This week is all about beer — bookended by a couple of dinners, of course. You can get beer with children's books, beer with art (or as art), and beer with a history lesson. Not a fan of the frothy drink? Get out of town — to dinners in Boulder or Vail. Here are five great events over the next few days, as well as other dates for your culinary calendar in the weeks to come.
Monday, July 16
In 1880, Denver welcomed former President Ulysses S. Grant to town, throwing a dinner loaded with Colorado trout, pike, prairie chicken and snipe, as well as locally farmed produce and meats. Boulder chef Kyle Mendenhall came across the event's original menu at the History Colorado Center and decided to use it as a launching point for Arcana's new Colorado Heritage Dinner series. While the original dinner served four entrees, a whopping sixteen desserts and multiple other courses, Mendenhall is paring down his version, so there won't be turtle soup or prairie chicken. But he's looking forward to re-creating the "brook trout fried with rashers" from the original menu, noting that the kitchen doesn't often get the chance to match fish with bacon. This is the first in an ongoing series. "Ideally, I'd love to do a partnership with the history museum," Mendenhall says. The four-course dinner will be available at Arcana, 909 Walnut Street in Boulder, from 5 to 9 p.m. on Monday, July 16, for $75; call 303-444-3885 or visit arcanarestaurant.com for reservations.
Tuesday, July 17
Any parent who's tried to have a nice happy hour out without first securing a sitter knows the struggle of bringing their brood to the brewery; kids get bored and dart around underfoot, dodging both the feet and ire of adults who aren't accompanied by ankle-biters. But Diebolt Brewing, 3855 Mariposa Street, has come up with a neat solution in its monthly Story Time. From 4 to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, July 17, a local book rep will be on hand to read to your kiddos and hopefully stop them wreaking havoc in the taproom, while you can enjoy your beer, free from whining and dirty looks. Books will also be available for purchase; fifty percent of the proceeds will be donated to Sun Valley Youth Center in the form of free books. Well-behaved children, a good cause and good beer: We'll drink to that.
Wednesday, July 18
It's rare that we recommend an event south of Parker, but the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, 30 West Dale Street, knows the way to our artistic hearts is through our gullets. San Francisco artist Tom Marioni has been staging his installation, The Act of Drinking Beer With Friends Is the Highest Form of Art, across the globe since he invited sixteen friends to have a drink at the Oakland Museum in 1970. Now the concept has traveled to Colorado, where it will run at the CSFAC through September 9 — and each Wednesday during the show's run, patrons will be part of the art themselves as free beer is served to from 5 to 6:30 p.m. The series opens on Wednesday, July 18, with a performance by Marioni. While admission to the Fine Arts Center is free after 5 p.m., RSVP is required; find out more at the CSFAC website.
Thursday, July 19
We've all seen the heartbreaking photos: tragic images of barrels of beer and moonshine being broken open in the streets, alcohol flooding the gutters during those dark years from 1920 through 1933 known as Prohibition. Even today, it breaks the hearts of all red-blooded, spirit-loving Americans. In response, Renegade Brewing, 925 West 9th Avenue, seems to be taking a page from Edmund Burke's book ("Those who don't know history are destined to repeat it") by hosting a lecture on Colorado's Prohibition history — which actually began in 1916. (Be careful, brewers: that's what happens when you make lousy craft beer.) Historian Sam Bock will speak starting at 6 p.m., and your $8 ticket will get you a glass of 1916, the taproom's pre-Prohibition lager. Get your tickets at Eventbrite.
Friday, July 20
If you're heading for the hills to beat the heat this weekend, you don't need to skip great food and local produce. On Friday, July 20, the Vail Farmers' Market is hosting its second farm-to-table dinner of the season from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Chefs from Vail restaurants The 10th, Gessner (at Hotel Talisa), Hooked and Left Bank will be cooking up a storm on the 100 block of East Meadow Drive, where guests will indulge in Vail's rustic-chic vibe along with the food. Tickets are $115 at eventbrite.com and include beer from Vail Brewing Co. and other adult beverages. Can't get away on short notice? Plan ahead; the final dinner of the season will be happening on August 24.
Keep reading for future food and drink events.
Saturday, July 21
With Denver's vaunted 300 days of sunshine per year, you'd think eating outdoors in our town would be a no-brainer — and it is, until it isn't. We've had meals outside that have been suddenly and unexpectedly submerged in inches of rainwater, and barbecues that have been bungled by sub-sixty-degree temps in June. But even given the risks you run eating without a roof over your head, Larimer Square's Dining al Fresco on Saturday, July 21, is one of the most appealing summer restaurant events around, as the street is blocked off, lights are strung up, and everyone gathers in a collegial atmosphere for dinner under the stars. This year's participating restaurants (Bistro Vendôme, Ted's Montana Grill, Corridor 44, The Capitol Grille, TAG, Osteria Marco, Cru, Rioja, Green Russell and Ocean Prime) are taking reservations directly, so call your first pick to see if they can get you in. Too late? No worries; the party continues on August 18 and September 15.
Another outdoor dining experience that rises above the rest is MCA Denver's Dinner Society on Saturday, July 21. From 7 to 10 p.m., connoisseurs of both fine art and fine food will receive a tour of the MCA's current exhibitions before settling in for a four-course rooftop dinner prepared by chef Linda Hampsten Fox of the Bindery, accompanied by cocktails from the Family Jones. While the menu isn't finalized, everything Fox touches seems to turn to edible gold; the buffalo-milk burrata scented with lemon and the heirloom-carrot ravioli topped with unctuous carrot-top butter on the Bindery's current menu left us speechless (partly from awe, partly from being unable to stop eating). Tickets, $125, are for sale at eventbrite.com now.
Tuesday, July 24
It's been a long time since Colfax meant nothing but hookers and blow. Today it means great eateries, breweries, a few old Denver dive bars hanging on by a thread — and, yes, a few hookers. But Tasty Colfax, the annual bar and restaurant crawl on East Colfax Avenue from York Street to Colorado Boulevard, is celebrating its tenth anniversary on Tuesday, July 24. Nab a ticket for just $25 at bluebirdbeat.com and you'll get free food and drink specials at 25 establishments. Think a cocktail in the venerable Bastien's sunken bar; bites at tiny To the Wind Bistro (it may be the only time you can get into the minuscule spot); and modern Chinese cuisine at the new and already loved Q House. Get your tickets now; the price goes up to $30 if you wait too long.
Saturday, August 11
How long has it been since you've been to Cherry Creek for dinner? Given the massive construction and minimal parking in the neighborhood, chances are it's been a while. But on Saturday, August 11, the Cherry Creek North Food and Wine festival is an ideal way to explore the area's many bars and restaurants on foot, getting a breadth of bites without having to make numerous trips to the belly of the beast. Over twenty establishments will line Fillmore Plaza, at First Avenue and Fillmore Street, between 6 and 9 p.m.; our favorites include Hedge Row, Quality Italian, Blue Island Oyster Bar, Del Frisco's Grille and the ever-popular Enstrom Candies. Get your early-bird tickets, $65 or $85 (VIPs enter at 5 p.m.), at cherrycreeknorth.com; ticket prices increase on July 9.
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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Sunday, September 30
It's never too early to start planning for Feast, Westword's annual celebration of Denver's restaurant scene. This year's party returns to the McNichols Building, 144 West Colfax Avenue, on Sunday, September 30. There will be unlimited bites from over forty local eateries, live entertainment, unlimited drink samples and unlimited merriment from noon to 3 p.m., especially if you opt for VIP tickets, which get you in an hour early and include an open VIP bar. Tickets start at $30 and go on sale starting July 14 at westwordfeast.com.
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