Black Safe, Dining

2 Black Men in Denver. Day 2 – Objectively Black

“Black Safe” – Denver, CO – DAY 2

       If you did day 1 correct, you are probably stupid hungry and in need of sustenance. You’re probably still in pain from the hour of straight laughing from that joke you and your people were laughing about, but you can’t quite remember what the subject of the joke was. Your throat is probably hella dry, and you can’t really find a pharmacy close by to grab a Gatorade because Denver is basically all micro-breweries. You’re definitely exhausted and still need to sleep. But trust us, Denver’s got much more to offer.

Snooze, an A.M. Eatery

Snooze came highly recommended and we were not disappointed. We arrived around 9:00 am and the line was already around the door. The wait wasn’t too crazy, but you can tell that this place always does crazy business because they have games like cornhole outside the restaurant and give anyone waiting for a table, free coffee. Their specialty seems to be a section on the menu called “the art of hollandaise”. We both got two different orders of poached eggs and there was an option to replace one of the sides with a pancake. We were all over that!

The drinks were pretty dope as well. I definitely recommend the bacon-infused bloody mary, with Bacon.

Black Safe Score 4/5

F. Dougie: Yo man, you’ve been quiet all morning. You aight?

Idris Gray: I think I’m still smacked. I’m never doing this shit again.

*A bum walks in*

Bum: Ay Youngblood, let me hold a few dollars.

Dougie: Damnnit! Can’t I enjoy this come down in peace?!

Bum: Hey man, I’ll take yo teeth!

Dougie: Look fam, I’m sorry. I can’t help right now.

*Waitress escorts the homeless fellow out*

We actually stayed at an Airbnb a few blocks from a rescue mission during our time in Denver. It’s not completely new to see a few blocks of a city sectioned off for the homeless, but it doesn’t get any easier to see things like this either. We definitely encourage you to take a look at the mission and do what you can to help.

Five Points

Looking for a change of cultural pace, we ventured to 5 Points, a historically African American neighborhood in Central Denver. According to the neighborhood’s history,  it became a predominantly black neighborhood in Denver because discriminatory housing laws in other neighborhoods forbade black people from settling in them. Think of it as your typical housing discrimination policies in Long Island but much more serious.

Today, Five Points is much more gentrified and no longer predominately black, but we do have to say that it was much more diverse than the parts of town we’d seen so far. The part of town hosting the annual Juneteenth celebration, African-American history museum, and beautiful murals of black historians was a must visit.

Black Safe Score 5/5

Ratio Beer Works

This micro-brewery came highly recommended by some craft beer OGs back home in NYC. Ratio definitely had some class and seemed to be a staple in the community. Like almost everyone else we’d met in Denver, the staff was genuine and friendly (a foreign concept, we know). They were highly knowledgeable of their product and I could say with 100% certainty that they could find something for you, even if you aren’t a frequent beer drinker.

There’s an outdoor patio so you can soak in that Vitamin D. Since Denver has over 300+ days of sun per year, you’re definitely going to want to head outside and grab a table. AND FOR CHRISTS SAKE, BRING SUNGLASSES YOU FOOLS!

Ratio is even dog-friendly. Definitely hit this spot if you’re a dog lover. I’m actually certain at one point there might have been more dogs than people.

Black Safe Score 4.5/5

Art

Taking in the neighborhood and the gorgeous murals bringing the buildings to life, we ran into a beautiful rainbow colored mural of Nina Simone and another homage to professor and activist Angela Davis.

The Denver street art was really inspiring. The neighborhood was no longer predominately black but still paid homage to its past heritage. What also comes to mind when taking in all of this art, is the fact that in many major cities it just wouldn’t be possible. The respect and love for the art are what keep these displays in perfect condition. Keeping anything in one piece back home in NYC seems to take an act of god.

Black Safe Score 5/5

Lazo Empanadas

This place is a must visit. It’s a small family owned Argentinian restaurant with a few tables, but what they lack for in size, they more than make up for in taste and soul.

With 14 different flavors of Empanadas, you’ll have plenty of options to choose from. They use dough from Argentina and the result is a flaky, crunchy but soft shell. They are great as a snack, but 3 empanadas seem to be the magic number for a hearty lunch.

Black Safe Score 5/5

Union Lodge No. 1 – Speakeasy

If you’re looking for a cocktail bar with delicious drinks, that also stays historically accurate to the mid-1900s, then you’re in luck. Why you’d be looking for this specifically this is interesting, but we’ll stay objective. And in case you were wondering they don’t keep it all the way 1920 if you know what I mean.

Anyway, the staff was very friendly, and the service was great. The menu is large so if you don’t know exactly what to order, just ask one of the bartenders for a recommendation. They’ll set you up nicely. Now, don’t be surprised if you see a few people in the back dressed like Al Capone, or if your bartender begins to violently crush ice with a mallet. It’s all apart of the ambiance here.

Black Safe Score 4/5

RINO Art District – The Source Market + Hotel

After hitting up this spot for the first time, late in day 2, I was disappointed we didn’t have more time to explore all the various retailers, restaurants, and art pieces at The Source Motel and Market Hall. The hotel itself was a cool-looking modern building with a panoramic rooftop for those views of the rocky mountains. While the market had over 25 food and retail vendors and 2 breweries.

We decided that we wanted more drinks to offset the weed gummies I vowed to never do again but did anyway. Once again, the service was fire. The bartenders were nice and the drinks were hitting.

We were able to check out some of the art at the source as well, and just like the rest of the city, the art was beautiful and with only a few exceptions, was a bargain. If I hadn’t spent all my money on weed, alcohol, and burgers, perhaps I could have purchased an elephant with AK-47s as tusks.

Black Safe Score 4.5/5

Closing

Denver is not the place to come if you are looking for diverse types of people or if you are looking to turn up or party. It’s pretty obvious that when the plane lands you are going to get a different type of American experience. We really recommend that you put it on your travel list in the near future. Sure, you may run into a few hiccups, but overall Denver is a great place to visit. The food is great and the people are cool. You can’t beat the breweries, and if you really want to chill you’ve got dispensaries every other block.

Coming from a big city like New York, it’s easy to forget that people live so much different in other parts of the country. People have different values. They have different ways of looking at things and different things that they consider important in life. We found it very inspiring that the local breweries each partnered with local artists to promote art and culture in the various neighborhoods. In a big city like New York, we don’t even say hello or acknowledge each other most of the time. Someone will accidentally bump into you in the street or on the subway and it’s like the whole world is unfair. In Denver, you won’t get away with walking by someone and not saying hello or at least giving a smile. No one is going to run into you in the street and not apologize. If you keep an open mind, Denver has a lot to offer. If you love great food, beer, and art, its at least worth visiting over a long weekend. Chances are, given an extended stay, you could even come to love it.

Black Safe Score 4.5/5

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Black Safe, Dining, Drinks

NYC Restaurant Review: The Randolph At Broome – Objectively Black

“Black Safe” – A discussion and review of restaurants and bars that we’ve visited. The point of these reviews is to give people of color a sense of how we felt or were treated when we patronize these establishments. We’ve all been there. Your service seemed extra slow. Maybe people are looking at you crazy. Either way, we know that our treatment in public spaces is much different than others. We aren’t going out looking for fights, and hopefully soon, Black Safe won’t even be necessary. But for now, we gotta report back to y’all on what we experience.

How was the food? How were the drinks? We’ll each give our take on what we experienced, then we’ll give a score out of 5.

F. Dougie: To start off, I gotta say that I’ve been to Randolph Beer before. Not this location, but the Randolph’s in Dumbo serves as a hangout spot for me and my crew on weekends. The Broome street location was easy to locate and had plenty of space both at the bar and in the dining room. With over 30 different beers on tap, this is a choice spot for happy hour. The 10oz to 16oz Happy Hour upgrade is catchy, but not stellar enough to be considered a happy hour favorite.

Again, the beer and drink selection is dope so it’s hard to complain, especially when the prices are around an average $8 per pint. The bar itself is dark AS FUCK so set your phone to low brightness unless you want temporary corneal damage. As for the ratio, we definitely held it down on Broome street. A few other brothas and sistas rolled in and I personally want to thank Randolph’s for not asking me and my partna to leave (as they could have) when we got extra, extra black and had a loud “discussion” about gentrification and opportunity zones (more to come on that later). I have a feeling we’ll definitely be back. The fried chicken sammich was bomb bar food and definitely hit the spot after a long ass stressful day. I also appreciate the bartender asking if I wanted hot sauce on the side. We really appreciate you for that, fam.

It’s the little things, right Y’all?

Black Safeness: 4.4/5

Idris Gray: Listen Y’all, we started this segment off the only way we know how. LOUD! As we do… we got into a heated conversation about politics on a random Wednesday night.  But that’s ok, the Randolph at Broome, was still happy to accommodate all our blackness. First off, the location is super easy to get to, both the green and orange are nearby. They have a wide assortment of beers and plenty of space to accommodate big groups.

While there isn’t anything special about the bar upon entry, it fit the bill as a comfortable location for drinks and or a meal after work. I am currently abstaining from drinks after a very eventful New Years, but the food was good and priced about right for Manhattan. I had a grilled chicken sandwich which hit the spot. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, how was the ambiance? Well, it was fucking dark. Like I almost lost Dougie, dark. So take some advice from uncle Idris, and make sure you take that first date outside under a streetlamp before you make that final decision. Furthermore, it seems like Dougie and I have been going to the wrong spots for years. Cause this was one of the few times we weren’t the only two brothas in the spot. That was a pleasant surprise for sure. The Randolph was good all around and I will for sure be hitting this spot if I’m ever in the area again.

Black Safeness: 4.4/5

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Black Safe, Dining, Drinks

NYC Restaurant Review: The Henry at Life Hotel – Objectively Black

“Black Safe” – A discussion and review of restaurants and bars that we’ve visited. The point of these reviews is to give people of color a sense of how we felt or were treated when we patronize these establishments. We’ve all been there. Your service seemed extra slow. Maybe people are looking at you crazy. Either way, we know that our treatment in public spaces is much different than others. We aren’t going out looking for fights, and hopefully soon, Black Safe won’t even be necessary. But for now, we gotta report back to y’all on what we experience.

How was the food? How were the drinks? We’ll each give our take on what we experienced, then we’ll give a score out of 5.

F. Dougie: Henry at Life Hotel is an African, Caribbean, and African-American inspired concept by head chef J.J. Johnson. He took over the restaurant in the fall of 2018 and it quickly jumped to the top of many New York restaurant critics must-eat lists.

From the moment we walked in, we could tell this was going to be a different dining experience. The staff was diverse and the music was expertly curated. I can’t remember the last time that I stopped in the middle of a dinner conversation to sing “Hypnotize” (Biggie) “I Get Around” (Pac), and “Electric Relaxation” (Tribe). My man Idris almost started freestyling to “Get By” (Talib) during a conversation about the government shutdown. This expertly chosen playlist helped inject some much-needed blackness into lower-midtown. After a long ass day of dealing with entitled-ass clients, sometimes “Gon’ blast, squeeze first ask questions last” is just the shit you need to hear to keep you motivated.

The food was on point, but you didn’t really expect a brotha to get African and Carribean food wrong, did you? The drinks were pricey, but much to be expected from a hotel restaurant. I had a Captain Lawrence ‘Golden Delicious’ and couldn’t have been happier with my decision. I know what y’all are thinking. “Why would he drink a Belgian ale with Afro-Carribean food?” Sure, I’m certain there are many different cocktails that would have paired better with my meal, and I’m sure the head chef and mixologist worked hard to create some great cocktails that complement their menu better….but I got a baby that needs to go to college one day and you know damn well how much a cocktail costs in New York City so Y’all can go to hell.

The Lamb Suya Kebabs with Za’atar Yogurt and Roti were an excellent starter and you already know I had to go with the Roasted Jerk Chicken for my entree. Yeah, I got chicken for dinner. I did this for Y’all! We gotta make sure if someone is putting Jerk Chicken on the menu, they representing. It was tender, succulent, and had a crispy, almost fried skin. If you like spicy (white people beware), this should give you juuuust enough of that Caribbean kick without overpowering. We’ll definitely be back.

Black Safeness: 4.6/5

Idris Gray: “Mazel tav, it’s a celebration bitches!” – Jay -Z (Roc Boys). This was the mood as soon as we entered Henry at Life Hotel, right on 31st between 5th and 6th avenue. It’s the one with the big neon pink sign in the window. You can’t miss it.

As you walk in the restaurant you are immediately greeted with great service. You’ll want to make a reservation before coming, but walk-ins are definitely welcome. There’s a good sized bar as well, which is ideal for those after work drinks. We made a reservation for 7:30 but they were able to seat us a bit earlier. Now let me warn you, as you walk to your table you may be stopped in your tracks by the sound of 50 Cent, Talib or HOV over the speakers. Do not adjust your TV set fam, this real life, you’re at home. At several times during the dining experience, you may find yourself breaking out in song just to remind everyone that you know all the words to Let’s Ride by Q-Tip.

We can’t say enough about the diversity of the restaurant. It’s not that hard to find good service at a hotel restaurant but it is hard to find a staff as diverse as the one here in midtown Manhattan. That diversity doesn’t quite resonate in the seats of the restaurants from our sample size, but this was one night. And this is why we are here! To let Y’all know about these gems!

For drinks, I did the Captain Lawrence ‘Golden Delicious’. Cocktails looked good but I’m never sure what type of glass a mixed drink will come in, so I just get beer. Weird, I know. Don’t @ me. Either way, the beer was good. Now for the food and the menu. Being of West African descent, I could definitely appreciate the menu choices. I think the chef does a great job of incorporating different parts of the diaspora. That being said you don’t have to be African to enjoy every part of the experience here. In fact, if you’d like to enjoy every part of the menu there’s an option for that. It’s called the “It Was All a Dream”. I imagine that the food coma you are put in post meal is the main reason why, but it incorporates the main dishes in the menu into one and feeds the whole squad.

After the Lamb Suya Kebabs with Za’atar Yogurt and Roti appetizer which was amazing. I chose to go with the Salmon Noodles with  African Nectar Broth, Bok Choy, Edamame, and Rice Noodles. I had no idea what “African Nectar Broth” was. But now I’m mad at moms for never making it. The broth was delicious and the Salmon perfectly cooked. I really can’t say much more than you need to try it, and try this restaurant. We’ll definitely be going back.

Black Safeness: 4.8/5


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