The Six Best Events on the Culinary Calendar This Week

Danielle Lirette
Recover from your weekend debauchery with an oh-so-healthy dinner Monday night, then deal with your hangover on Tuesday before heading straight into summer indulgence with cocktails, crabs and community beer gardens. Here are five of our favorite food and drink events this week, plus a handful of parties worth planning for.

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Go raw at Vital Root on Monday night.
Danielle Lirette
Monday, June 3
Go Meatless Monday one better at Vital Root, 3915 Tennyson Street, where the kitchen will be chopping, puréeing and and pickling — but not cooking — all manner of veggies for its June 3 raw dinner. This month's edition (the dinner series happens the first Monday of each month) starts at 4:30 p.m. with a Thai theme, offering four courses for just $30. Think nori cucumber noodles with chiles, grapefruit salsa and sesame dressing; cabbage rolls with mushroom and walnut larb and pickled veggies; and coconut rice pudding flavored with tropical fruit. Find the full menu on Vital Root's Facebook page,

Tuesday, June 4
If you want to enjoy the company of a few hundred of your closest friends while settling in for a movie this summer — but don't want to make the trek to Morrison for Film on the Rocks — you're in luck. Avanti Food & Beverage, 3200 Pecos Street, is kicking off its summer movie series on Tuesday, June 4. Come 9 p.m., the patio will be the site of a free screening of The Hangover. Prizes will also be given out (hopefully not rings). Weekly screenings through August 27 include cinematic classics like Clueless, Zoolander  and Anchorman. Stay tuned to Avanti's Facebook page for upcoming films, and meanwhile, enjoy the venue's main draw: cheaper drinks you don't have to scale a mountain for.

Wednesday, June 5
While everyone is swilling rosé or ice-cold lager, you're the kind of person whipping up elaborate and tasty cocktails for the hot summer months. Why not get some recognition for your talents at a pair of cocktail competitions currently under way? Distillery 291 is running its fourth summer cocktail showdown; drinks must use the brand's product as the base spirit, and prizes total $400 (that buys a lot of whiskey); submit your beautiful baby on Distillery 291's website by Saturday, June 15.

The stakes are higher at Bombay Sapphire's international Most Imaginative Bartender contest, which includes cash stipends for drink development and a whopping $25,000 purse; submit your idea along with a ninety-second video at the contest website by Sunday, June 30. Now get shaking!

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There's no doubt about what you're eating when soft shell crabs are on the menu (this one is courtesy of Savory Vietnam.)
Mark Antonation
Thursday, June 6
Soft shell crabs are in season right now, and even though Colorado is landlocked, you can still get the leggy little critters at a few places around town. On Thursday, June 6, the best place to indulge is Boulder's Oak at Fourteenth, 1400 Pearl Street, where the kitchen will be serving a four-course crab menu at 6 p.m. Expect three different treatments of the star ingredient (Mexican, with cornmeal crusted crab, masa and salsa verde; Asian, with tempura crab, soba noodles and ramen broth; and comfort food, with panko-fried crab, creamed corn, peas and pancetta) and wine pairings for $110. Make your reservation by calling the restaurant at 303-444-3622. The best part of this seafood dinner? Unlike when you scarf shrimp, you don't have to worry about where to put the shells.

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Dreams of global foosball domination will be achieved and dashed at Skyline Beer Garden starting this week.
Kenneth Hamblin III
Friday, June 7
Employees who brave central Denver traffic to labor thanklessly at their downtown desks have at least one reason to smile starting on Friday, June 7: Tthey can sneak down to Skyline Beer Garden for a refreshing beverage that will help them swallow the bitter taste of wage slavery. Skyline Park (at Arapahoe and 16th streets) will be open Tuesday through Sunday every week through October 12 (weather permitting), with Colorado craft beer plus wine, cocktails and bites available from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. DJs and live bands will be performing on Friday and Saturday nights throughout the season, and yard games will be available when your inner child just can't cope with the spreadsheets anymore. Keep up to date on summer events via the Garden's Facebook page.

Keep reading for future food and drink events.
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Heritage Fire Snowmass is the more outdoorsy, less crowded little sibling of Cochon555.
Heritage Fire by Cochon555
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.

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Stuffed grape leaves at the Big Eat.
Danielle Lirette
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

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The tastiest regiment of soldiers you're likely to see.
Jake Cox
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.

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Slow Food Nations will bring food cultures from around the world to Denver.
Courtesy of Slow Food USA
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.

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Los Mocochetes performed at Tacolandia 2018.
Danielle Lirette
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

If you know of a date that should be on this calendar, send information to [email protected].
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Amy Antonation knows that street tacos are infinitely superior to tacos that come covered in squiggles of crema, and she will stab you with her knitting needles if you try to convince her otherwise.
Contact: Amy Antonation