shrooms; Park Burger, which is topping its beef and mushroom blend with goat cheese and banana peppers; Urban Farmer, which is going over the top with the addition of fried ’shrooms to its burger; and Guard and Grace, griddling up a lamb burger with both goat and provolone cheeses. Visit the StarChefs website for details and mouthwatering pics.
Keep reading for future food and drink events.
Friday, September 20, and Saturday, September 21
If you're like us, you spend most of September vowing to get up to the mountains and see the colors — only to be derailed by that bottle of wine in the fridge on Friday night, that new restaurant you've been meaning to try on Saturday and that ensuing hangover on Sunday. This year, plan ahead to combine all your interests (drinking, dining and saying how much you enjoy the outdoors while you're indoors, safe from bear attacks) at the Vail Fall Food & Wine Classic on Friday, September 20, and Saturday, September 21. The weekend includes Friday night wine dinners at restaurants around town, followed by Saturday morning excursions such as biking, berry picking and bakasana (and other yoga poses) before the grand tasting of scores of wines from more than fifty producers. Tickets for the grand tasting will run you $85 on Taste of Vail's website, but the satisfaction of knowing you've finally — finally! — made it to the mountains in time to see the aspen turn is priceless.
Thursday, October 3
Get a jump on the weekend Thursday, October 3, with Vesta's annual Plates for the Peak fundraiser, which benefits Urban Peak, a nonprofit organization that provides housing, outreach and educational support for young people between the ages of 15 and 24. From 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., the restaurant at 1822 Blake Street will host the casual event, with chefs from three of Denver's most beloved restaurants — good-times stalwarts Steuben's and Ace Eat Serve, along with their fine-dining big sister Vesta — turning out upscale American classics and excellent cocktails that will be sure to satisfy. Visit Urban Peak's website to purchase your tickets ($85 to $100, or spring for table service for groups of six or ten).
Sunday, October 6 through Sunday, October 10
Denver's Harvest Week doesn't begin until October 6, but if you want to snag tickets to any of the five multi-course meals, you'll need to grab your tickets ($85, including drinks) now. Dinners include a vegetarian meal with chefs from Luca, Urban Farmer, Acreage and the Regional; a zero-waste dinner from Super Mega Bien, Vesta and Bistro Vendôme; plus a straight-up eclectic meal combining the vastly different styles of Mercantile & Provision, Vine Street Pub, Rio Grande and Flagstaff House. All dinners start at 6 p.m. at the GrowHaus, 4751 York Street; visit Harvest Week's website to nab your seat at the table before they've been gleaned like the fields after harvest time. NOTE: These events are currently sold out.
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Thursday, October 10, through Sunday, October 13
Flatirons Food Film Festival kicks off its seventh year on Thursday, October 10, and its program for the next four days is more wide-ranging than ever. This year's films shine a spotlight on immigrant and international cuisine, including a pair of films from Africa (Tazzeka from Morocco and Cook Off from Zimbabwe — we highly recommend a visit to one of the African Grill and Bar outposts prior to the screenings for a taste of the cuisine that's underrepresented in the Denver area). There will also be documentaries about Mexico's Diana Kennedy and a couple who traded in their city life for 200 acres of barren farmland; visual-art installations inspired by the films; interviews with chefs, sommeliers and farmers; and, of course, spreads of food from Japanese to Jewish deli. A festival pass will run you $90, with individual screenings and events starting at just $13 on the fest's website.
Thursday, October 24
Feast, Westword's annual celebration of the Denver restaurant scene, will make its delicious return to the McNichols Building on a new day and time: 7 to 10 p.m. Thursday evening. As always, though, Feast will be a true feast for the senses, with music, beverage samplings and dishes from more than forty favorite restaurants. Among those already signed on to sample their food are Uchi, Jackdaw, Milk & Cake, The Veggie Whisperer, Roaming Buffalo Bar-B-Q and more. This year, VIP ticket-holders will again be treated to a special menu, this year courtesy of the world-renowned Matsuhisa. Bites from Matsuhisa will include spicy tuna crispy rice, chicken gyoza, black cod miso in limestone lettuce, and more, as well as special VIP cocktails to complement the menu. VIP tickets also include early entry into the event at 6 p.m. and a VIP gift bag. Tickets are now on sale for $30 general admission, $55 VIP at westwordfeast.com.
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