Bars and restaurants around town are opening their doors wide this weekend to welcome the first days of summer. And there are a wealth of events to choose from: Browsing the farmers' market, cheering on World Cup soccer and dancing on the patio are among the best food and drink events from Friday, June 22, through Sunday, June 24.
Friday, June 22
La Chiva, 1417 South Broadway, made the leap from food truck to brick-and-mortar restaurant a year ago, and this weekend, the Colombian eatery is celebrating its inaugural year of serving fried green plantains, arepas, chicharrones and chorizo (sometimes in one great, messy, glorious dish) alongside refajos (beer and soda cocktails) and aguardiente (cane-sugar liquor). On Friday, June 22, happy-hour pricing on drinks will run all day; the party continues on Saturday, June 23, with anniversary dishes and drinks, live music and salsa dancing. Cap off the weekend with Sunday brunch and the Colombia v. Poland World Cup match at noon. Feliz cumpleaños a todos!
Saturday, June 23
It's not quite peach season, but another delicious fruit from Palisade is already making its way to the Front Range: cherries. For fans of the glossy red stone fruit, nothing can beat the sweet-tart burst of flavor the little jewels provide. On Saturday, June 23, chef and co-owner of Coperta, Paul C. Reilly, is hitting the Union Station Farmers' Market, 1701 Wynkoop Street, to pick out the best bushels before heading back to his restaurant at 400 East 20th Avenue and cooking a three-course lunch with his haul. Guests will meet at the market at noon, where they'll get tips on picking produce; the cherry-centric lunch will be served at 1:30 p.m. Pickled cherries, ricotta and mint; chicken liver agnolotti with cherries, Chartreuse and mustard greens; and cherry galette with gelato are on the menu for $69. Call the restaurant at 720-749-4666 to reserve your spot at the table.
We don't know what happens in other cities, but when you drink beer in Denver, you're often donating to a good cause. Dogfish Head isn't a Colorado brewery, but it's providing the suds for “Save the San Juans Saturday” at Avanti Food & Beverage, 3200 Pecos Street on Saturday, June 23. Buy a Dogfish Head Flesh & Blood IPA any time between 11 a.m. and last call, and Avanti will donate the entire price of the beer to the Community Emergency Relief Fund, until all four kegs of the beer run out. CERF provides relief efforts for community emergencies in southwestern Colorado. The overall goal is to raise $500,000 for help with recovery from the 416 fire, including covering emergency food, transportation and shelter expenses in La Plata and San Juan counties. Even if the beer doesn't sell out the same day, Avanti will keep donating until it does.
It's finally, officially summer. Now put down your milkshake IPAs, Denverites, and start swilling rosé and spritzes — because who wants to sit on a patio drinking cloudy, barely cool beer in the heat of the day? Just kidding: You can drink whatever you want. But for those of you who want to imbibe without getting hammered before mid-afternoon, check out Urban Farmer's Spritz Social on Saturday, June 23. The restaurant, at 1659 Wazee Street, will be mixing up ice-cold, feather-light cocktails to help you beat the heat and still drink all day; think gin, lime sorbet, absinthe and Korbel, or vodka, amaro, Korbel and strawberries. Reservations aren't required; just show up between 2 and 8 p.m. prepared to celebrate the summer.
Four Loko fans, rejoice! If you were a devotee — before the brand changed its recipe to exclude caffeine — you can re-create the experience of simultaneously consuming booze and caffeine at Zuni Street Brewing's Coldbrews and Cold Brews event on Saturday, June 23. The brewery, 2355 West 29th Avenue, and Sixth Wave Coffee have teamed up to offer what's basically a DIY version of the controversial cans, with $14 getting you four beers paired with four coffees. This is a benefit, and proceeds will go to Children's Hospital Colorado's pediatric mental health department. Tickets are on sale now at Eventbrite.
If you're going to show up to a party, you'd better be ready to dance. And Adrift, at 218 South Broadway, is preparing you for its monthly luau on Sunday, June 24, by offering hula lessons on Saturday, June 23. From 4 to 5 p.m., instructors from Kalama Polynesian Dancers will teach landlubbers how to swing their hips to island tunes for just $10. If you can't make it this weekend, don't fret; classes are scheduled each Saturday through September 1. Pick up your ticket (which includes a Macadamia Nut Chi-Chi cocktail) at Eventbrite.
Sunday, June 24
The idea of a performance of Comedy of Errors might bring to mind a stodgy audience, silently and reverently hanging on the Bard's every word. But that wasn't the case when Shakespeare's plays were performed in his lifetime; there was heckling, there was innuendo, there were fart jokes, there was ale. Re-create the authentic experience at the Wit's Shakesbeer on Sunday, June 24, at (aptly) Fiction Beer Company. Join the players and the audience — all of whom will be imbibing — at the taproom, 7101 East Colfax Avenue, for a condensed and tipsy version of the sixteenth-century slapstick play. Can't make it this weekend? Performances continue throughout the summer at Ratio Beerworks and Black Shirt Brewing Co.; visit Shakesbeer's Facebook page for details about the free shows.
Those who don't mind the crowds and revel in seeing and being seen at the summer's hottest food event won't want to delay in buying their tickets for Cochon555, the pork-centric food festival happening on Sunday, June 24. Competitions started in NYC in January and have been popping up in major food cities across the country; things will wrap up here at the Renaissance Denver Stapleton Hotel, 3801 Quebec Street, from 4 to 7:30 p.m. Competing chefs Brother Luck (Four by Brother Luck), Adam Brantz (Ultreia), Cindhura Reddy (Spuntino), Kyle Foster (Julep) and Nate Singer (Blackbelly Butcher) will each create the most delectable and luxurious bites using a heritage-breed hog, while winemakers and bartenders keep the booze flowing. Tickets, $130 to $200, are on sale now at Cochon's website.
Keep reading for future food and drink events.
Tuesday, June 26, and Wednesday, June 27
If ever there was a culinary power duo that could pull off a bash with an all-star lineup and sellout crowds on a Tuesday, it's Toshi and Yasu Kizaki, the chef and owners of Izakaya Den, Ototo and Sushi Den. This year's rooftop party is expanding to two days: Tuesday, June 26, and Wednesday, June 27, on the roof of Sushi Den's parking garage at 1501 Pearl Street. From 6 to 10 p.m., visiting Japanese chefs will be cooking up yatai, street food commonly found at festivals, while Denver chefs Alex Seidel, Paul Reilly and Troy Guard will join the fun by making their own interpretation of those dishes. Find out more about the party at sushiden.net and pick up tickets, $90 or $110, at Eventbrite.
Wednesday, June 27
Anyone with even a passing familiarity with California wine has probably heard of Cakebread Cellars; the vineyard's name conjures sugary-sweet desserts, but it produces some fine wines from the Napa and Anderson valleys. On Wednesday, June 27, Cakebread is leaving the left coast and coming to Ocean Prime, 1465 Larimer Street, for a Marine Terroir wine dinner. The event is designed to showcase how terroir — the influence sun, soil, climate and water has on flavor — plays out in both wine and seafood. The dinner runs from 6 to 8 p.m. and costs $75; call Ocean Prime at 303-825-3663 to book your table.
Thursday, June 28
If it's summer in Colorado, there must be a taco festival just around the corner. Celebrate the world's perfect food (compact, handheld, delicious) at Top Taco on Thursday, June 28. This year, the fiesta is moving from RiNo to Stanley Marketplace, 2501 Dallas Street in Aurora, where unlimited tacos, booze and parking await attendees (okay, the parking won't be unlimited, but it will be a hell of a lot better than previous years). Tickets are $75 or $135 at eventbrite.com; snap yours up before the event sells out.
Thursday, July 12
How much would you pay for bites from 65 of Denver's top restaurants? Could you even fit 65 bites into your belly? Now's your chance to find out; on Thursday, July 12, the Big Eat returns to the Denver Performing Arts Complex at 14th and Curtis streets for a food festival of epic proportions. For just a buck per bite — that's right, $65 — guests will get food from Denver's best as well as unlimited drinks. Bar Helix, the Bindery, Tavernetta and Low Country Kitchen are just a few of the restaurants making an appearance at this blowout. Go to eatdenver.com for a complete list of participating restaurants and tickets.
Sunday, August 19
Westword's Tacolandia returns to Civic Center Park, Broadway and Colfax Avenue, with more than forty of Denver's favorite Mexican restaurants and taco joints serving their takes on street tacos (or as they're known to non-hipsters: tacos). Enjoy unlimited samples and lots of live entertainment. For complete information, go to westwordtacolandia.com. This isn't a competition, it's a celebration — so come hungry and get ready for a wide variety of great Mexican eats, from the smallest mom-and-pop shops to the city's most popular cantinas.
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