Moe Greens leads the pack of cannabis lounges in S.F.
Longtime Chronicle columnist Herb Caen enjoyed his vitamin V (vodka martinis) at many San Francisco drinking establishments, from Nob Hill’s tony Top of the Mark to SoMa’s divey, now-closed M&M. For those who prefer vitamin THC and vitamin CBD, Moe Greens, the city’s newest and swankiest cannabis lounge, is a modern agora of marijuana — a marketplace and gathering place for adults to buy and consume cannabis legally and socially.
Opened earlier this year in a historic brick-walled building that had previously housed a Dollar Store, Moe Greens is the largest and most ambitious of San Francisco’s cannabis lounges, today’s post-legalization equivalent of bars, saloons, taverns and watering holes. They provide adults safe, social and regulated places to smoke, vape, dab and eat cannabis.
Moe Greens was created by the team behind San Francisco’s Gold Rush-style Barbary Coast retail store and lounge. The new space evokes midcentury Las Vegas, with glowing orange lights, avocado-green upholstery, polished blond wood and shimmery Sputnik chandeliers.
The lounge caters to virtually every type of cannabis consumer. Over four visits, I encountered connoisseurs, casual consumers and newbies; young women passing pre-rolls and a bag of Doritos; a gabby grandmotherly lady smoking solo; a brooding blunt smoker who virtually sucked bonhomie out of the room; and the rarest local species: longtime San Franciscans who recall this stretch of Market Street in its decades-gone retail and entertainment heyday versus today’s pastiche of high tech and low life.
Vibe: Nothing about Moe Greens’ facade — save the “green” in the name — says cannabis counterculture. While the lounge does equal business among customers who buy cannabis and leave and customers who stay and consume, it feels more like a full-service public cannabis social club with a retail component than a well-appointed pot emporium where smoking is allowed. It’s bright, warm and highly polished like a modern bank or day spa. There are no televisions, just pleasing, if slightly loud, pop, hip-hip, R&B and soul music playing in the background.
Access: A purchase is required to the lounge, which is really three lounges in one: a large main room reserved in weekday daytime hours for vaping cannabis flowers and oils and consuming edibles and infused beverages, a smaller room with banquettes and tables for smoking, and a snug nook filled with every apparatus needed to dab — that is, to heat and inhale non-incinerated fumes of potent cannabis concentrates. As need arises, the large main room opens to smokers.
Setup: Roped lines guide customers to the no-fuss check-in station and to the retail bar, a long counter with 12 stations nearly devoid of packaged goods and brand advertising. Rather than displaying the menu behind the counter, Moe Greens places easy-to-navigate touch screens next to the registers. The interfaces resemble Moe Greens’ online menus — top-shelf flowers and concentrates, edibles and beverages, and each time I’ve visited, at least one low-cost, high-quality joint.
Goods: The well-curated menu features premium brands across many price points, from $4 single-serve edibles and $8 high-quality pre-rolls to $88 designer eighths and $105-per-gram high-THC concentrate.
Service: Budtenders and dabtenders answered both esoteric and generic questions helpfully, without sales pitches or sounding like Cheesecake Factory servers calling out their favorites. The staffed dab nook contains pricey paraphernalia that casual cannabis consumers don’t have at home; patronizing Moe Greens’ for the high-end equipment is like patronizing good wine bars to use Vinotemp dispensers and Schott Zwiesel glasses. The lounge staff offers and delivers cups of chilled water. In-house joint rolling is the only service Moe Greens is missing.
Extras: A tray on each table holds a grinder for preparing flowers, name-brand rolling papers (including cones and hemp blunt wraps), pipe and bong (cleaned after each customer use), lighter and ashtray.
Good to know: Like every nascent business, Moe Greens is finding its footing. The main lounge feels underfurnished and in need of at least one row of small cafe tables and chairs in the middle of the room, or a stand-up bar. Not every service and amenity has worked. Wi-Fi is free, but logging in is clunky. I walked right past a stationed hostess who was supposed to lead me to a table. Rose-scented candles on each table didn’t mask (or complement) cannabis; instead, for a short time, they evoked the cloying aroma of toilet spray. Speaking of toilets, Moe Greens’ are all-gender. As Herb Caen might have said, that’s Ess Eff.