Lifestyle | A Creative, Collaborative Twist on Dining in Denver: The Dinner Party Association

Food, fun, friends, music, local, libations, collaboration… These are things we are very fond of here at Ultra5280 and believe you, our readers, are fond of as well. Last weekend we discovered The Dinner Party Association, a new pop-up concept that brings all these wonderful things together once a month! Its founder, Megan Ranegar, and her “traveling supper club” are new to Denver as of this past December, but she didn’t waste any time acclimating her concept to the Mile High City. This first Sunday was the 3rd Dinner Party Association event, “The Taco Situation”, which took place three stories above the 16th Street Mall at a co-working space aptly named The Hive on 16th.

The basic concept is simple Megan explains, “We dinner party in unlikely places, eat delicious food, and toast with local brews.” Their goal is to create a community between Denver residents, foodies, chefs, musicians, photographers and the like. “I feel like I always meet the coolest people and have the best conversations in a dinner party atmosphere; I want to spread that magic through The Dinner Party Association.”

If grassroots involvement is any indication a concept is gaining momentum, then we think it’s pretty obvious Denver digs The Dinner Party Association’s arrival. We found out about the event via a post on Instagram and other brunch goers heard from a friend of a friend, or via social media as well. And now, you can say you heard about it here from us! While Dinner Party Association’s Instagram page has nearly 3,000 followers, it also has many other people and businesses that are outwardly supporting the pop-up on their social media outlets. Before moving to Denver, Megan organized similar pop-ups in Los Angeles but wasn't sure she’d continue them here, “I was mostly hesitant because I didn't have any connections to chefs, venues, etc. but I can't believe how collaborative the Denver community is! I've been so happily surprised at the reaction and support my concept has received here.”

Megan shares the one thing that really helped turn her California concept into a reality in Denver was meeting Brooks Gagstetter of Logan House Coffee. “Brooks basically said ‘you're doing this’ and proceeded to provide a beautiful warehouse space for our first event in January, and I’ve just continued building relationships from there.” The events now take place the first Sunday of each month in a unique new venue, with a completely different lineup of food, drinks and ambiance each time. “The theme of each event is something I dream up and then reach out to different spaces and chefs who I think would be a good fit. Then comes the fun part - designing the event. I have a background in marketing, so creating content to promote the event is fun for me too.”

Their first event was a “Coffee Beer Brunch” in the Logan House Coffee warehouse, in RiNo. Megan explains it's their goal to find cool, unique spaces for an alternative dining experience. The first Denver bunch to brunch with Dinner Party Association ate Thai fried eggs, rosemary chia pudding jars, pork rillettes with preserved pear atop Apache fry bread, and aged Rocky Mountain beers from Beryl’s Beer Co. For their second event they held a dinner and beer pairing and added live music to the mix with a musician from Denver and one from Chicago. Megan is very good about setting a scene and weaving a theme to make the dining experience truly unique, “I love thinking of little touches that will make the pop-up feel special,” she tells us.

The third event, which we attended, was titled “The Taco Situation” and began at 11am with cocktails, coffee and time to chat. Everyone was seated and plated with their first round of tacos around 11:30am. The brunch featured Horchata with Jameson on the side, coffee, a delicious hand crafted Apple cocktail from mixologist Lawrence Mack, and a series of Water, Land and Air inspired tacos.

The first round was Rainbow Trout Escabeche atop blue corn tortillas with pickled root veggies with a salty and astringent flavor palette. The next was a savory grilled Elk tenderloin with caramelized onion and subtly sweet pear jam atop potato tortillas. The third round was a sort of salty, smoky roasted Duck with beans, bacon crumbles and crispy shallots on butternut squash tortillas. Chef Kyle Morgan of Morgan Handmade Rations created each of these dishes which were very different in flavors and allowed you to experiment with pairing each up with the variety of drinks most of us had in front of us…They were all so good it was hard not to horde!

For the sweet finish, we each got a little jar of chocolate Serrano and tequila-infused dulce de leche with fresh, fluffy churros from El Camino Community Tavern! We lingered over this delicious dessert while wrapping up conversations and exchanging contact info with our new friends.

With all the new dinner halls, open markets, and community dining options we’ve come to frequent in and around Denver, it’s no wonder The Dinner Party Association found a home here. The next three months of upcoming events are already posted on their online calendar and they have full intentions to make this pop-up concept bigger and better. “We're hoping to partner with many Denver chefs and creatives as we continue to make our events magical--the more the merrier.” Megan thanked everyone in attendance and invited us all back to the next event for a discounted price, something she always does for repeat guests. The next event is April 3rd “Beer and Blues Dinner” with New Belgium and live music from Dragondeer. May 1st is a Spring Brunch and June 5th is an Artisan dinner at Cheese + Provisions. More information on The Dinner Party Association and tickets to April’s dinner can be found through the links below.

By Tiffany Candelaria