Sometimes we start out doing one thing only to switch paths and find our real calling – the proverbial fork in the road. Tom Snyder was a finance student in college, thinking it was the path he wanted to go on in his career. But an internship in his senior year taught him that a desk job was not going to work for him. Around the same time, he was working at a fast-casual burrito place which got him thinking – what if he opened a restaurant where people could customize their meals and eat really healthy food. The popularity of Brazilian steakhouses across the nation gave Snyder and his then-fiance direction. Five on Black opened in Missoula, Montana, Snyder’s hometown. The couple tested many traditional Brazilian dishes, putting their own twist on them. Many worked but some didn’t. There was the time whatever it was they made smelled so Gawd-awful, the entire apartment building wondered what was going on!* They clearly got all of their recipes straightened out, picking the best of the best.
With locations in Montana and Colorado, the name Five on Black comes from there being 5 steps to ordering, usually on black beans. Step 1 is to choose a Base such as rice or crisp greens. Step 2 is the Proteins including chicken and tilapia as well as Feijoada (Fey-jwah-duh), their take on the National Stew of Brazil. Step 3 is the sides including sweet potatoes and black beans. Step 4 is Sauces such as Mango BBQ and Spicy Coconut. Step 5 is the Toppings such as a tomato vinaigrette, spicy chimichurri and cilantro.
I chose a base of brown rice, the Feijoada (how often do you get to have Brazilian stew?) and then I just didn’t know what to choose. Not knowing what’s in the stew, I wasn’t sure what would go well with it. Thankfully, I asked the friendly gal behind the counter what she recommended for the rest of the choices. She told me what she personally likes with the Feijoada. I always figure – the people who work at a restaurant have (hopefully) tried the majority of things and know what’s what. She added various sauces and a wedge of lime, plus a cheesy-bread roll. My trust in her was well-placed!
My meal was delicious. Spicy but not overly so which can just block out all the other flavors. After tasting each element separately to fully appreciate it, I stirred it all together for a well-balanced, exotic meal that was very filling without being heavy.
Everything at Five on Black is gluten-free. So if that’s a concern of yours, you can eat at Five on Black freely and happily. And if you love and adore gluten and can’t get enough of it, you’ll be fine too – nothing tastes like it’s lacking! The line moves pretty quickly, especially when it’s full of people who know what they want to order. But if you don’t, don’t worry – the friendly staff will patiently walk you through the steps until you have something delicious.
There’s a Five on Black in Boulder. and the Denver Location is on California, just off the 16th Street Mall at 1617 California.
* How do I know all of this stuff about Mr. Snyder? He told us at a blogger meeting I was fortunate enough to attend with the Denver Blogger’s Club which can be found on Meetup.com.