What: Tí: Cafê Ta
Where: 30 Broadway
When: Monday through Thursday, 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday, 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
For more info: Visit ti.cafe
What we saw: Between dimly lit bars packed with people imbibing on a Friday night on Broadway is a sober oasis, its light spilling onto the sidewalk from the brightly lit interior. This is Tí: Cafê Ta, a Vietnamese coffee shop and late-night destination for patrons who want a taste of nightlife in Vietnam that opened on June 19. The interior is impeccably decorated with hip, simple design and a plethora of plants, as if you've just stepped into a modern home decor magazine. The owners of Tí Cafe are three sisters, Shominic, Shasitie and Sashaline Nguyen. With a background in fashion, they're dressed in chic clothes and regularly serve looks on the shop's Instagram.
The cafe's menu is short but sweet, and features enticing drink concoctions like Flan Cafe Sua Dua ($6.50), a Vietnamese iced coffee topped with flan, and sodas such as the Lychee Drink ($7), an Italian soda-style beverage topped with actual lychee and melt-in-your-mouth whipped lychee-flavored topping. For those who don't have much of a sweet tooth or are looking for an authentic Vietnamese coffee, the Nguyens have something for you, too. Vietnam is the world's second-largest coffee producer, so the owners source their beans from Vietnam to ensure authentic and high-quality taste. Vietnamese customers have told the sisters that Tí's Vietnamese coffee is a flashback to home.
It's important not to skimp on snacks while at Tí. A display of some highly photogenic treats greet customers at the counter. Options include matcha black sesame cheesecake ($7.25), mooncake-inspired macarons ($3.75) flavored with durian and red bean, and even savory eats like Vietnamese pork pies ($4). For a dessert that won't give you a sugar high, try the taro mooncake ($5).
What surprised us: Denver suffers no shortage of swanky coffee shops, but this one is a family affair, and you can feel that when visiting. The cafe is the first business venture for the Nguyen sisters, the realization of a longtime ambition the siblings have always had. Their mother is also an investor, and the business gives them the chance to showcase the Vietnamese-American identity and flavors they are so proud of.
Vietnamese culture values family highly, including family not related by blood. The big smiles with which the sisters greet each customer is evidence of that, and don't be surprised if they strike up a conversation if the little coffee shop isn't slammed, chatting with you about your day and cracking jokes. Their goal is to make people feel comfortable and at ease. "When it's quiet in here, we're tense," Shominic jokes.