An unassuming corner unit in one of the many modern-but-downright-dull residential buildings that keep springing up near Broadway and Interstate 25 might seem a surprising location for one of the most colorful restaurants in Denver.
But that’s just what diners will find at Somebody People, which opened its doors late last month inside the old Denver Tea Room & Coffee Salon space, at 1165 South Broadway. Upon entering the doors, diners will immediately leave the bland concrete tedium of the busy boulevard outside behind and enter a space filled with brightly colored walls, large unusual-looking plants, and American realist paintings of beach and pool scenes.
Owner Sam Maher, who describes the atmosphere as “Palm Springs meets Miami in the 1980s,” says the restaurant’s tropical feel is no accident.
“Being from Sydney, Australia, where most things are pretty light and airy we just noticed a lot of Denver restaurants seemed to be kind of dark,” Maher says. “So we just wanted to liven things up and provide a place that’s fun.”
That setting also reflects the restaurant’s menu of vegan fare, which Maher says is also “super light” and “not taking itself too seriously.”
“It’s well-crafted, rustic Mediterranean food that you can consume every day,” Maher says. “We are not doing fake meats or anything like that. Just really polished veggies cooked like veggies.”
The menu consists of nine dishes (though Maher hopes to expand that number to 14) that Maher says are meant for sharing tapas-style.
The current options include such dishes as grilled romaine lettuce topped with a caesar tahini dressing and crumbled almonds, and grilled and smoked king oyster mushrooms topped with chimichurri sauce. There are also two pastas, a funghetto pasta topped a carrot-based bolognese sauce, and a rigatoni topped with almond trapanese sauce.
The bar program, meanwhile, is focused on unique cocktails that consist of fresh-squeezed juices mixed with fruits and spirits, including what Maher describes as a “riff on a tequila sunrise.” There is also coffee from local roaster Commonwealth Coffee Roasters.
“It’s supposed to be super approachable and healthy,” Maher says. “It’s not like where you go in and you have one cocktail and you feel drunk.”
Just don’t expect to get your coffee in a Somebody People-provided to-go cup. Instead, customers are encouraged to bring their own to-go containers for food and coffee, though reusable tiffins are being sold by Somebody People as an alternative.
So far, customers seem to appreciate that approach, Maher said.
“We try to communicate it as best as possible and people have understood,” Maher said. “But if someone ever doesn’t we will probably just give them a tiffin and say hopefully this big silver thing reminds them of us and they come back.”