This weekend has something for everyone. Whether you're into craft fairs (hipster or OG), communal eating, creepy dolls (there's no other kind, really) or cleverly named cocktails, the Denver dining scene has your back. Here are nine great events from Friday, December 1, through Sunday, December 3.
Friday, December 1
Romano's Italian Restaurant is one of a dwindling number of red-sauce joints in Denver. It's been around for fifty years (an eternity in the restaurant industry), and on Friday, December 1, the Romano family is celebrating the restaurant's longevity by rolling prices way, way back to 1967. For one day, diners can get a small cheese pizza for a buck, spaghetti and a meatball for $2.35, and Pepsi products for twenty cents — the same price, offered by the same family, as on Romano's opening day. The promotion runs from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., so get over to 5666 South Windermere Street in Littleton and be a part of Denver's restaurant history for a day.
With December comes the return of the Flea. While dog lovers may cringe at that, they can relax upon realizing that we're talking about a holiday market, not a parasitic bloodsucker (unless there are some egregiously overpriced goods for sale). The shopping starts on Friday, December 1, from 6 to 9 p.m., with a pre-Flea shopping party; $35 gets you in the door and includes five cocktails or beers while you go about your holiday consumerism. Choose from a variety of Great Divide beers (including two versions of Yeti Imperial Stout), as well as the aptly named holiday cocktails Headlocks and Apologies, Suitable Alibi, and Whispers and Allegations. The Holiday Flea will run Saturday, December 2 (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.), and Sunday, December 3 (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.), at the Sports Castle, 1000 Broadway. Admission for both days is just $5; find out more and get a complete list of vendors at denverflea.com.
There's no other restaurant in town with a name as appropriately "now" as Troy Guard's HashTAG. The triple-entendred eatery may have the market cornered on clever and self-referential, but that doesn't mean you won't find a little old-fashioned charm there this weekend. On December 1, 2 and 3, from 4 to 6 p.m., the breakfast joint at 10195 East 29th Drive in Stapleton is transforming the dining room into Santa's workshop for a gingerbread-house party. One kid and one adult can sign up for $74 by calling HashTAG at 303-993-6896 or emailing Sarah@tag-restaurant.com. While the young ones toil over their confectionery construction projects (hopefully without endless permitting delays from city officials), parents can enjoy appetizers and wine. All that hard work will earn little Cindy Lou Who some hot cocoa and kid-friendly snacks. Too late to make it this weekend? Shoot for an encore presentation on December 8, 9 and 10 — and don't forget to share your kids' creations on social media: #hashtag!
Saturday, December 2
While shoppers can't get enough of huge indie artisan markets these days, it seems we've collectively forgotten the original DIY community exchange: the church fair. Want to meet the woman who knit those fuzzy socks? It's that little old lady who calls everyone "sweetie" and sits in the third pew every week. And the Dominican Sisters crank out a mean strawberry-rhubarb jam for a taste of summer in the dead of winter. To experience the craft fair in its original form — before it was tarted up by admission fees and Instagram ads — check out St. Dominic's Parish Church Arts and Crafts Fair on Saturday, December 2 (8 a.m. to 6 p.m.), and Sunday, December 3 (8 a.m. to 2 p.m.). The church basement at 2905 Federal Boulevard will host sales of chocolates, fair trade coffee, tea, jam and homemade tamales (which everyone knows is the best part of Christmas), as well as arts and crafts and a visit from St. Nick on Sunday at 11:30 a.m. It doesn't get any more indie than this.
Although the two stores don't technically count as houses, Marczyk Fine Foods is having an open house at both its locations on Saturday, December 2, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The stores will offer 15 percent discounts on all purchases throughout the day, but the real deal are free tastings of some favorite makers' products (like cured meats and coffee and chocolate and pickles and kombucha) from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Find out more here.
Wordplay is on the menu at Coperta's ParumpumpumPUNCH class on Saturday, December 2. Anyone who's had a drink at the Italian eatery knows the lengths the bar staff goes to in order to create (and name!) their delicious cocktails. And from 3 to 4:30 p.m., you, too, can learn the art of mixing seasonal punches with punchy names (BourbON Dasher, on Dancer, on Prancer and Vixen, anyone?). For $45, you'll enjoy bites from the kitchen while you sample — and learn how to make — giant bowls of boozy cheer that far surpass last year's efforts, when you just dumped a bottle of swaggy rum into the bowl when Mom's back was turned and pretended you had nothing to do with the ensuing chaos. Call the restaurant, 400 East 20th Avenue, at 720-749-4666, to reserve your spot for the class.
We've written about Communal Platter, the app that brings chefs and diners together, before. On Saturday, December 2, the enterprise is celebrating the year's end with its biggest dinner yet: a Ugandan feast serving a hundred diners hungry for the East African cuisine. Starting at 6 p.m. at The Posner Center for International Development, 1031 33rd Street, the night will include a wealth of family-style dishes (mashed plantains with peanut paste, samusas, beef stew, pulao and goat skewers) and Ugandan music; it will also raise funds for a trio of projects benefiting Ugandan refugees. Tickets for the dinner start at $30; go to communalplatter.com for details about the party and to purchase your ticket.
There are few things as satisfying as eating with your hands (just think of the scorn that's heaped on those poor weirdos who eat pizza with a knife and fork). The Tagalog language even has a word for it: kamayan. And on Saturday, December 2, you can eat Filipino-style at the Kamayan Holiday Dinner Feast. Cakeheads, 7530 South University Boulevard, is hosting chef Leah Everleigh for a pop-up dinner at 7:30 p.m.; Filipino dishes (which are, sadly, still hard to find in Denver) will be laid out on banana leaves, and there will be no utensils other than the ones at the end of your arms. Tickets are $75 (excluding beer and wine, which will be available for purchase) at eventbrite.com.
Sunday, December 3
If your little one has an unnatural attachment to his or her doll, chances are he or she has held at least one tea party for it. The Oxford Hotel, 1600 17th Street, knows all children (both living and inanimate) need a proper high tea during the holiday season, so its Dolls' Tea Party will take place on Sunday, December 3. Your child can bring his/her doll to nibble on tea sandwiches and sweets, all washed down by hot chocolate and followed by a performance from the Arvada Dance Company. Choose from two sittings (11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.) when you purchase your tickets ($45 for children under twelve, $60 for adults, free for the creepy doll that keeps returning to the house after you set it on fire in the trash can) at eventbrite.com.
Your December calendar is probably filling up quickly, so be sure to save room for these future food and drink events...
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Thursday, December 7
It's no secret that Bravo's Top Chef came to Colorado to film its fifteenth season earlier this year. You can finally start planning your watch party, as the show will premiere on Thursday, December 7, at 8 p.m. The contestants traveled from Sports Authority Field to Telluride to Aspen Food + Wine and were tasked with preparing everything from the innocuous Denver omelet to the infamous Rocky Mountain oyster. Tune in to see how they fare — as well as to catch a glimpse of local legends (and a former winner!) Alex Seidel, Hosea Rosenberg, Jennifer Jasinski and Frank Bonanno.
Saturday, December 16
Put up the aluminum pole, brace yourself for the Airing of Grievances and start training for the Feats of Strength — it's Festivus! And while traditional Festivus dinners involve covertly sipping from a flask while those around you look on soberly and disapprovingly, Denver Beer Festivus gives you the opportunity to celebrate the season with like-minded lushes. From 4 to 7 p.m. on Saturday, December 16, join your real tribe at Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum, 7711 East Academy Boulevard. Tickets will run you $40 to $65 and are already on sale at denverbeerfestivus.com. ’Tis the season!
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