Sparklers and smoke are the menu specials this week (sparkling wine and smoky barbecue, that is), but there's plenty of other fun to be had, including a tequila dinner and a pride of PrideFest kickoff parties. Here are seven of the best food and drink events over the next five days, plus six more in the weeks to come.
Monday, June 10
Summer's finally here! Or at least close enough that we can taste it — that taste being the flavor of bubbly wine on our tongues, since sparkling wines are popping up as porch pounders all over town. So now's the time to find out the difference between cava and prosecco, among other effervescent varieties. Taste six different sparkling varietals accompanied by apps at the Populist, 3163 Larimer Street, on Monday, June 10. Class starts at 6:30 p.m., and by 8:30 p.m. you'll be a fount of knowledge. But be judicious about showing off your newfound smarts: No one likes a porch pedant when they're just trying to enjoy some fizzy booze. Tickets are $55 and available on Proof Wine & Spirits' website.
Tuesday, June 11
Justin Cucci, the force behind Root Down, Linger and Ophelia's Electric Soapbox, dipped his toe into publishing earlier this year with the publication of a zine. Those who still think of a zine as a slim bundle of DIY, photocopied, black and white pages free for the taking will be taken aback to find that this one rings in at 154 pages of full-color professional photographs, sophisticated recipes and Cucci's ramblings about the banality of evil (white sugar is worse than cocaine, apparently) and a reimagining of Gil Scott-Heron's "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" for Netflix junkies. Cucci will be at the Tattered Cover Book Store, 2526 East Colfax Avenue, from 7 to 9 p.m., talking about the project and his food philosophy and signing copies of the book afterward. (If you don't already have one, copies will be available for purchase for $18.95.) RSVP for the free gathering on Eventbrite.
Wednesday, June 12
What does a rosé maker climb into when he's starting a road trip? A pink Cadillac, natch. Winemaker Charles Bieler embarked on a cross-country road trip in a 1966 bubblegum-colored Caddy in 1999 when he was trying to promote his family's dry rosés; twenty years later, pink wine is the drink of the moment, so Bieler is re-creating the trip. He'll roll into Improper City, 3201 Walnut Street, at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, June 12, generously offering up his rosy ride for photo ops and his wine for $5 a pour. Food trucks and a cornhole competition will also be there for all your summer fun needs. Find out more about the party on Improper City's Facebook page. NOTE: Bieler's pink Caddy unfortunately went to the great graveyard in the sky earlier this week, so it won't be available for selfies, although wine specials, food and games are still on tap from 5:30 to 7 p.m.
SafeHouse Denver has been providing bilingual counseling and shelter to Denver women and children experiencing domestic abuse for more than forty years, but on Wednesday, June 12, the organization is taking on a happier task — providing you with great food and drink at the annual Sampling for Hope fundraiser. From 6 to 9 p.m., the Westin Denver Downtown, 1672 Lawrence Street, is hosting the casual tasting, with bites from Work & Class, Esters, Sam's No. 3, What Would Cheesus Do? and more being served alongside a silent auction and cork draw, where anyone who donates $20 is guaranteed to go home with a bottle of wine. Snag your tickets ($65 or $75) on the SafeHouse website and prepare for a full belly and full heart.
Boulder tequila fans will want to set aside the evening of Wednesday, June 12, for some smoky sipping and supping at Zolo Grill, 2525 Arapahoe Avenue, when reps from high-end producer Chamucos Tequila will be pouring the brand's blanco, reposado, añejo and extra-añejo along with a four-course dinner that includes fry bread with pepitas, goat cheese and smoked beets, and local lamb al pastor roasted in chiles and pineapple. Tickets for the 6:30 p.m. dinner are a deal at $80 (tax and tip are included) and are currently on sale on the restaurant's website.
Thursday, June 13
Denver PrideFest officially starts Saturday, but since Friday is the new Saturday and Thursday is the new Friday, bars and breweries all over town are kicking off the festivities on Thursday, June 13. Here's a quartet of events to get the party started. Ignite Kitchen & Cocktails, 2124 Larimer Street, is hosting a round of Drag Queen Bingo at 9 p.m. and donating 10 percent of all sales through June 16 to the Center on Colfax; see details on the eatery's website. Cerebral Brewing, 1477 Monroe Street, will be donating a buck from each pint purchased between 4 and 9 p.m. to PFLAG Denver; information is up on the brewery's Facebook page. There...., 3254 Navajo Street, is throwing a party benefiting One Colorado with photogs, live music and a silent auction; its Facebook page has more info. Finally, Hamburger Mary's, 1336 East 17th Avenue, is hosting a raucous RuPersonations celebrity impersonation show from 7 to 9 p.m., so you can enjoy your burger with a side of Kim Chi; find the full cast on Mary's Facebook page.
Friday, June 14
It's a basic tenet of barbecue: Hurry up and wait. Whether you're babysitting the meat while it soaks up all those smoky flavors or sitting in a car on I-70 on your way to Frisco, you've got to pay your dues for good ’cue. But the wait is worth it at our favorite barbecue festival of the summer, where piles of pork, brisket, ribs, chicken and sausage await starting at 11 a.m. on Friday, June 14. Admission to the fest taking over Frisco's Main Street is free, though you'll need to purchase Hogbacks (the festival's currency) to pay for your plate. While you wait for the wood smoke to clear, you can enjoy chef demos, live music and pig races throughout the day. Can't make it on Friday? No worries: The competition heats up through Saturday, which also includes the Bacon Burner 6K (piglets aren't the only ones trying to outrun their impending mortality this weekend), a firefighter cook-off and show by Flobots. Visit the Town of Frisco's website for a complete schedule and all the info you'll need to go "Wee, wee, wee" all the way home.
Keep reading for future food and drink events.
Saturday, June 15
Despite the evolved price tag (tickets run a hefty $150 to $200), Heritage Fire Snowmass is the summer food fest that most appeals to our primal core. There aren't many aromas as evocative as wood smoke and roasting meat; it's the earliest — some would say purest — form of cooking, and makes our mouths water like nothing else. Come Saturday, June 15, over fifty chefs and butchers (including Lon Symensma, Hosea Rosenberg, Steve Redzikowski and Adam Vero) will channel their inner cavemen (although the list includes no cavewomen so far) and converge on Snowmass Base Village from 5 to 7:30 p.m., along with 2,500 pounds of whole heritage-breed animals, open fires and free-flowing wine, spirits and craft beer. Add the pristine mountain setting, and you've got an event that satisfies your soul and stomach on a fundamental level. Snag your tickets (and see what your favorite chef will be cooking) at Cochon555's website.
Denver chef Dana Rodriguez (Work & Class, Super Mega Bien) is taking a field trip to the museum — and you should join her. She's lighting up the kitchen at MCA Denver, 1485 Delgany Street, for its Dinner Society pop-up on Saturday, June 15. Guests will arrive at 6 p.m. to welcome drinks and a museum tour (which includes the brand-new exhibit Clark Richert in Hyperspace) before proceeding to the rooftop patio, where Rodriguez will serve four courses of her playful, Latin-influenced and always immaculately executed food. Beer pairings from Ratio Beerworks are included in the ticket price ($125); snatch up your seat at Eventbrite before dinner is sold out, and get ready for the tastiest night at the museum yet.
Thursday, June 20
Get ready for the Big Eat, the biggest celebration of local independent eateries in town. Over sixty restaurants, breweries and distilleries will gather in the outdoor galleria at the Denver Performing Arts Complex to put out unlimited food and drink pairings that reflect Denver's true food scene, with nary a campy Rocky Mountain oyster or national chain in sight. Instead, there will be mainstays that have been upping Denver's game for decades (Vesta, Duo, TAG) as well as newcomers bringing inspiration from across the globe (Liberati, Cirque Kitchen). While national chains are finally starting to look to our city as a viable market, we've had everything we need here all along — and the Big Eat proves it. Tickets are $65; get them and find out more at eatdenver.com.
Thursday, June 27
Nobody loves tacos more than we do — 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.
Friday, July 19, through Sunday, July 21
Slow Food Nations appeals to everyone (except, perhaps, unrepentant fast-food aficionados). The international food fest kicks off its third year in town on Friday, July 19, and will run nearly forty chef demos, lectures, workshops, parties and dinners — plus the enormous Taste Marketplace, with over 100 vendors hawking their wares and handing out samples — through Sunday, July 21. About half the events taking place around town (but mainly around Larimer Square at Larimer and 14th streets) are free, but the rest require tickets, which start at $20. Visit the Slow Food Nations website to see the whole weekend's schedule and make sure you nab tickets for your can't-miss events.
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, 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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