Every time I write about a restaurant opening in downtown Denver, inevitably a comment or two (or ten) is posted about how "dangerous" the area is. But as someone who frequently dines out all over the city, I've never felt unsafe going anywhere downtown, whether it's to a new restaurant on the 16th Street Mall or a bar in RiNo — though I admittedly don't frequent LoDo after let-out. But then, no restaurants are open there at that hour anyway.
The "danger" many are talking about is directly related to the homeless population, which has become more visible since the pandemic. I've had plenty of interactions with people on the streets while out and about; I'm happy to hand an extra cigarette to anyone who asks, or spare some change or even a couple of bucks if I have the cash on hand. For the most part, I get a polite "Thank you" before I go on with my evening.
A box of leftovers led to the most aggressive interaction I've experienced. Everyday Pizza opened at 2161 Larimer Street last August; it's an all-vegan pizza concept from the owners of Somebody People, a bright and airy vegan eatery on South Broadway. Like its sister restaurant, it's filled with pops of color, from the pastel pink bar stools to the green glassware and floors.
As a lover of cheese, I was skeptical going into Everyday Pizza — but soon I was swept up in enjoying the surprisingly delicious root vegetable pizza I split with a friend. "I could bathe in this garlic aioli," my dining companion commented as I nodded and happily chewed. But then...bang!
The noise startled me, and I turned around to see a man walking by the windows holding some sort of large stick in his hand. "I'm so used to that now," the bartender commented nonchalantly — Everyday Pizza is just around the corner from the Denver Rescue Mission. No one seemed particularly concerned, so we wrapped up the leftovers and I crossed 22nd Street as I headed to my car, box in hand.
"Sure," I replied, totally thrown by the interaction. If he hadn't taken the initiative, I probably would've offered up the leftovers of my own accord, as I often do. "It's one slice of vegan pizza."
"Yeah, it is!" he yelled in surprise, turning back to the other man as I got into my car. I watched them in the rearview mirror for a second, and saw him waving the box around while he returned to his conversation. I pulled away, wondering if he was actually going to eat the slice or just throw it on the ground.
I'll never know if he enjoyed that vegan pizza as much as I had. But as I drove home, I recalled another experience with leftovers years earlier when I was on a different stretch of Larimer, leaving Work & Class after dinner with a group of friends. We had ordered way too much food, and I had a packed box of leftovers in hand as we headed to our next destination.
Not wanting to tote the box around all night, I offered it to the first person I saw who looked like they could use it. "Hey, would you like this? It's from that restaurant over there, and it's really good," I said.
"Sure, thank you," the man replied. As he took the box, he asked what was inside.
"It's mostly roasted goat," I told him.
"Fuck you!" he yelled, returning the box to me and walking away.
"It's really good, I swear," I said as I tried to defend the goat's honor. Another person quickly swooped in, happily offering to take the meat off my hands as I continued unburdened toward a bar, happy that no food was going to waste on my watch that night.
By the way, although it's no longer on the menu because the cost became prohibitive, the goat was a standout at Work & Class for years. And definitely not vegan.