Labor Day weekend is upon us, and while you may be mourning the approaching end of summer, there are still plenty of events around town that will dull the pain of the rapidly shortening days. You know about Taste of Colorado, of course; at that annual eating orgy in Civic Center Park September 1 through September 4, you can listen to live music while shaking a turkey leg (see the full Taste of Colorado schedule). You have other tasty options, too; here are five more events that will take you to Labor Day...and a few to plan for as we head into fall.
Friday, September 1
It's a supersized weekend, so why not start it off with a supersized steak? Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse, 8100 East Orchard Road in Greenwood Village, is currently offering a monster of a deal: a forty-ounce all-natural Huwa Reserve Colorado Porterhouse. While $120 may seem a little steep for one steak, consider that forty ounces could easily feed four hungry steak lovers. Reservations are recommended, since there will only be a limited number of the cuts. Call 303-796-0100 for details and reservations (recommended).
And while you may feel gluttonous ordering such a behemoth, rest assured that your dollars are going to a good cause: From Friday, September 1, through Monday, September 4, both the steakhouse and its sibling restaurant, Del Frisco's Grille, 100 St. Paul Street, will be donating 20 percent of all sales to Houston food banks to help victims of Hurricane Harvey. If there's a better reason than that to indulge, we don't know what it is.
Saturday, September 2
Coloradans have such an insatiable taste for craft beer, it seems you could set up a beer festival in a crack house and lines would still extend for blocks. And let's face it: If the beer is good, the venue doesn't matter much. But it's still a pleasant surprise when you can drink a tasty beverage somewhere other than dusty fairgrounds or an overcrowded taproom. For example, at the Brews & Views Beer Fest at Hudson Gardens from 2 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, September 2. You can drink beer from thirty local brewers (including Renegade, Elevation, Banded Oak and Ratio) while spreading out in the expansive garden, enjoying the flowers and shade. That's a far cry from standing in a parking lot while the sun radiates off the asphalt and heats up that sudsy beer. Tickets are $25 to $50 (VIP comes with 1 p.m. entry, a T-shirt, glass and snacks in the VIP area) and are on sale at hudsongardens.org.
Salida is better known for FIBArk than fermentation, though that's changing with Wood's High Mountain Distillery and the annual Brewer's Rendezvous, now in its 21st year. And on Saturday, September 2, the town rounds out its alcohol portfolio with the sixth annual Salida Winefest. Eighteen Colorado wineries will set up shop in beautiful Riverside Park from 1 to 6 p.m., when you can spread out on the banks of the Arkansas River while sipping your way through unlimited wine samples. If you're a locavore oenophile with early-onset grumpiness (is there any other kind?), we suggest hitting this festival sooner rather than later, so you can spend the next six years complaining about how much better the fest was when nobody knew about it. Tickets are a steal at $20; get them at salidawinefest.com.
IKEA isn't the only place in town to get Swedish food this weekend: Charcoal Bistro, 1028 South Gaylord Street, is breaking out the crayfish and meatballs for the summer celebration known as Kraftskiva. From 5 to 10 p.m. on Saturday, September 2, the eatery will be serving all-you-can-eat Scandinavian snacks for $49 (adults, excluding alcohol) and $24.50 (kids twelve and under, also excluding alcohol). The star of the show will be chilled crayfish with dill sauce, but pickled herring, smoked salmon and Swedish meatballs with lingonberries will also be on the menu — and that menu will definitely be tastier than anything you can get at Colorado's favorite Nordic furniture dealer. Find details on Charcoal's Facebook page, which will also direct you to opentable.com for the required reservation. So scrounge up your seafood-eating bib and start cracking your knuckles in preparation for peeling those aquatic arthropods.
Sunday, September 3
If only there was some way to play beer pong, but not not seem like quite the frat boy. Wait — what if you were to lob ping-pong balls into Solo cups of wine instead of beer? The folks at Legacy Vineyards Winery and Tasting Room, 5728 South Rapp Street in Littleton, are betting you'll appreciate the greater sophistication inherent in their Wine Pong Tournament. The games get under way on Sunday, September 3, at 1 p.m.; the $30 entry fee for a team of two gets you wine, grub from McKinner's Pizza Bar and the chance to leave your fellow wine-pongers in the dust. Sign up your duo at eventbrite.com, and if you're itching for some competition but lack a teammate, you can register individually to be paired with another competitor here.
If you're the type who plans ahead, keep reading for more food and drink events...
Tuesday, September 5, through Sunday, September 10
The Denver Food & Wine Festival is upon us, and tickets are still available. Depending on what whets your appetite, they'll set you back a very reasonable $40 to a steep $195 — and there's even a VIP Grand Tasting ticket available for $250 if you want to go all-in. The fest starts our with the Culinary Cinema Series screening of Barbecue on Tuesday, September 5, at 7 p.m. at the Sie FilmCenter, 2510 East Colfax Avenue. The documentary is sure to make your mouth water, which won't be a problem, as the $40 ticket includes bites from Hearth & Dram, Rolling Smoke Bar-B-Que and the Nickel; drinks will be available for purchase at the theater's bar. Snag tickets and find the rest of the festival's schedule at denverfoodandwine.com.
Saturday, September 9
Your last chance to hit Larimer Square's Dining al Fresco this season is on Saturday, September 9, from 5 to 9 p.m. Pull up a chair — right in the middle of Larimer Street between 14th and 15th streets — and enjoy dinner under a late-summer night sky and a canopy of lights. Participating restaurants are taking reservations directly, and many are already fully booked, but there are still tables at Tom's Urban and Russell's Smokehouse. See the complete list of restaurants in on the fun at larimersquare.org, and if you're feeling lucky, call around and hope for a cancellation or two.
Thursday, September 14 through Sunday, September 17
Fall is grape-harvesting season in the Centennial State, and it seems every mountain town is celebrating the season with a wine festival in August and September. From Thursday, September 14, through Sunday, September 17, it's Breckenridge's turn to lure the bikers, hikers and drinkers up the hill with gorgeous fall weather and great wines at the Breckenridge Wine Classic. There are luncheons, seminars, tours, hikes, tastings and bike rides to be had — all of them geared toward highlighting the beverage of honor. The best part about Breckenridge's celebration? Its proximity to Denver: You'll barely have to spend ninety minutes commuting to feel like you're in a different world (though the drive back to Denver might be a different story). A full schedule is up, and tickets ($55 to $145) are on sale now at breckenridgewineclassic.com.
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Tuesday, October 3, and Wednesday, October 4
The Den brothers are throwing a party, and you'll want to add it to your social calendar. On Tuesday, October 3, and Wednesday, October 4, the roof of the parking garage at the corner of South Pearl Street and East Florida Avenue will turn into a veritable Japanese street fair from 5 to 9 p.m. Not only will Toshi and Yasu Kizaki be providing food from Sushi Den, Izakaya Den and Ototo, but they've called on twenty of their Japanese chef friends to hop the pond and lend their talents to the rooftop party. Expect ramen, yakisoba noodles, the hard-to-find-in-Denver okonomiyaki, yakiniku (Japanese barbecue) and lots, lots more. Tickets are $75 and include three drinks (additional beverages will be available for purchase). As with every party the Kizakis host, this one is likely to sell out, so check out sushiden.net asap for details and tickets.