Chicken pot pies with flaky, buttery crusts. Pasta bolognese with citrus-scented breadcrumbs. Crisp spring vegetables with creamy burrata. Sprinkle in a bit of OG Kush in place of oregano or drizzle some THC-infused lemon olive oil on top and you’ve entered the world of haute cannabis cuisine. Toto, we’re not in pot brownie country anymore.
With California laws changing the way we buy, smoke and ingest marijuana, cannabis-laced foods are more elevated than ever.
West Hollywood has already granted more than a dozen licenses for businesses that allow on-site cannabis consumption. That means you’ll soon be able go to a restaurant where you can buy cannabis products then stick around to smoke, eat or drink them.
Some of the proposals are stunning, with designs that mimic top restaurants i.e. lots of natural light, cool tiles, plant walls, open-air patios and comfy booths. The first to open will be Lowell Farms: A Cannabis Cafe although the owners haven’t said exactly where or when. Led by chef Andrea Drummer, who has been curating high-end cannabis dinners via culinary events company Elevation VIP Cooperative, the seasonal menu will feature “virgin” dishes alongside options with THC and CBD.
What any chef will tell you is that cooking with weed isn’t just about getting blotto. They’re chefs, so it’s about the food first. Then it’s about connecting people, having a good time and generally spreading the good word on the cannabis lifestyle. The high, of course, is a nice bonus. While we wait for the first cannabis cafes to open, here’s where to find some of the best canna-cuisine around town right now.
Officially, California prohibits the use of CBD in food or drink products. So any Los Angeles County business selling these items to the public — cafes serving donuts, juices, brownies, cocktails, etc. — technically shouldn’t be. Businesses that do this are skirting legality (in fact, a few asked not to be included on this list although others were fine with it). The hammer comes down starting in July 2019. That’s when L.A. County starts a new year of inspections, and any business using CBD oils or serving CBD in food or drinks will be docked two points on their health inspection. At some point, the FDA may approve CBD as a food additive. If it does, California and L.A. County will follow suit.
Lobster Bolognese at La Hoja
One of the early adopters of cannabis dinners, Luke Reyes has been doing his La Hoja events (“la hoja” translates to “the leaf”) since 2015, catering everything from branded pool parties for a thousand Coachella revelers to small, intimate affairs in a Beverly Hills home. No matter the menu, there’s almost always a handmade pasta, and his Bolognese — extruded spaghetti with vegan, vegetarian, traditional meat sauce or pescatarian — is one of the stars. He uses flower as an herbal element and incorporates his own bottled Viero THC extra virgin olive oil into both the sauce and the breadcrumbs on top. Although Reyes recently opened a restaurant in Bali, and he’s working on the debut of 9th Street Ramen in downtown L.A., La Hoja still happens a few times a month. Reyes specializes in low-dose menus, something like 15mg for an entire meal. “It’s not about getting really high,” he says. “It’s about using cannabis as a social lubricant and hanging out and enjoying the food.” Subscribe to the newsletter for event announcements.
Published: April 18, 2019
Founder & Interim Editor of L.A. Cannabis News