This past June Bozeman welcomed a new restaurant to the downtown area — the Brazilian grill Five on Black. The restaurant is actually the second in a small chain that started in Missoula. The original was founded by University of Montana Alumni Tom Snyder who was inspired to open the grill after visiting Brazil using money he won in a University of Montana School of Business Administration contest. The original Five on Black opened in Missoula in April 2015 and has seen enormous success since, leading to their expansion into Bozeman and the planned opening of a third restaurant in Missoula. This success could partly stem from the grill’s combination of affordability and unique food.
Brazilian food is rare in Bozeman, so a visit to Five on Black is by default a unique culinary experience. The menu allows you to build bowls from a variety of different options. The process starts with a choice of white rice, brown rice or crisp greens. Then there is a choice of proteins — beef, chicken, tilapia, roasted veggies or feijoada, a traditional Brazilian stew consisting of pork and beans. Next is a selection of side dishes including coconut sweet potatoes, steamed collard greens or black beans. After that are the sauces — mango BBQ or spicy coconut. And finally a combination of up to three toppings which include chunky tomato vinaigrette, farofa (a toasted flour mixture made from the cassava root), lime wedge, spicy chimichurri or cilantro. For an extra 50 cents it is also possible to add a pao de queijo, a kind of Brazilian cheese bread.
The variety on the menu allows for a wide gamut of flavors and combinations that result in a unique, tasty dish. My first visit I had a white rice bowl with tilapia, coconut sweet potatoes, spicy coconut sauce, farofa, spicy chimichurri and cilantro. I am always skeptical when I approach a dish that appears to be so convoluted, but it surprised me by simultaneously maintaining all of its separate, robust flavors and creating an unprecedented taste all its own. A single bowl can be spicy, sweet, smoky and savory all at the same time. It speaks volumes about a restaurant when there are so many ingredients in a dish and they all retain their unique flavors. Five on Black accomplishes this and takes it a step further by making sure that all of the ingredients are in harmony and produce a great result no matter the combination.
And not only is the food good, it’s also offered at a very reasonable price, starting at $5.75 for a small bowl and ranging to $8.75 for a large. This is great food for a student budget. The service is also fast, and the bowls can be eaten on-the-go easily. Another important point is that the grill fits in the atmosphere of downtown Bozeman. It is a small business opened by a young entrepreneur and owes its success entirely to the creativity of its design and and the effectiveness of its products. Great food, great atmosphere and a great story. Five on Black should continue to be successful in the future.
Learn more about Five on Black at fiveonblack.com or by visiting and trying the food yourself Monday through Saturday 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. at 242 E. Main Street.