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The Five Best Events on the Culinary Calendar This Week

Hedge Row is one of the 21 restaurants participating in Cherry Creek North Food and Wine this year.
Hedge Row is one of the 21 restaurants participating in Cherry Creek North Food and Wine this year.
Danielle Lirette
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Most of your eating and drinking plans this week probably revolve around the Fourth of July (see our list of Independence Day festivities around Denver if you haven't given much thought to Wednesday yet). But if you're looking for something that's a bit different, a bit less crowded or a bit less nationalistic, consider one of these five food and drink happenings over the next five days, plus more fun times in July and August after the jump.

Go back in time (to at least the 1980s) at Four Mile Historic Park's Independence Celebration.EXPAND
Go back in time (to at least the 1980s) at Four Mile Historic Park's Independence Celebration.
Courtesy Four Mile Historic Park Facebook

Monday, July 2
Monday, July 2, might seem an unlikely choice to celebrate the Fourth of July, but this year it might be the best bet if you want to beat the crowds. You'll have to show up at work the next morning regardless of when you party, but at least Four Mile Historic Park's early Independence Celebration will be more mellow. From 5 to 10 p.m., nine food trucks (including Em's Ice Cream, Rolling Smoke Grill, Mac 'N Noodles, Devil Dog Grill and more) will be serving food alongside a beer garden, an ’80s cover band and views of Glendale's fireworks display. Admission to the park, 715 South Forest Street, is free, though donations are encouraged. Find out more on Facebook.

Tuesday, July 3
Departure, the sleek Cherry Creek restaurant at 249 Columbine Street, is doubling down on its modern Asian cuisine with half-priced bottles of sake all summer. As part of Departure's Summer of Sake series, bottles of the Japanese spirit are fifty per cent off from 4 p.m. to close every Tuesday through the end of the season. With 25 different bottles on the menu, there's something for everyone, whether you're a fan of honjozo, junmai or ginjo.

Huitlacoche is often served in quesadillas and tacos in Mexico.EXPAND
Huitlacoche is often served in quesadillas and tacos in Mexico.

Wednesday, July 4
Englewood's ode to strong drinks and flaky quick bread, The Whiskey Biscuit, at 3299 South Broadway, is broadening the culinary horizons of suburbanites with its "I Can't Believe I Ate It" series. Previous installments have served up frog legs; this month's edition, which kicks off on Wednesday, July 4, boasts the significantly more challenging (to pronounce, if not to ingest) huitlacoche (also known as corn smut or Mexican truffle). The fungus infects corn kernels and causes them to erupt into blue-gray, mushroom-like growths on the ear; they're as tasty as they are ugly. The Biscuit's version with be served with chicharrones until supplies are gone. Find out more on the bar's Facebook page.

Turning Pop Rocks into real food is magic.EXPAND
Turning Pop Rocks into real food is magic.
Flickr/Brian SB

Thursday, July 5
If your kid's been begging for Fizzing Whizbees, Exploding Bonbons and Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans since they were old enough to know what candy was, take a page out of Honeydukes' book and send them off to the Boulder Public Library, 1001 Arapahoe Avenue, for a lesson on Pop Rock cuisine. From 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 5, the fine folks at the library will guide kids in creating treats with the fizzy candy. The free event is open to students in grades six through twelve; find out more on the library's website.

Friday, July 6
Maine Shack, the latest venture from the culinary team behind Bar Dough, isn't scheduled to open until late this summer (and in this restaurant environment, we wouldn't be surprised that stretches to late fall), but you'll be able to get a preview of its food on Friday, July 6 (4 to 11 p.m.) and Saturday, July 7 (11 a.m. to 11 p.m.) when the seafood shack temporarily takes over Bar Dough's kitchen at 2227 West 32nd Avenue. On the menu: four, count 'em, four types of lobster rolls; whole fried clams; fried scallops; and the improbable New England-style roast beef sandwich — which, horrifyingly (at least to Southwestern tastes), is topped with barbecue sauce. Reservations aren't required (unless you're talking about that roast beef, in which case they are mandatory); the restaurant will be set up for counter service, so just show up with an appetite.

Keep reading for future food and drink events.

Cornmeal cookies at last year's Slow Food Nations.
Cornmeal cookies at last year's Slow Food Nations.
Jacqueline Collins

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. ""The Big Eat 2018 wants to give a special shout-out to restaurants featuring plant-based bites in an effort to make a statement about our food system," says event chair Daniel Asher (who's also the chef at Boulder's River and Woods). Looks for vegetarian and vegan offerings, which will make up about 20 percent of the festival's bites, from Ad Hominem, Aloy Modern Thai, American Grind, Brightmarten, Coohills, Dunbar Kitchen & Tap House, Duo, LoHi Steakbar, Panzano, Snooze, Brider, the Bindery and the Culinary Quick Start Program.

Saints and Sinners Car Club will be at Tacolandia again this year.EXPAND
Saints and Sinners Car Club will be at Tacolandia again this year.
Danielle Lirette

Friday, July 13, through Sunday, July 15
Last year's first Slow Food Nations festival (an outgrowth of the Slow Food movement, which aims to preserve local food traditions and culture) landed in Denver with a bang, and it's gearing up to take over town again. Larimer Square will be transformed into the Taste Marketplace, with over eighty food and beverage vendors, a family pavilion, demos, panel discussions and a bookstore; venues around town will host tastings, dinners and workshops on everything from sake to food waste to #MeToo. Most events are free, but tickets are on sale now for select events at the Slow Food Nations website. Hurry over to make sure you don't get left out — the only time you want to move quickly this weekend.

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.

Saints and Sinners Car Club will be at Tacolandia again this year.EXPAND
Saints and Sinners Car Club will be at Tacolandia again this year.
Danielle Lirette

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.

If you know of a date that should be on this calendar, send information to cafe@westword.com.

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