From a food truck frenzy to a cookware shopping spree to a battle for global pinball domination, this week is full of slightly weird, slightly wacky food-and-drink events, just the things to get you in shape for the collision of Derby Day and Cinco de Mayo on May 5. In anticipation of that day, here are seven of our favorite culinary events from Monday, April 30, through Friday, May 4, as well as some future activities to put on your calendar.
Monday, April 30
Start your week off right — by jostling your balls while you drink beer. Gunbarrel Brewing Company, 7088 Winchester Circle in Boulder, is inviting Tommies of all abilities to join its pinball league starting Monday, April 30, from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Entry is a steal ($10 for the season) and cash prizes are on the line; Bandar Syrian and Mediterranean food truck as well as Gunbarrel beers will be serving food and brews to keep up your strength for the competition. Info is up at the brewery's Facebook page.
Tuesday, May 1
Like the swallows returning to Capistrano and the salmon swimming upstream, the return of Civic Center Eats heralds the changing of the seasons in the eternal cycle of life. Starting Tuesday, May 1, a horde of food trucks will descend upon Civic Center Park every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday through Thursday, October 4 (with a few days off for special events). Whether your tastes lean toward burgers or sushi, pasties or tacos, there's sure to be food to satisfy among the eighty-plus trucks that rotate through the weekly roster. Find a detailed schedule at civiccenterconservancy.org if you want to carefully plan your lunch, or just show up between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. and wing it if you're feeling spontaneous. We recommend getting there early, though: Lines during peak lunch hour can be daunting.
Wednesday, May 2
An art gallery isn't the first place you'd expect to go for a panel discussion on agriculture, but there's always something surprising at Walker Fine Art. On Wednesday, May 2, the gallery at 300 West 11th Avenue will be hosting the Organic Metropolis, during which a master gardener from Denver Urban Gardens and Colorado State University scientists (from the departments of Soil and Crop Sciences and Bioagricultural Sciences and Pest Management) will discuss the future of ag in urban areas. Wine and hors d'oeuvres will be served starting at 6 p.m., and the panel begins at 6:30 p.m. Visit Walker's Facebook page for details on this free event that anyone interested in American food systems should take notice of.
Taco Tuesday is cancelled; why fight the crowds for some overfilled, soggy, mayo-slathered tacos when you can hold out for Tequila...Wednesday? That's right, delay your gratification for only one day and you can enjoy a tequila tasting with four small plates for just $40. Otra Vez, 610 16th Street, is serving tequila five ways (blanco, reposado, añejo, extra añejo and in a margarita) with courses like cochinita pibil, zucchini blossom quesadillas and apple pie chimichangas. The fiesta starts at 6:30 p.m.; find the full menu and tickets on Facebook. And yes, we know there's a sirloin taco on the menu...what can we say? It's the perfect food; no caring kitchen would ever deny you.
Thursday, May 3
Le Creuset's heavy, brightly-hued cookware is undoubtedly aspirational: There's no point in owning it unless you've got some serious kitchen skills, and it's too expensive to buy just for looks. But starting this Thursday, May 3, you can find some steep discounts on the world's prettiest cast-iron cookware at Denver's first Factory to Table Sale. From Thursday through Sunday, May 6, the National Western Complex, 4655 Humboldt Street, will be taken over by cooks and collectors; the event is divided into shopping sessions throughout the day, and while the weekend sessions are free, early entry will cost you. Select one of the Thursday VIP sessions (3 to 6 p.m. or 6 to 9 p.m.) for $25 and get the royal treatment, including free drinks and appetizers, live music, giveaways, and chef demos from Justin Brunson (Old Major), Alex Seidel (Fruition and Mercantile Dining & Provision), Biju Thomas (Biju's Little Curry Shop) and more. A Friday session will run you $10 without the extras, but will ensure the best selection. Find out more and reserve your shopping session — hurry, because Saturday is already fully booked — at Le Creuset's website.
If the idea of hitting the big jackpot isn't enough to get you to make the short trek to Black Hawk for some casino action, perhaps some good food will do the trick. Crook's Palace (200 Gregory Street) is hosting the Black Hawk Casino Chef Cook-Off beginning at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 3. For $50, you'll enjoy samples from the chefs of Ameristar Casino Resort Spa, The Isle Casino Hotel Black Hawk & Lady Luck Black Hawk, The Lodge Casino & The Gilpin Casino, Monarch Casino Black Hawk, Saratoga Casino Black Hawk, and and Z Casino Black Hawk. Admission to the 21-and-over event includes a voucher for one Tommyknocker beer, but additional beers and wine from Ferrari-Carano will be available for purchase. Details and tickets can be found on Eventbrite. Proceeds from the cook-off will be donated to ACF Colorado Chefs Association Apprenticeship Program.
Friday, May 4
So you like eating out, but then you moved to Highlands Ranch (yes, yes, for the schools) — now what? How can you enjoy a good food festival when you're 45 minutes and a $50 Lyft ride away from downtown? This Friday, May 4, you don't have to worry about making the trek to civilization: The Taste of Highlands Ranch is taking over the Eastridge Recreation Center, 9568 South University Boulevard in Highlands Ranch, where you'll be more concerned with restaurants than reps. From 6 to 9 p.m., you'll start the weekend right with unlimited beer, wine and bites from south-side favorites like Raising Cane's, Baron of Bacon, Grist Brewing Company and more, all for just $35. Get the full roster and tickets at Highland Ranch Community Association's website. And the best part of this event? It's 21-and-over, so you'll have one precious night away from those little angels you moved to the Ranch for in the first place. Cheers!
Keep reading for future food and drink events.
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Thursday, May 24
The fight is on! No, it's not a cockfight (though there will certainly be some of that, especially after all the whiskey is consumed), it's Chicken Fight!, Denver's celebration of fried yardbird. From 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 24, the pecking order will be established as Birdcall, Injoi Korean Kitchen, The Post, Au Feu and more go head to head. River North Festival Grounds, 3715 Chestnut Place, hosts the unlimited food-and-drink fest (so plan ahead, as the second-most hotly contested death match will be for parking); tickets will run you $69 to $125 at the Chicken Fight! website.
Friday, September 14, through Sunday, September 16
You've got to be wildly optimistic to make plans for a weekend six months away, but sometimes the event merits the commitment. Such is the case with the Telluride Blues and Brews Festival. There's beer, blues and incredible views, yes, but there's also the six-hour drive from Denver, not to mention the challenge of finding accommodations that won't have you wailing like an old drunk who's out of hooch and whose woman took his dog and left. The festival runs from Friday, September 14, through Sunday, September 16, with more than fifty breweries pouring at the Grand Tasting on Saturday, September 15. Three-day festival, camping and late-night show passes are on sale now ($30 to $200), and single-day tickets ($70 to $75) go on sale June 13 on the festival's website. Don't wait to make your purchase: VIP and RV camping passes are already sold out.
Watch for our weekend culinary calendar on Friday. If you know of a date that should be on these calendars, send information to email@example.com.