Spring, shopping and spritzes: Could this weekend get any better? Start off with a patio party, then stock up on farmers' market goodies and unique brews before closing out your Sunday with a good dinner for a good cause. Here are six of the best food and drink events around town, plus more to plan for.
Friday, May 3
The tiny, under-the-radar Bistro Barbès has been tucked into a small block at 5021 East 28th Avenue for half a decade now, and it's celebrating five years of firing up French/Middle Eastern fusion with a throwback dinner on Friday, May 3. Five courses from past menus will be returning for the meal, which starts at 5 p.m. Included are three-bean salad, braised pork belly, seafood tajine, duck confit and black onyx chiffon. A seat at the table will cost you $50; call the restaurant at 720-398-8085 for more info.
Denver diners are a hardy lot; there's rarely a season you won't find at least a few groups on restaurant patios around town. And now that spring has sprung (even if the weather hasn't been cooperating lately), you'll be hard-pressed to find an empty seat on those patios. That's why you should get to Il Posto, 2601 Larimer Street, early on Friday, May 3; the Camparty starts at 5 p.m., and people are sick of being stuck inside dining rooms, so the patio will be swinging with a DJ, $9 Negronis (plus Campari and soda and Aperol spritzes for $6 and $8, respectively) and free apps with your drink purchase through 8 p.m. Can't make it this week? Not to worry: The party will continue on the first Friday of each month through September.
Saturday, May 4
Like phoenixes (phoenices?) rising from the ashes, farmers' markets are about to start popping up all over town. One of the first is Colorado Fresh Markets, which will be setting up its tents on Saturday, May 4, in the parking lot at the corner of First Avenue and University Boulevard near Cherry Creek Shopping Center. Come 8 a.m., the produce stands will be filled with...okay, not much, given that the market's own website informs us that basically the only things farm-fresh this early in the season are popcorn, potatoes and pinto beans. But there will still be plenty of vendors on hand, such as Björn's Colorado Honey and Damn Fine Cold Brew. The market will be open until 1 p.m. every Saturday through October 26; for dates and times of Colorado Fresh Markets' other locations (City Park, Stapleton and, new this year, RiNo), visit its website.
Not up for braving parking in Cherry Creek to get your kale? Or maybe you just don't usually roll out of bed until mid-afternoon (hey, we don't judge). Luckily, you can get great deals at both locations of Marczyk Fine Foods (770 East 17th Avenue and 5100 East Colfax Avenue) from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., thanks to the mini-chain's seventeenth-anniversary sale. Everything in the store — including wine! — is 15 percent off, and you'll be able to snack on free birthday cake while you shop. Plus, customers curious about butchery will be able to watch two demos (a whole-hog demo at 10 a.m. at the 17th Avenue store; a whole-tuna version at 1 p.m. at the Colfax location). Details are on the shop's website.
Ah, Cinco de Mayo: Like filing your taxes, it happens every year. And every year, its status as America's most problematic excuse for good food and drink is reaffirmed. Why, then, you might ask, are we pimping a Cinco de Mayo event in this space — much less one that begins Saturday, May 4? Because (very) occasionally, a place gets it right: no sombreros, fake mustaches or cheap tequila shots followed by vomitando. This year, it's Dos Luces, 1236 South Broadway, which is releasing bottles of Moctezuma III, an imperial pulque (a pre-Columbian brew made from corn and agave juice), at noon to mark the anniversary of the Battle of Puebla. Doner tacos from El Turkito Food Truck will be on hand, and if you stick around until 6 p.m., you'll also be treated to a DJ spinning Latin tunes. Visit the brewery's Facebook page for event details and a history lesson.
Sunday, May 5
The rate of homicide among Native American women is shocking, and there's a push for Congress to name May 5 a national day of awareness for missing and murdered indigenous women and girls (a similar resolution was passed in 2018, but has not been agreed to this year). But chef Andrea Murdoch isn't waiting around for Congress to get its act together: On Sunday, she's cooking a Warrior Goddess dinner at Comal Heritage Food Incubator, 3455 Ringsby Court, with proceeds going to benefit the nonprofit National Indigenous Women's Resource Center. Tickets ($65 on Eventbrite) include a four-course dinner with predominantly pre-colonial ingredients, such as "missing sister salad" (only two of the three sisters — squash, beans and corn — are present), striped bass with quinoa pilaf, and a creamy wild-rice pudding. Dinner runs from 6 to 8 p.m.; visit the Four Directions Cuisine Facebook page for more details.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your spot for $150, with optional beverage pairings for $75. More info is up on the restaurant's Facebook page.
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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
Save the date: Tacolandia will return 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. Although tickets aren't yet on sale, get this on your calendar before your summer weekends start filling up, and watch westwordtacolandia.com for updates.
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