It's going to be a hot one this weekend, with temperatures nearing 100 degrees. But you can cool off with cats, ’cue, comedy and cacti at bars and restaurants around town. Here are six of the best food and drink events over the next few days, along with upcoming events to mark on your culinary calendar.
Friday, July 6
Ever gone to a music festival and thought, "If only there was a way to spend more money here today"? Behold! The LoHi Bazaar BBQ is here. Starting at 4 p.m. on Friday, July 6, West 32nd Avenue between Zuni and Tejon streets will be taken over by this music fest, cookout and outdoor market mashup. And while there will be plenty of places to spend your pennies (Barbecue! Bars! Baubles!), entrance to the event is free. Pit masters from Au Feu, Rolling Smoke, GQue, Pepperbelly and more will be selling their smoked meats alongside a weekend-long lineup of bands, so go early and often; the fair runs Saturday (noon to 10 p.m.) and Sunday (noon to 6 p.m.) Find out more at the Denver Bazaar website.
Saturday, July 7
Hudson Hill, the cozy coffeehouse and bar at 619 East 13th Avenue, is one of the best joints to have opened its doors in the last two years — and it also makes one of the best grilled cheese sandwiches in town. On Saturday, July 7, though, the menu will have a different flavor, when Axes, a new Middle Eastern caterer in town, takes over the reins. From 3 to 9 p.m., za'atar fries, garlic labneh cheese, hummus and the alarmingly exciting falafel tots (seriously, why is this the first we're hearing of this fantastic-sounding creation?) will be served alongside creative cocktails. We'll be requesting eleven orders of those tots.
If you're not a fan of cherry pie, we can't blame you; most are made with sickly sweet canned pie filling that ends up the texture of tapioca while imparting a slightly metallic tang. But the real thing — made with tart Montmorency cherries — is a joy. Because Colorado isn't famous for cherries, it may surprise you to learn that Loveland once had the largest orchard west of the Mississippi river, with 10,000 acres dedicated to the fruit and three canneries in town. Denver's northern neighbor is still dotted with cherry trees, and on Saturday, July 7, the town is hosting its annual Cherry Pie Celebration from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Loveland Museum/Gallery, 503 North Lincoln Avenue. Get a slice of sweet-tart pie and ice cream for just $4, and hear music from Danielle Ate the Sandwich (not pie, Danielle? It's delicious!). Ambitious bakers can even enter their own creations; find out more at the Museum's website.
Do you like beer? Of course you do. Do you like having a pet who glares at you balefully while knocking your beer glass off the table? Apparently lots of you do. And now you can pay for the privilege at the Denver Dumb Friends League's Catwalk on Saturday, July 7. From 6 to 9 p.m., the shelter at 2080 South Quebec Street will be turned into a beer garden, with guests sampling brews from Comrade Brewing Co., Brew on Broadway, Copper Kettle Brewing Co. and Westfax Brewing Co. Food trucks will be on site as well, and there will even be a wine tasting for dog...er, wine people. Tickets are just $20 and are on sale now at the League's website.
Mark Twain and Rebel Restaurant have something in common: Reports of their deaths have been greatly exaggerated. Our favorite place in town for head, Rebel, at 3763 Wynkoop Street, is still in business and has been running its monthly Rebel Yell comedy shows for just over a year. But all good things must come to an end, and Saturday, July 7, is the final installment of the free showcase. At 10 p.m., comics Katie Bowman, Harris Alterman and Caitie Hannan will take the stage while the kitchen turns out its excellent (and also once-monthly) chicken wings. Can't stay up that late? Then squeeze in a nap that day, because there's no telling when you'll get those wings again.
Sunday, July 8
On a scale of one to ten, how hipster is planting a succulent garden while you're drinking craft beer? That's right: eleven. But you know what? Beer is great and succulents are adorable (and hard to kill), so we're all for Plant Nite at Skyline Beer Garden on Sunday, July 8. From 3 to 5 p.m., fans of aloes and ales alike will gather at 1601 Arapahoe Street to create a miniature garden with help from a professional. Tickets, $60, include instruction and all materials — though not beer, which is probably wise since the class is suitable for kids over seven. Find out more on Plant Nite's Facebook page, and if you miss out on tickets for this event, take heart: There are an additional four sessions through September.
Keep reading for future food and drink events.
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). Look 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.
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, Capitol Grille, TAG, Osteria Marco, Cru, Rioja, Green Russell and Ocean Prime) are taking reservations directly, so call your first pick to see if you can get in. Too late? No worries: The party continues on August 18 and September 15.
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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 & 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.