The rigs are always at a perfect 620 degrees at Barbary Coast. The San Francisco weather outside of the doors is one thing, but on the inside, there is a 100 percent chance of fog, and haze for that matter, thanks to the automatic warming setup at the dab bar.
This may be one of the first full-service cannabis clubs in Cali, at least of the fully legal kind, but it seems to have gotten it quite right already. At least from where I’m sitting, where, after selecting from an absolutely dizzying array of shatters and assorted other extracts, I melted down some of the wax I purchased in one of the three rigs waiting to facilitate a sticky situation in a relatively sterile fashion (there is no blow torch necessary, though depending on your pick and preference, one of the budtenders may top you off with extra heat).
The smoking lounge just steps away through a glass door is somewhat large but intimate, with red velvet patterned walls splashing up to an 18-foot-high hardwood ceiling. Some tables and chairs are cafe style, while booths with high backs on the far side offer minimal privacy. There’s not too much to overthink here; the place is basically an urban bar, but with weed instead of booze. Plus bowls and bongs and any other kind of tool you need. Just ask nicely.
Oh, and there are no photos allowed. They seem to take this rule pretty seriously. Still, you’re able to take mental notes, and probably will if you climb to the heights that we reach in there.
There’s a 60-something gentleman to our immediate right who is smoking out of a corn pipe that he brought on his own. Off to our other side, a woman in her 20s smokes a cone, taking in her Sunday afternoon. Across the room, four guys at a table drool over the open childproof bags filled with the treats they purchased, deliberating which to chew, dab, or inhale first.
The water bubbler is working overtime.
For our first 20 minutes or so, we hear two or maybe even three too many Red Hot Chili Peppers songs. I suppose that they are catering to tourists, which works out better for my tastes when a steady reel of throwback roots reggae classics comes on next. As a cherry on top before we step out, I actually overhear a budtender having a quoteworthy chat with a man and a woman he’s helping get wrecked at the dab bar.
Woman: Sorry if we’re rushing, man, but we’re trying to make it to the movies.
Budtender: On yeah, what are you going to see? Maybe I can recommend the right …
I can’t hear too much more of their discussion, but there are comparable interactions at our next and final destination, Urban Pharm, just a few minutes away. Impressive in it own ways, UP is steampunk-inspired with more of a casual coffee shop thing to the previous spot’s lounge vibe. Its budtender is incredibly knowledgeable, the selections sweet like (and including) candy.
If it weren’t thousands of miles away from the Dig office in Charlestown, I’d come back every day.
P.S. It doesn’t seem to make much sense to laundry-list a bunch of strains and product names that may or may not be available in New England, as there will be a lot of time for those reviews when we have rec shops of our own. The main point of our journey was to get a better sense of what the vibe and culture is like in a newly legal state. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that beyond the ordinary stuff like medicated cookies, in any of these places you can get lost floating on a chunk of resin in a sea of medicated lemonade and 7UP.
A Queens, NY native who came to New England in 2004 to earn his MA in journalism at Boston University, Chris Faraone is the editor and co-publisher of DigBoston and a co-founder of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. He has published several books including 99 Nights with the 99 Percent, and has written liner notes for hip-hop gods including Cypress Hill, Pete Rock, Nas, and various members of the Wu-Tang Clan.