Come May, Coloradans are desperate to leave periodic spring snow behind, so cue the seasonal fun (even if we still have weeks to go before summer really hits). This weekend's best food-and-drink events include barbecue competitions, pool parties, food-truck rallies and block-wide bake sales. Keep reading for details, as well as more dates on the culinary calendar.
Friday, May 17
The old-school dining room in the Palm Restaurant, 1672 Lawrence Street, will welcome winemaker Shawn Johnson from Tuck Beckstoffer Wines for a lavish five-course wine dinner on Friday, May 17. The whimsically named wines (Hogwash rosé, Melée grenache and Mad Hatter red blend) will accompany diver scallops sided with springy sides of roasted corn, pea purée and vanilla cream; an herb-crusted local lamb chop with Cabernet demi; and strip steak with garlic-infused bone marrow and Cipollini onion rings. Reserve your seat ($150 excluding tax and tip) by calling 303-825-7256 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
What to do once you've visited every brewery in Colorado? Tackle the 61 Colorado craft distilleries on the Colorado Spirits Trail, naturally. Visiting all of them will get you swag like free T-shirts and bottles of booze, and you can get a great head start on Friday, May 17, at the Colorado Spirits Trail Festival, when more than fifty of those distilleries will be gathered at the McNichols Building, 144 West Colfax Avenue. From 7 to 10 p.m., sample whiskey, rum, vodka and herbal and fruit liqueurs from across the state without ever having to set foot in a vehicle (your Lyft doesn't count). Tickets, $45 and $65, are still available on the Colorado Spirits Trail website.
Saturday, May 18
Think your barbecue can stand up to the pros? If you think you know your back fat from your Boston butt, sign up to compete in the Proud Souls Barbecue & Provisions' Backyard BBQ Rib Competition on Saturday, May 18. From noon to 8 p.m., the Gothic Theatre, 3263 South Broadway in Englewood, will host aspiring pit masters; barbecue demos from pros around town; a beer garden; food for sale from GQue and Sugarfire Smoke House; and a concert by Slim Cessna's Auto Club. While admission to the event is free, tickets for the concert will run you $20 on the Proud Souls Facebook page, and if you're interested in putting your ribs up against the competition, sign up on the shop's website or stop by the storefront at 2485 Federal Boulevard. Demos are scheduled every 30 to 45 minutes between 12:30 and 5:30 p.m., and include the following presenters and topics: Ryan Grob of Backdraft BBQ — trimming spare ribs; Mike Eberle of the Kansas City Barbecue Society — rules and regulations of the KCBS; Bill Espiricueta of Smok — smoked chicken wings; Adam McKenzie of This Jew Can Que — tri-tip; Jason Ganahl of GQue Championship BBQ — lobster tail; Jeff Gebott of Sugarfire Smoke House — rib-eye; Tony Roberts of Proud Souls — brisket; Ryan Grob — pork tenderloin; and James Stafford of River Bear Meats — bacon.
This is one truck stop you won't be anxious about patronizing, because all the burly, bearded men are just there for the same reason you are: the food. On Saturday, May 18, the Truck Stop food truck rally re-ups for the summer months by converging on the University of Denver from 1 to 8 p.m. With more than 25 food trucks serving everything from fancy grilled cheese sandwiches (Rocky Mountain Cheesery) to dumplings stuffed with buffalo chicken or mushroom and asparagus (Radical Sasquatch Dumpling Company) to sweet and savory crepes (Holy Crepe), there will be fare to satisfy any palate. Add booze, live bands and DJs and you've got a block party for the ages. Admission to the shindig is free; visit Truck Stop's website for a complete roster of participating vendors. If you're not in the ’hood, fear not; future stops include Five Points on June 1 and Stanley Marketplace on July 4. A ride-share drop-off and pickup zone will be set up at 2222 South High Street.
Despite all the plants that went into the ground last weekend, it's not yet reliably warm in Denver — but why let that stop you when there's a good pool party in town? In a state that's been known to get snow in mid-June, you've got to grab life by the beach balls and live it to the fullest without regard for how breezy or overcast the day may be. So grab your water wings and flip-flops and get to the Jacquard Hotel, 222 Milwaukee Street, for the opening of its rooftop pool on Saturday, May 18. From 3 to 6 p.m., you'll enjoy an open bar, food stations, a fashion show and stunning mountain views. Get your tickets, $75, on Eventbrite.
If you didn't enroll in author Michael Ruhlman and chef Brian Polcyn's Praise the Lard! two-day butchery class happening this week, fret not: You still have a chance to benefit from their passion for pork. On Saturday, May 18, Julep, 3258 Larimer Street, is the site of the duo's Praise the Lard! dinner. Chef Kyle Foster will join the two in the kitchen, turning out six swine-y courses that put their butchering, curing and smoking skills on display. Tickets are $122.90 on Eventbrite (including tax and tip) for the 7 p.m. homage to the hog.
Sunday, May 19
Think back to the SATs and answer this question: bake sale:vegans as a) flour:sugar b) backyard barbecue:vegetarians c) banana bread:bakers or d) etiquette:ideology. The answer is b), of course. While plant-based eaters can show up at the typical bake sale, they'll probably have a miserable time. Not so on Sunday, May 19, at Nooch Vegan Market's Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale. From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., the market, at 10 East Ellsworth Avenue, is commandeering the block for vegan food trucks (Vegan Van, Mu Denver, Veggie Yeti and WongWayVeg) and baked goods (Beet Box, Buttercream Bakeshop, Native Foods Caf and many more). The best thing about this bake sale? It benefits Danzig's Roost, a nonprofit organization dedicated to rehabilitating Glenn Danzig and unwanted chickens (or maybe just unwanted chickens named Danzig). Visit the Blackheart Creations website for more info on the bake sale.
Keep reading for future food and drink events.
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Thursday, June 27
Nobody loves tacos more than us — but can you eat $135 worth of them? If you can't, it's not for lack of opportunity at this year's Top Taco. The annual competition takes place on Thursday, June 27, at Stanley Marketplace, 2501 Dallas Street in Aurora, when more than fifty restaurants around town will go head-to-head to see who can serve the best iteration of the classic Mexican street food. There will be tacos for all tastes: street-style (Cilantro & Perejil, Adelitas, Las Delicias), crowd-pleasers (Uno Mas, Tacos Tequila Whiskey, Los Chingones) and WTF (Tupelo Honey, Syrup). Not only will tacos fill your tummy, but tequila and margs are also on tap. Still don't think you can stuff over a hundred bucks worth of food in your estómago? Not to worry: GA tickets start at $75 on the event website.
Saturday, August 17
Tacolandia returns to Civic Center Park, Broadway and Colfax Avenue, for a fourth year on Saturday, August 17, with a celebration of food, art, music and culture. Join us in honoring that great Mexican invention, the taco, in its many forms as presented by forty-plus of the city's top cantinas, taquerias and food trucks, including Adelitas Cocina y Cantina, Antojitos La Poblanita, Carniceria Aaliyah, El Gallo Blanco, Issai's Catering, Kachina Cantina, La Fiesta, Los Chingones, Lucha Cantina, Mariscos El Rey 2, Los Mesones, Neveria Jedany's, Taco Block, Torta Grill, Yareth's, El Coco Pirata and more. Tickets, $25 for general admission or $55 for VIP, are now on sale at westwordtacolandia.com.
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