It's Friday the Thirteenth, but as long as you stay in town (far, far away from Camp Crystal Lake), there's nothing unlucky about this weekend. In fact, it's packed with events for every budget, from free World Cup viewing parties to lush, luxe dinners. Here are the six best food and drink events from Friday, July 13, through Sunday, July 15.
Friday, July 13
Last year's first Slow Food Nations festival (an outgrowth of the Slow Food movement, which aims to preserve local food traditions and culture) landed in Denver with a bang, and it's gearing up to take over town again. Larimer Square will be transformed into the Taste Marketplace, with more than eighty food and beverage vendors, a family pavilion, demos, panel discussions and a bookstore; venues around town will host tastings, dinners and workshops on everything from sake to food waste to #MeToo. Most events are free, but tickets are still available for select events at the Slow Food Nations website. Hurry over to make sure you don't get left out — the only time you want to move quickly this weekend.
In its indefatigable quest to turn your shopping experience into an Instagram filter, Denver Flea is upping the ante when it returns to Denver Rock Drill, 1717 East 39th Avenue, on Saturday, July 14, and Sunday, July 15. In addition to the usual crafts, body and beauty products, jewelry and clothing for sale, food vendors Baba & Pop's, Teakoe Teas, Jojo's Sriracha, Five Points Fermentation, the Real Dill and the transcendent Hinman's Bakery will be selling their wares. New this summer? The Talking Heads and Tacos party on Friday, July 13, from 5 to 9 p.m., when shoppers can listen to Talking Heads cover band Little Creatures while sampling any — or all — of the four cocktails being served through the weekend and nibbling Mexican street food. Tickets to the bash ($35 on eventbrite.com) include re-entry to the Flea for the duration of its weekend run. Just don't burn down the house while biting into your barbacoa.
Saturday, July 14
After grueling and laborious research (we drank a lot of beer and petted a lot of dogs), we recently determined that Banded Oak Brewing Company, 470 Broadway, is one of the best places in town to hang out with your four-legged friend. The taproom is thoroughly embracing its role as a doggo destination with its Mutt Mayhem Dog Party on Saturday, July 14, from noon to 2 p.m. The fundraiser for no-kill animal shelter MaxFund
boasts free treats and a goody bag for Fido, plus food trucks, raffles and a buck-per-pint donation to the shelter for humans. And while your woof won't be able to enjoy the brewery's excellent beer, they can enjoy the dog days of summer with a peanut butter licking contest. Early-bird tickets are still available on eventbrite.com for $12; once they're gone, admission will be $15.
Sunday, July 15
The second-most-delicious American holiday is upon us. Sunday, July 15, is National Ice Cream Day, and what better way to celebrate it than with BOGO — or even free — frozen treats. Show up at CREAM Belmar, 7357 West Alaska Drive, anytime on Sunday or Monday, July 16, for buy one, get one ice cream cones. If it's too hot to leave your air-conditioned home (even for ice cream!) and you happen to live near one of Mici Handcrafted Italian's locations, place a delivery order using the code GELATO at miciitalian.com and you'll get a free pint of gelato while supplies last.
Westword loves underdogs, so our Croatia jerseys are on order for the World Cup final on Sunday, July 15. The Ramble Hotel, 1280 25th Street, is welcoming all fans for a viewing party, though — even those who root for cheese eating surrender monkeys. Doors to the hotel's Vauxhall ballroom open at 8 a.m., with a sixteen-foot screen projecting the action. The event is free, with drinks and French- and Croatian-inspired food available for purchase from Death and Co. Take a look at the Ramble's Facebook page for details and an exceedingly lawyerly description of the event.
Departure's chef Gregory Gourdet is capping off Slow Food Nations with a bang: On Sunday, July 15, chefs Caroline Glover (Annette), Alex Seidel (Mercantile & Provision, Fruition) and Ryan Poli (Nashville's Catbird Seat) are joining Gourdet at his Cherry Creek restaurant, 249 Columbine Street, for an epic dinner showcasing traditional preservation techniques. Produce from Denver's GrowHaus and DeLaney Community Farm, Boulder's Cure Organic Farm, and Seidel's own Fruition Farms in Larkspur will be transformed by smoking, fermenting and pickling into dishes such as grilled eggplant accompanied by preserved lemon and relish pickled in whey, and lamb pancetta with fermented koji rice porridge with Icelandic-style yogurt. Find the complete menu and tickets ($110 with $35 beverage pairing) at Eventbrite.
Keep reading for future food and drink events.
Saturday, July 21
With Denver's vaunted 300 days of sunshine per year, you'd think eating outdoors in our town would be a no-brainer — and it is, until it isn't. We've had meals outside that have been suddenly and unexpectedly submerged in inches of rainwater, and barbecues that have been bungled by sub-sixty-degree temps in June. But even given the risks you run eating without a roof over your head, Larimer Square's Dining al Fresco on Saturday, July 21, is one of the most appealing summer restaurant events around, as the street is blocked off, lights are strung up, and everyone gathers in a collegial atmosphere for dinner under the stars. This year's participating restaurants (Bistro Vendôme, Ted's Montana Grill, Corridor 44, The Capitol Grille, TAG, Osteria Marco, Cru, Rioja, Green Russell and Ocean Prime) are taking reservations directly, so call your first pick to see if they can get you in. Too late? No worries; the party continues on August 18 and September 15.
If you want an outdoor dining experience that rises above the rest on Saturday, July 21, consider MCA Denver's Dinner Society. From 7 to 10 p.m., connoisseurs of both fine art and fine food will receive a tour of the Museum's current exhibitions before settling in for a four-course rooftop dinner prepared by chef Linda Hampsten Fox of the Bindery, accompanied by cocktails from the Family Jones. While the menu isn't finalized, everything Fox touches seems to turn to edible gold; the buffalo-milk burrata scented with lemon and the heirloom-carrot ravioli topped with unctuous carrot-top butter on the Bindery's current menu left us speechless (partly from awe, partly from being unable to stop eating). Tickets, $125, are for sale on eventbrite.com now.
Saturday, August 11
How long has it been since you've been to Cherry Creek for dinner? Given the massive construction and minimal parking in the neighborhood, chances are it's been a while. But on Saturday, August 11, the Cherry Creek North Food and Wine festival is an ideal way to explore the area's many bars and restaurants on foot, getting a breadth of bites without having to make numerous trips to the belly of the beast. Over twenty establishments will line Fillmore Plaza, at First Avenue and Fillmore Street, between 6 and 9 p.m.; our favorites include Hedge Row, Quality Italian, Blue Island Oyster Bar, Del Frisco's Grille and the ever-popular Enstrom Candies. Get your early bird tickets, $65 or $85 (VIPs enter at 5 p.m.), at cherrycreeknorth.com; ticket prices increase on July 9.
Sunday, August 19
Westword's Tacolandia returns to Civic Center Park, Broadway and Colfax Avenue, with more than forty of Denver's favorite Mexican restaurants and taco joints serving their takes on street tacos (or as they're known to non-hipsters: tacos). Enjoy unlimited samples and lots of live entertainment. For complete information, go to westwordtacolandia.com. This isn't a competition, it's a celebration — so come hungry and get ready for a wide variety of great Mexican eats, from the smallest mom-and-pop shops to the city's most popular cantinas.
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Sunday, September 30
It's never too early to start planning for Feast, Westword's annual celebration of Denver's restaurant scene. This year's party returns to the McNichols Building, 144 West Colfax Avenue, on Sunday, September 30. There will be unlimited bites from over forty local eateries, live entertainment, unlimited drink samples and unlimited merriment from noon to 3 p.m., especially if you opt for VIP tickets, which get you in an hour early and include an open VIP bar. Tickets start at $30 and go on sale starting July 14 at westwordfeast.com.
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