This week's best food and drink events read like imperatives as much as invitations: Eat Denver, eat for free, taste Olde Town Arvada. Even if you don't follow the directives, there are just too many tasty activities to pass up. Here are the six best this week, as well as others you'll want to put on your culinary calendar for the months ahead (including Westword's fourth annual Tacolandia, set for August 17in Civic Center Park; tickets are now on sale at westwordtacolandia.com).
Monday, May 6
National Teacher Day is Tuesday, May 7, but Modern Market Eatery is showing its appreciation of the profession by expanding one day to a whole week (May 6 through May 12) and broadening the definition of teachers to include nurses (after all, they teach you to how to take care of your body). Teachers and nurses can show their credentials at any Colorado location of the pizza, sandwich and salad chain (excluding DIA) for 20 percent off their meal. And if you need something to wash that meal down with, visit Spanky's Roadhouse, 1800 East Evans Avenue, from May 6 through May 10, where teachers from preschool to university level can get a free cocktail, wine or beer — no purchase needed.
Each June, the glass canopy over the Denver Performing Arts Complex (1400 Curtis Street) shelters some of the best independent and locally owned restaurants for the Big Eat, a celebration of the city's dining scene put on by Eat Denver. More than fifty eateries — from favorites like Ophelia's Electric Soapbox and the Post Brewing Co. to newcomers such as Liberati and Bistro Georgette — will be serving up cocktail and food pairings on Thursday, June 20. Tickets, $65, go on sale Monday, May 6, at the Eat Denver website, so be sure to get yours before they sell out.
Tuesday, May 7
If you haven't been to Olde Town Arvada lately, it's worth a visit: A recent trip down Olde Wadsworth Boulevard left us marveling at the number of folks frequenting the bars and restaurants along the strip, from craft breweries to destination eateries. And on Tuesday, May 7, you can get an overview of what the area has to offer at the Taste of Olde Town Arvada. From 5 to 8:30 p.m., more than a dozen establishments, including Denver Beer Co., Rheinlander Bakery, Kline's Beer Hall, 4 Barrel Bar & BBQ and Homegrown Tap & Dough will be serving bites to hungry ticket holders. Tickets are just $25 on the Taste of Olde Town Arvada Facebook page, and proceeds will benefit Community Table, a nonprofit food bank and resource center.
Wednesday, May 8
You'd be forgiven for thinking every boozy pairing must come with a carb-y baked good of some sort. Cognac and Costco muffins? Bourbon and baklava? While we love a good sweet as much as anyone, we'd love to see some savory pairings hit the scene, which is why we're happy to see the Infinite Monkey Theorem Urban Winery, 3200 Larimer Street, branch out — with a wine and oyster pairing on Wednesday, May 8. Briny bivalves and crisp white wine are a classic combo, but it's been so long since we've seen anything other than cookies and cupcakes paired with vino that we've almost forgotten what it tastes like. For $22, you'll get three oysters and three pours, plus a renewed appreciation for old-school ways. Get back to basics from 6 to 8 p.m.; tickets are on sale now on the winery's Facebook page.
Thursday, May 9
There are plenty of combinations that presage a bad night: an empty stomach and schnapps, Nine Inch Nails and dancing on the table, a bottle of tequila and a late-night Amazon shopping spree. But The Bindery, 1817 Central Street, has put careful thought into what heralds a good evening, and naturally has decided upon the luxe duo of grand cru and oysters to start off its Woman Winemaker Dinner on Thursday, May 9 — but that's just the beginning. For $125, guests will get five wines from across the globe — France, Germany, South Africa and Austria — with dishes sure to be perfectly plated and paired. Drinks start flowing and food starts coming out of the kitchen at 7 p.m.; reserve your seat by calling the restaurant at 303-993-2364.
Friday, May 10
Start your weekend off with a sugar rush at the Colorado Chocolate Festival, which kicks off Friday, May 10, at the Denver Mart, 451 East 58th Avenue, at 4 p.m. and runs through Saturday, May 11. Dozens of vendors will on on hand, hawking goodies filled, flavored and covered in chocolate. There will also be a chocolate martini bar, a blind chocolate tasting, a pudding-eating contest (no hands!) and an appearance from drag queen/pastry chef Chocolatina, Queen of the Desserts. Admission is a bargain at $5 (with $10 for twelve tasting tickets), or indulge with VIP tickets ($50) that include early entry, reserved seating for all stage shows and 24 tasting tickets; find details on the fest's website. Bonus: Parking at the venue is free. Sweet!
Keep reading for future food and drink events.
Tuesday, May 14
Chef/owner Jeff Osaka's 12@Madison, 1160 Madison Street, is putting its money where its mouth is on Tuesday, May 14, with the inaugural Seasonal Charitable Dinner. The twelve-course meal will make use of traditional spring ingredients (baby root veggies, shell beans, rabbit) while donating a full 100 percent of the proceeds to the Gathering Place, a day shelter providing meals, counseling and job, education and financial support to women, children and trans folks. Seating is extremely limited — just 28 seats — so email email@example.com to reserve your spot for $150, with optional beverage pairings for $75. More info is up on the restaurant's Facebook page.
Saturday, May 18
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.
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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 over 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, celebrating food, art, music and culture. Join us in honoring that great Mexican invention, the taco, in its many forms as presented by the city's top cantinas, taquerias and food trucks. Tickets, $25 for general admission or $55 for VIP, are now on sale at westwordtacolandia.com.
If you know of a date that should be on this calendar, send information to firstname.lastname@example.org.