Hi Flora! restaurant offers innovative vegan menu with a cannabis twist
Incorporating medicinal plants and herbs into food goes back thousands of years. Nowadays, wellness-conscious consumers are seeking new and innovative ways to promote healthy lifestyles. From adaptogens in seltzers to a focus on clean eating, there are more options than ever for people to boost the vigor of their diets.
Long-time chef Heather Klein wanted to take this notion one step further. Understanding the myriad ways flora and fauna can benefit the world, she recently opened Hi Flora!, a first-of-its-kind plant-based restaurant in Minneapolis with a THC twist.
Klein adopted a vegan lifestyle in 2015. She had long dreamed of opening her own establishment, spending years in the catering world with her company Root To Rise Kitchen.
But when Minnesota legalized hemp-derived THC edibles and beverages in 2022, Klein realized adding cannabis to the concept fit right in with the overall brand.
“I knew I wanted a restaurant with a euphoric bar—there are all sorts of fun euphoric plants out there,” Klein said in a phone call with GreenState. “I wanted to have a restaurant that really showcased all plants in their full form. Because of the new legalization, it just made sense. (Cannabis) is a plant, and it was euphoric, so we added it to the menu.”
To Klein’s point, Hi Flora! isn’t exclusively a cannabis restaurant—it’s plant-centric. There are many other blissful herbs and plants featured, including blue lotus, kava, and ashwagandha.
THC and CBD are available in tinctures, which patrons can purchase and add to their dishes or drinks. While cannabis-infused drinks have been all the rage at bars across Minnesota for the last year, putting cannabis on a dining menu is new territory.
One thing you won’t find on the menu is alcohol: instead, a wide range of mocktails, tonics, and infused seltzers are available.
“People that are trying to abstain from alcohol and still want to have a fun experience—they can still do that and have a great drink and a euphoric experience,” Klein explained. “They don’t have to worry about having the alcohol there.”
Vegan fare star of the show
GreenState had the chance to visit Hi Flora!, tasting a number of unique offerings. The environment was light and airy, with the cannabis truly being the icing on the cake.
Everything on the menu sounded delicious, making it difficult to decide what to pick. Ordering family style, the table settled on fried mac and cheese veg rolls, cashew hemp cheese dip, a fried maitake sandwich, smashed potato skins, and cheese-stuffed shells. Dessert consisted of a creamy cacao avocado mousse clay pot reminiscent of the center of a chocolate lava cake.
Drinks included a tart kombucha prepared with juniper smoke, a Ghia bubble beverage complete with a bee bomb flower from the restaurant’s vast garden, and a creamy take on a Moscow mule that incorporated Pineapple Express terpenes.
While some of the drinks garnered an aggressive price tag, the use of organic, house-made, and locally-sourced ingredients justified the fee. The food, on the other hand, was all reasonably priced and outrageously tasty.
THC unique aspect of dining experience, but there’s a catch
The cannabinoid menu featured five unique tinctures made by Flora & Green, as well as four brands of infused seltzers, all of varying dosages. For example, patrons can opt for a prepared CANN drink with 2mg of hemp-derived THC or control their dose with a flavorless 50mg hemp-derived THC tincture.
Due to regulations, cannabis tinctures could not be served by restaurant staff. Instead, guests order the drops and dose their food and drink as they see fit. This led to some confusion since staff were also limited in what they could actually say about the cannabis products, leaving diners to their own devices.
“It is a little frustrating,” Klein lamented. “I feel like we should just be able to communicate better with people. Because (cannabis) is considered a pharmaceutical (in Minnesota) and not food, it’s not under the health department’s jurisdiction—it just makes it so complicated.”
Klein hopes that the adult-use cannabis laws taking effect in the state will mean progress for her establishment in the coming months.
“We’re lucky in the fact that we can even have it at all as an option on the menu in Minnesota,” she said. “But it’s a little confusing right now.”
The GreenState group opted for a bottle of umami-flavored tincture that had 15mg of hemp-derived THC. Accurate dosing was a tad challenging, but since the table was filled with heavy consumers, it wasn’t a big concern. Dropper-fulls landed on every dish, but it was hard to discern if there were any real psychoactive effects due to the varied tolerance of those seated.
Having said that, consumers who are newer to cannabis or have a lower tolerance would want to tread lightly at Hi Flora!, especially since the effects may not kick in until well after dessert is served.
Hi Flora!: Putting plants front and center
Seeking to provide an extension to the wellness-focused vibes at Hi Flora!, Klein opened a boutique on the other side of the building. Guests can pick up some of the products available at the partner restaurant or peruse adjacent offerings. Items that piqued the GreenState groups’ interests included high-end olive oil, adaptogen chocolate, amanita muscaria gummies, and ornate crystals.
For those wanting to keep the party going, a private event space in the building’s basement is available for booking. Remnants of a late-night disco that stretched into the wee hours of the morning were still present during the GreenState tour.
If running a new restaurant, shop, and catering company weren’t enough, Klein has lofty ambitions for the future. She hopes to convert a shipping container into an outdoor bar and pizza oven, build a farm of her own, and perhaps even franchise Hi Flora!.
Klein also seeks to work more with her non-profit, Root Rise Foundation, which connects people in the economically depressed neighborhood of North Minneapolis with healthy, plant-based foods.
Above all else, Klein seeks to introduce the concept of clean, organic, plant-based diets with the world. Both veganism and cannabis have their own stigmas in our society, and Hi Flora! Is one place where folks can have an enjoyable entry point, whatever their comfort level may be.
“THC and plant-based lifestyles have been criticized by many people for a very long time,” Klein said. “I think we’re doing something completely unique—we’re creating a familiar, happy experience.”