The world’s first licensed and legal restaurant serving both food and cannabis is open. As a former restaurant critic and current cannabis journalist, I’m uniquely qualified to review it. Here’s my preview:
By Ed Murrieta
The world’s first restaurant selling and serving food and cannabis is open for business.
Good luck snagging a reservation.
Lowell Cafe opened in West Hollywood Sept. 24, serving farm-to-fork cuisine and premium California-grown cannabis in a full-service restaurant, retail and lounge environment featuring sommeliers on hand to advise diners on food and cannabis pairings and table-side rollers to ensure the joints you smoke are prepared as well the food you eat.
A quick caveat about Lowell Cafe’s food: Chef Andrea Drummer’s contemporary California menu contains no cannabis but is loaded flavors that complement and pair with herbal, fruit and earthy flavors in the flower.
Lowell Cafe also downplays edibles, offering them for sale while advising customers that edibles are best enjoyed by experienced consumers who can tolerate their delayed and potent effects.
Lowell Cafe emphasizes the enjoyment of cannabis with meals the way people enjoy wine and beer with meals and allows smoking and vaping throughout the restaurant and bar, which serves only non-alcoholic beverages.
Sommeliers work the dining areas helping, diners choose the best flowers and concentrates to enjoy with Drummer’s fried chicken sandwich, peaches and burrata or sweet potato beignets.
Not only can adults purchase and consume cannabis while also purchasing and consuming food and beverages, diners and smokers can make reservations through Resy, a leading online booking service that handles reservations for top restaurants in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and Washington, DC.
Lowell Cafe’s reservations were booked through October within four hours of initial availability on Sept. 1.
But you can get in. Bar seating and some dining tables are available for walk-in customers.
Lowell Cafe is open 10 a.m. – 2 a.m. daily. Last call for cannabis sales is 9:50 p.m.
Customers who want to smoke or vape after 9:50 p.m. have two options: make reservations and pre-order cannabis, or bring your own and pay a $20 “tokeage” fee.
Non-smokers, rejoice: While smoking and vaping are allowed thought Lowell Cafe, one patio is reserved for non-smokers.
Lowell Cafe is not the first restaurant open to the public to pair cuisine and cannabis. The Green House Kitchen operated in Amsterdam circa 2015-2016 but under Dutch law could not sell cannabis (BYO was OK) and only allowed vaping, not smoking.
Lowell Cafe opened under a pilot program by the City of West Hollywood. Like all new restaurants — and like cannabis businesses in particular — Lowell Cafe experienced pre-opening regulatory hassles.
One kink Lowell Cafe smoothed out actually allows it to serve both food and cannabis.
Customers will receive one check for food and beverages and one check for cannabis.
The only sign of this point-of-sales system work-around may actually be the most mind-blowing of all for cannabis consumers:
You pay for your cannabis after you consume it.
1201 North La Brea West Hollywood