It's all birthday parties and beer this week. And whether you're celebrating your first birthday, your 45th, or anything in between, you'll surely find one of these events a fine way to celebrate. Here are ten culinary events — three of which are free! — to enjoy from August 28 through September 1.
Monday, August 28
This is one event you'll want to act on immediately: On Monday, August 28, The Black Americas Project is presenting its final Black Americas Pop-Up Dinner. (We tried to write about the first two for you, but they sold out in two shakes of a lamb's tail.) From 6 to 8 p.m., join James Beard Award-winning author Adrian Miller and Mayor Michael Hancock at Cafe Brazil, 4408 Lowell Boulevard, for an exploration of African influences in Brazil. While you're getting an education, you'll also get a bellyful of delicious Brazilian cuisine: sweet potato and shrimp croquettes in a cayenne Bechamel, and blackened cod with dende oil and fresh coconut meat are just two dishes on the menu. Get your tickets (soon!) at biennialoftheamericas.org, where you can find individual tickets for $85 or a pair for $160. All proceeds will go back to the project, which looks at the influence of the African diaspora in the Americas.
Bistro Vendôme's Monday Night Movies continue through the fall with a Monday, August 28, showing of perhaps the most famous French-adjacent film of all time, Casablanca. Belly up to the bar in the Denver institution, 1420 Larimer Street, and start drinking as if you're in Rick's Cafe Americain, about to head off to the front lines and leave the woman you love behind forever. Showings are at 5:30 and 8:15 p.m., and the ticket price of $55 includes a three-course prix-fixe meal, Sam's tip not included. Call 303-825-3232 for your table, and check out bistrovendome.com for more details.
Mister Tuna, 3033 Brighton Boulevard, is turning the big 0-1, and it's celebrating in style by throwing a Yacht Rock party. What style is supposed to be evoked by "yacht rock" is still undetermined — the event Facebook page tells us "flowing locks meets nautical naughtiness," so naturally we thought of the Panama Canal and toddlers throwing temper tantrums on a boat — but the party, from 9 p.m. to midnight, will feature food and drink specials, the ubiquitous patio games, and a costume contest (you're on your own there). No reservations are required; just show up — because the more the merrier on a boat, right?
Tuesday, August 29
Summer's coming to an end, but it isn't too late to get a picnic in before Labor Day. PLAN Jeffco (a nonprofit that works to conserve open space in Jefferson County) is celebrating 45 years of protecting nature by throwing its Summer Picnic in the Park on Tuesday, August 29. Head up to Lookout Mountain Nature Center, 910 Colorow Road in Golden, from 4 to 8 p.m. with your lawn chairs and picnic baskets for a relaxing repast in the great outdoors. Don't want to meal prep that day? No worries; food trucks will be on hand if you aren't in the cooking mood. After dinner, join one of the guided hikes around the area to learn about bird watching, history or biodiversity. The event is free, but registration at eventbrite.com is strongly encouraged.
If you think Italian food only pairs well with red wine, you are tanto sbagliato. And Gaetano's Restaurant, 3760 Tejon Street, will prove it to you with its Left Hand Brewing beer dinner on Tuesday, August 29. Starting at 6:30 p.m., styles from the wildly different culinary cultures of England and Belgium will be paired with a special, oh-so-Italian menu; think milk stout with gnocchi and wild mushrooms and a Belgian single ale with polenta, ricotta salata and braised pork. Dinner is just $50 (including tax and tip), and you can make the mandatory reservation by calling the restaurant at 303-455-9852.
Wednesday, August 30
If you love slurping long strings of food (and who doesn't?), consider a visit to any local Noodles & Company on Wednesday, August 30, when the fast-casual joint is partnering with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to raise money. On that day, 25 percent of sales will be donated to the organization that funds blood-cancer research and supports patients and families. Just make sure you tell the cashier that you're there for the fundraiser, or all your pennies will go toward is a bowl of noodles. To find a location and hours, check out noodles.com.
So you love wine, but your bae won't let any of the fermented fruit near their mouth? They love beer, but the thought of choking down fizzy, grain-flavored water makes you want to heave? Or perhaps you're an indiscriminate drinker who loves both beverages? Have we got the event for you: Growlers & Grapes, a wine and beer festival taking place on Wednesday, August 30. From 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. (it is a school night, after all), the Tuscan-themed Baldoria on the Water, 146 Van Gordon Street in Lakewood, will host this fundraiser for HomeAid Colorado, an organization working with builders to build high-quality homes for the homeless. Guests will get unlimited beer and wine samples, as well as appetizers, music and the chance to bid on impressive auction items (including a Super Bowl 50 MVP jersey signed by Von Miller). Check out the Facebook page for details and tickets ($100). And whether you hoist stemware or a stein — cheers!
Thursday, August 31
The most artisan collaboration in the history of collaborations (doubleplusartisan?) is being celebrated on Thursday, August 31, at the Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project, 3550 Brighton Boulevard. Popular pickler the Real Dill has partnered with the brewery to produce a product using Crooked Stave's Colorado Wild Sage Brett Saison; beer ingredients — but not the beer itself — was used to make the pickle brine, which was then aged on oak and dry-hopped. The launch party kicks off at 5 p.m., and jars will be available for purchase at the taproom. If you're not the type to brave crowds of beer drinkers for a jar of tangy cucumbers, you can purchase the goods at therealdill.com — but hurry: Previous Briners & Brewers batches have sold out. Details on the pickle party are at the purveyor's Facebook page.
The 5th Annual Chef and Brew Festival returns to Exdo Event Center, 1399 35th Street, for a night of indulgence on Thursday, August 31. Participating restaurants will team up with local breweries to pair small plates with craft beers — and each team will provide at least two different plates and two different beers, giving guests a whopping forty pairs to sample (so far). Teams to watch? Wit's End Brewing Co. and Hearth & Dram, Ratio Beerworks and Fish N Beer, and Crooked Stave and Citizen Rail. The event runs from 7 to 10 p.m. and will set you back $49, though a VIP ticket will get you in an hour early (and at $69 is probably worth it to beat the crowd). Get your tickets and a full list of competitors at chefandbrew.com.
Friday, September 1
It's Labor Day weekend, and everyone who's lived in Denver for more than a year (so about 20 percent of the current population) knows what that means: A Taste of Colorado is setting up shop in Civic Center Park from Friday, September 1, through Monday, September 4. There will be beer. There will be wine. There will be frozen cheesecake on a stick. But among the fair food and chain restaurants, you'll find a few local treasures if you search diligently: Tacos y Salsas, Large Marge's Philly Cheesesteaks and the Ethiopian Food Truck will all be in attendance. And the real reason you'll go to the festival? There will be people — some of the simultaneously best and worst people-watching of the year. It's the best free entertainment in town (though you will have to buy those damn food tickets to nibble — $10 for 15 tickets). For info, go to atasteofcolorado.com.
Saturday, September 2
Salida is better known for FIBArk than fermentation, though that's changing with Wood's High Mountain Distillery and the annual Brewer's Rendezvous, now in its 21st year. And on Saturday, September 2, the town rounds out its alcohol portfolio with the 6th Annual Salida Winefest. Eighteen Colorado wineries will set up shop in beautiful Riverside Park from 1 to 6 p.m., where attendees can spread out on the banks of the Arkansas River while sipping their way through unlimited wine samples. If you're a locavore oenophile with early-onset grumpiness (is there any other kind?), we suggest hitting this festival sooner rather than later, so you can spend the next six years complaining about how much better the fest was when nobody knew about it. Tickets are a steal at $20; get them at salidawinefest.com.
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Tuesday, September 5, through Sunday, September 10
The Denver Food + Wine Festival is less than a month away, and if you're considering hitting any of the events this year, it's time to get moving. Tickets are on sale now, and depending on what whets your appetite, they'll set you back a very reasonable $40 to a steep $195 — and there's even a VIP Grand Tasting ticket available for $250 if you want to go all-in. Our pick? The Culinary Cinema Series will screen the documentary Barbecue on Tuesday, September 5, at 7 p.m. at the Sie FilmCenter, 2510 East Colfax Avenue. The movie is sure to make your mouth water, which won't be a problem, as the $40 ticket includes bites from Hearth & Dram, Rolling Smoke Bar-B-Que and the Nickel; drinks will be available for purchase at the theater's bar. Snag tickets and find the rest of the festival's schedule at denverfoodandwine.com.
Thursday, September 14 through Sunday, September 17
Fall is grape-harvesting season in the Centennial State, and it seems every mountain town is celebrating the season with a wine festival in August and September. From Thursday, September 14, through Sunday, September 17, it's Breckenridge's turn to lure the bikers, hikers and drinkers up the hill with gorgeous fall weather and great wines at the Breckenridge Wine Classic. There are luncheons, seminars, tours, hikes, tastings and bike rides to be had — all of them geared toward highlighting the beverage of honor. The best part about Breckenridge's celebration? Its proximity to Denver: You'll barely have to spend ninety minutes commuting to feel like you're in a different world (though the drive back to Denver might be a different story). A full schedule is up, and tickets ($55 to $145) are on sale now at breckenridgewineclassic.com.
Tuesday, October 3, and Wednesday, October 4
The Den brothers are throwing a party, and you'll want to add it to your social calendar. On Tuesday, October 3, and Wednesday, October 4, the roof of the parking garage at the corner of South Pearl Street and East Florida Avenue will turn into a veritable Japanese street fair from 5 to 9 p.m. Not only will Toshi and Yasu Kizaki be providing food from Sushi Den, Izakaya Den and Ototo, but they've called on twenty of their Japanese chef friends to hop the pond and lend their talents to the rooftop party. Expect ramen, yakisoba noodles, the hard-to-find-in-Denver okonomiyaki, yakiniku (Japanese barbecue) and lots, lots more. Tickets are $75 and include three drinks (additional beverages will be available for purchase). As with every party the Kizakis host, this one is likely to sell out, so check out sushiden.net asap for details and tickets.