By Anuoluwapo Bamiro, Contributing Writer
Welcome back to What’s Up with Anuolu. I want to shed a light on black-owned coffee shops and creative lounges in the city of Inglewood. The two that I have found so far are Hilltop and Sip & Sonder.
As a kid, Downtown Inglewood was the place to grab some jewelry, clothing, and other accessories, if we didn’t want to go all the way to the Slauson Swap-meet nor the mall. They also had a beauty supply so that we could grab things from them while shopping and get something good to eat. It was always a hidden hood gem to me where I could do a plethora of things while still being down the street from my home.
Hilltop’s vibe is communal, they have a whole coffee bar, food, and pastries. The vibe is a little loud, everyone is either working on something, having dope conversations and or working in groups. The vibe of the place and how brightly lit it elevates my personal energy and allows me to feel comfortable, confident, and ready to conquer my to-do list. My favorite thing to get at Hilltop is a hot matcha latte with a couple of sticks of honey inside as well as their breakfast sandwich with turkey sausage instead of bacon. Hilltop is open from 8:00 am-3:00 pm.
I discovered Hilltop through an acquaintance when they wanted us to have a meeting about working together. As soon as I walked in, I realized that the location of Hilltop when I was a teenager was a Louisiana’s Chicken/ Chinese food spot. When we would be getting off the bus and wanting to grab something affordable to eat, they weren’t the nicest, or most accommodating to our demographic. So, becoming an adult and seeing Hilltop, excited me so much. The place that once was so dark and unwelcoming became a staple to me, the neighborhood, and the creative community.
Sip & Sonder has a mellower vibe. It is for studying and working, while also grabbing a cafe drink from their coffee bar and enjoying one of their delicious pastries. Their vibe is quieter and a little on the dimmer side. It allows for focus and individual work to be done. The peace in this place is unmatched and they are open from 7:30 am-5:00 pm.
Sip & Sonder is located on the iconic Market Street behind the Inglewood Swap-meet, which as an Inglewood baby is just as iconic to me. I remember being a child and seeing this place filled with all types of black-owned businesses, hair schools, uniform stores, and boutiques. So, to be able to experience the new waves of black-owned businesses in these spaces, even with all the changes and the demographic of residents being different, and usually not from California makes a native like me so happy to witness.
My favorite thing to get at Sip & Sonder is a Rose Matcha latte with a splash of vanilla and honey. It is so warm and soothing and makes me feel like I am drinking self-love in a cup. My favorite pastry to grab here is a cinnamon roll and a croissant out of their pastry case. But you must come early in the morning to get a pastry as by mid-day they are sold out or down to a couple of them left.
Being able to experience black-owned creative lounges in the city that I grew up in. It does something amazing for the kid in me. I am so happy that this generation of adults and teens gets to experience such a space to plan, execute, work, and build on their dreams. I’ve seen everybody from writers to artists, to people in tech, to people with non-profits. We all come to these spaces and build on our dreams, plan what we want our business to be, and just thrive as creatives. I am so happy that these spaces exist especially in my backyard. May we continue to see more of these spaces not only in Inglewood but across the world.