Get a taste of the Biennial at local restaurants

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While checking out the Biennial of the Americas website today, I spotted a new feature: host restaurants in the "what's hot" corner.

Click the link, and you find 25 local restaurants -- ranging from 8 Rivers to Black Pearl to Vesta Dipping Grill -- that are either hyping the Biennial-appropriate dishes already on their menu (Cafe Brazil), or a concept tailored to this celebration of the Western Hemisphere (Dixons' American Road Trip, with Kansas City ribs and New England clam chowder). There are also some special package deals, including the three-course, $20 meal that Interstate is offering this month; Centro has a special three-course Biennial deal for $25.

The offerings look so appetizing that you have to wonder where they've been hiding for the first two weeks of the Biennial, since I didn' find them them anywhere on the site before today.

I did find a notice that the Hospitality committee of the Biennial sent to local restaurants months ago, announcing that it was "seeking area restaurants to participate as host restaurant partners" and holding an information meeting on April 15 for interested eateries "willing to commit to meaningful, month-long programming in support of the Biennial." Month-long menu offerings featuring heritage foods and spirits of the Americas, for example, or "other celebratory or innovative ways of exploring the foods and cultures of the Americas."

Over two dozen restaurants signed on to participate in the program. In exchange for their efforts, the Host restaurants were all to receive, among other things, "premier listing on Biennial website." Which finally appeared today.

Better late than never. According to Biennial spokeswoman Rachel Chaparro, although the "what's hot" corner has been rotating -- especially during the very hot roundtables -- the restaurant deals will remain prominent for a few days, and then continue to be available on the site. The Biennial is also handing out 40,000 bookmarks that list places around town where you can get a taste of the Western Hemisphere.

Eat up, denver.

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