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The Eight Best Events on the Culinary Calendar This Weekend

Dine under the stars in Larimer Square.EXPAND
Dine under the stars in Larimer Square.
Courtesy of Larimer Square
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This weekend is a mashup of epic proportions. Not only are the classic combos — grilling and burgers, beer and tacos, blues and barbecue — making appearances, but the less well-known pairings of modern art and dinner, science and snark, and beer and fundraising are in the mix. (Our takeaway? Everything goes with beer.) Keep reading for eight of the best food and drink events from Friday, July 20, through Sunday, July 22.

Niman Ranch burgers will be on sale at Marczyk's Friday night.EXPAND
Niman Ranch burgers will be on sale at Marczyk's Friday night.
Courtesy Marczyk Fine Foods

Friday, July 20
Join a cookout for a good cause on Friday, July 20, at both locations of Marczyk Fine Foods, 770 East 17th Avenue and 5100 East Colfax Avenue, from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Proceeds from Friday night's burger sales will benefit the Niman Ranch Next Generation Scholarship Fund, which aims to support young people who want to maintain traditional farming and ranching practices in a time when small family farms are endangered. For $8.99, get a seven-ounce, fresh-ground Niman Ranch beef patty on a brioche bun, and support the next generation of local farmers.

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.

If you can't finish all your tacos at Taco Fest, you'll be unmasked.
If you can't finish all your tacos at Taco Fest, you'll be unmasked.
Courtesy Sanitas Brewing Facebook

Saturday, July 21
Habitat for Humanity is many a corporation's go-to for team-building and do-gooding. And we can see why: The home-ownership program does a fantastic job building homes with and for low-income families. If you're one of those who wants to support the nonprofit organization but think that handling hammers and staple guns around your co-workers might end poorly for all involved, visit the far less fraught Blues & BBQ for Better Housing Festival on Saturday, July 21. The party takes place at Edgewater's Citizens Park, 5570 West 24th Avenue; the $10 admission will go to Habitat, and guests will be able to jam to nine hours of local bands, as well as purchase ’cue and beer from Joyride Brewing. Now, isn't that better than trying not to put a nail through Christine in HR's eye? Get your tickets at the Blues & BBQ website.

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.

Former chemist Yvette d'Entremont took on blogger and influencer Vani Hari (aka Food Babe) in her 2015 article "The 'Food Babe' Blogger Is Full of Shit" and immediately became our kind of girl. She parlayed her viral notoriety into a debunking blog of her own (scibabe.com) and on Saturday, July 21, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., she's coming to the Lowry Conference Center, 1061 Akron Way, to tell you how to survive bad nutrition headlines ("Chocolate is a weight loss supplement!"; "This pill melts your fat away!") and why the four horsemen of the Apocalypse aren't actually plundering humanity on a tide of artificial sweeteners — all based on actual scientific evidence, not shrill hysteria. Tickets to the lecture, $20, are on sale at secularhub.org; you'll leave educated and refreshed — and much richer than if you'd bought those vitamins you've been seeing on Instagram.

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.

Hang out in a hangar on Saturday, July 21 and party for a good cause. Nativ Hotel is hosting a posh bash at the XJet hangar at Centennial Airport from 8 p.m. to midnight, with a percentage of the ticket total going toward the Fallen Officer Fund of Douglas County Foundation. Head to 8201 Interport Boulevard, or take advantage of complimentary transportation from the County Line light-rail station, departing every 20-25 minutes. See the event's website for details and tickets, which range from $75 to $300, depending on whether you're a coach or first-class kind of flyer. Food, booze, music, raffles and other entertainment are part of the package.

Fusion Fiesta food truck combines tacos and sandwiches for this weekend's festival food.EXPAND
Fusion Fiesta food truck combines tacos and sandwiches for this weekend's festival food.
Courtesy Fiesta Fusion Facebook

Sunday, July 22
If you've hit a few festivals so far this summer — be they food, beer or music — you know the financial repercussions that can result from of having fun in the sun (Top Ramen for the next week, black hole of credit-card debt, crippling fiscal insecurity). Luckily, on Sunday, July 22, Meier Skis, at 970 Yuma Street, is hosting a free Skis, Suds and Soul Summer Party from 3 to 7 p.m. Admission and music from Shots Fired won't cost you anything, and while drinks, beer and food from Fiesta Fusion and  Punch and Judy's Pot Pies aren't complimentary, 100 percent of the proceeds will go to Wish of a Lifetime, an organization dedicated to easing the isolation of senior citizens and providing fulfilling experiences for them. And since you don't have to sell a kidney to get into this party (which you can find out more about on Facebook), you can actually afford to throw some money at both a good cause and a good time.

Keep reading for future food and drink events.

The brand-new Q House is participating in this year's Tasty Colfax; its sacha barbecue spare ribs are shown here.EXPAND
The brand-new Q House is participating in this year's Tasty Colfax; its sacha barbecue spare ribs are shown here.
Mark Antonation

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.

We only have eyes for tacos.
We only have eyes for tacos.
Danielle Lirette

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 someone holds a food festival and there aren't any sliders, did it really happen?
If someone holds a food festival and there aren't any sliders, did it really happen?
Danielle Lirette

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.

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

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