What are the basics of a successful weekend? Brews (both the beer and coffee kind) and burritos. That's it. It's even in the Bible, in the lesser-known book of Bathsheba 1:06: Man shall live by beer and burritos alone. So brace yourself for these six food and drink events that will cover all your bases, and keep reading for future happenings in the months to come.
Friday, March 1
Everyone knows March comes in like a lion, but the Denver Botanic Gardens, 1007 York Street, is more interested in the March Hare this month. On Friday, March 1, From 6 to 9 p.m., the DBG will host an Alice in Wonderland-themed evening. Like the famous Wonderland tea party, this one will serve mock turtle soup and sugar cookies while you sip tea (you can even make your own herbal blend). At the same time, learn about fungi and folklore from scientists and enjoy entertainment from an electric string quartet and circus performers in the tropical conservatory. Tickets, $21, and details are available now on the Botanic Gardens website.
You say you really like burritos? You'll have to turn that like into love, or even obsession, if you hope to have a shot at downing the five-pound, tortilla-wrapped monster at the Pioneer Bar, 2401 South University Boulevard. On Friday, March 1, the venerable University of Denver watering hole is launching its Burrito You Can't Complete-O challenge, with four contestants vying to be the first to get through the gut-busting ordeal. Come down and watch the fun so you can gauge whether you're up to besting the burrito yourself; after March 1, you can take the challenge any time during the Pioneer's regular business hours. If you can devour the delicious devil in 35 minutes, you won't have to pay, plus you'll earn a commemorative T-shirt and your photo on the wall of fame. If you fail, you'll only be out $35. Either way, there's a free Dos Equis thrown in (as long as you're at least 21). The inaugural eat-off is free for spectators; call the bar at 720-536-4802 for details.
Saturday, March 2
If the standard beer fest — wait in line, drink, cheer when a glass breaks, repeat — doesn't hold your interest the way it used to, you'll want to consider the Mile High Beer Festival for your social drinking needs this weekend. On Saturday, March 2, over 25 Colorado craft (and crafty) breweries, as well as axe throwing (what could go wrong?), retail vendors, live music and food trucks will take over the Number 38 events center at 3560 Chestnut Street. Expect brews from Declaration, Spice Trade, Ratio and Crooked Stave, alongside Filipino cuisine from the Adobo food truck, for starters. Tickets ($55 to $85) are on sale for two sessions (1 to 4 p.m. or 6 to 9 p.m.) on Eventbrite, where you can also find a complete list of breweries, food trucks, entertainers and vendors.
So you're still waiting on your Hogwarts letter? It has arrived, in the form of a Facebook invite for the Wizards and Witches Beer Festival on Saturday, March 2. The Church, 1160 Lincoln Street, is the closest thing the Golden Triangle has to a Scottish castle, and from 5:30 to 9 p.m., $35 will get magical beings and Muggles alike samples of twenty brews and live music in themed rooms like the Lair of Secret Cider Potions and Butterscotch Beer Tavern. So bundle up in your house gear (it will be as cold as a witch's tit) and grab your wands (though apparating while drunk is frowned upon) for a night of mischief managed.
Sunday, March 3
The beer gods are demanding this weekend, and sacrifices are required of you and your liver. This one comes with a breakfast burrito, though, as Denver Beer Co., 1695 Platte Street, is putting on its eighth annual Beer, Bacon and Coffee Fest. Tickets for the Sunday, March 3, session ($40) are still available on the brewery's website; devotees of Dionysus will be expected to arrive at the taproom temple at the ungodly hour of 8:30 a.m., where they'll fit as much beer, bacon and coffee as they can in their bellies before 11 a.m. You'll also get a breakfast burrito to hold you down, and Cerveceria Colorado is providing a michelada bar for those who feel booze before noon must be accompanied by tomato juice. Hopefully your sacrifice will be deemed worthy.
It's 303 day — and that means all you transplants with out-of-state area codes can kindly GTFO. Just kidding! We're a welcoming bunch (mostly); just stay off the roads for one damn day so natives can drive somewhere, anywhere, in less than 45 minutes. In any case, Sunday, March 3, is the time to celebrate the Centennial State, and what better way to do it than with homegrown breakfast burritos and beer? All Colorado Illegal Pete's locations are offering burritos and bowls for just $3.03 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and Bloody Marys, margaritas and New Belgium drafts for the same price all day long. The event's Facebook page has all the details. And for friendly transplants? Beers are cheap enough that you can afford to buy a round for the bar — after all, there's no better way to introduce yourself to your new neighbors.
Keep reading for future food and drink events.
Thursday, March 7
SAME Cafe has been serving up healthy and hearty meals — as well as making national headlines — for more than a decade, and the pay-what-you-can eatery is now getting wheels. On Thursday, March 7, the nonprofit restaurant's SAME Food Truck will make its debut alongside bites and booze from Snooze, Cirque Kitchen and Spirits, the Inventing Room, Renegade Brewing Company, Sweet Action Ice Cream and Biju's Little Curry Shop at the second annual So All May Eat Gala at the McNichols Building, 144 West Colfax Avenue. From 5:30 to 9:30 p.m., guests will nip and nibble from great restaurants around Denver; food-justice activist and founder of D.C. Central Kitchen and L.A. Kitchen Robert Egger will also give a presentation. Tickets are currently on sale for $75 on Eventbrite, though in keeping with SAME's mission, pay-what-you-can and volunteer-exchange tickets are also available; find out more on the cafe's website.
Saturday, March 16
The sixth annual Collaboration Fest is drawing near, and even if the festival wasn't on your radar six months ago, when tickets first went on sale, it should be now. Because two (or more) breweries team up to brew each beer, each of the brews on tap is a result of the experience, style and approach of separate teams, resulting in nearly 120 beers you'll never see or taste anywhere else. Tickets for the Saturday, March 16, event are (still) on sale on the Collaboration Fest website for $65 or $85; pouring commences at 3 and lasts until 6 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Denver, 650 15th Street. Our most anticipated collabs? Colorado breweries Paradox Beer Co. and Purpose Brewing; Belgian-style brewers Bruz Beers and the Thirsty Monk; and TRVE Brewing and Denver's Family Jones distillery.
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Monday, March 18, through Wednesday, March 20
Take a walk on the wild side at Rioja this spring at the Mediterranean restaurant's Wild and Wine dinners. From Monday, March 18, through Wednesday, March 20, the eatery at 1431 Larimer Street will offer an off-the-beaten-path five-course dinner highlighting unusual proteins like venison (not so strange), boar, snake, alligator and ostrich (completely bizarre — that neck!). Unfiltered, natural and wild-yeast-fermented wines will accompany the dishes. Tickets ($80 without wine, $110 with) are available on Rioja's website; choose from 5:30 or 7:45 p.m. seatings.
Sunday, May 19, and Monday, May 20
Chefs and aspiring charcutiers will want to plan ahead for a Denver visit from the maestro of meat, Brian Polcyn, who will lead a butchery course next spring at Stir Cooking School, 3215 Zuni Street. Polcyn and author Michael Ruhlman will spend two days teaching students how to break down hogs using both USDA and European seam butchery techniques; how to work charcuterie into menus; and how to properly dry-cure and smoke cured meats. Recipes for pâté, fresh sausage and offal will be provided, as well as a copy of one of the duo's books (their third title, Pâté, Confit, Rillette, will be released May 19), a private cocktail hour and dinner with the pair. Tickets are $800 and are on sale now at Eventbrite.
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