Fifty summers ago, a youth movement emerged that rejected the conservative-consumerist status quo in favor of expression, spirituality and exploration. During this iconic Summer of Love, LIFE magazine wrote, "Almost overnight the U.S. was embarked on the greatest mass flouting of the law since Prohibition…. One of the reasons for the explosion is that old fears concerning marijuana have proved to be exaggerated." In response, President Nixon declared war on drugs, financed dishonest propaganda and locked up as many cannabis smokers as he could hurl a racial epithet at, transforming the Summer of Love into the age of mass incarceration. Negative cannabis stigma would endure for decades, but millennials helped spark an awakening that spun the stigma into a positive. In the culinary world, an embrace of cannabis culture can be found in name associations like Roy Choi's Pot, the Cheba Hut sandwich chain and now ediBOL in Los Angeles' downtown (DTLA) Arts District.
Opened in 2015, ediBOL is the brainchild of Andrea Uyeda, a restaurant vet who spent nearly two decades behind the scenes at Border Grill. Uyeda opened the Asian-fusion eatery as a welcoming place sought out by food enthusiasts yet easily grasped by the casual diner. The ediBOL name references the menu's seasonal bowls with a not-so-subtle nod to cannabis-infused edibles. The owner/chef, who enjoyed her fair share of magic mushrooms during college, continues to enjoy cannabis, and she proudly introduced a 420 happy hour with stoner-themed plates. PRØHBTD visited Uyeda at her DTLA restaurant to learn more.
The 420 Happy Hour
I started it because 4/20 is my favorite day of the year. I think life is fun, and I want everything we do here to be fun. When we decided to start a happy hour, I gave it a 420 theme so everything on our menu is a play on words, as is [the restaurant name] ediBOL. We have stoned ground corn pops, hash melts, spiced buttermilk fried chicken slider, fried pickle chips, PB&J, rice fritters… everything is priced at $4.20, and it starts at 4:20 p.m. It's really just a fun theme 'cause I like 4/20. A lot of people wish there was [real cannabis] in the dishes, but I can't do that until it's legal.
I would love to do that. I love baking so I'd love to start doing [cannabis infusions]. I've baked [with cannabis], but I haven't cooked with it so I'm not sure how the flavor would translate into one of the bowls. I'd have to experiment before I could say what type of bowls I would make.
I probably will at some point. I'm just still experimenting with other stuff, but yeah, that's on the list to try and do.
I definitely do [see a change from negative stigma to positive associations]. I think part of the reason [for the shift in perception] is that more and more people know about the health benefits. The medical side, I think, has lessened that stigma some. Or maybe it's that people are more open now about just having fun with it, like with drinking.
My parents were hippies so I learned about it when I was very young, but I probably tried it for the first time in grade school. I think it's always been just for fun, like, I never got so out-of-control with cannabis. Other drugs, yes, but cannabis is like the cool drug where you just hang out.
The Arts District
I love the Arts District, and I grew up in this area. My grandparents were the first couple to get married at a church down the street, and I played the taiko drums at my other grandmother's temple growing up. I love the feel of it. There are lots of artsy, open-minded people.
When I came to this space, I loved all the light and glass so I wanted to keep all of this light coming through, and I liked the concrete because it's very modern, but it needed warmth. That's why I looked for a really rich wood that would give it some warmth, and I found this 300-year-old reclaimed teak in Indonesia. I stained it blue 'cause that's my favorite color, and I whitewashed [other pieces] to give it some different feels, and then we have more modern chairs. I bought a huge slab of very rare lapis and made all the tables out of it.
When I designed this, I put everything I had into it—my heart, soul, all my money. I wanted to create a home so people can walk in the door and feel open and welcome. That's why I have all the pillows here: Just come and hang out. That's also why most of the menu is around $9, to be as accessible as possible. The bowls cost us a lot more than that, so I feel like I'm running a nonprofit, but I just want to share my passion and inspire other people to feel like they can follow their passions, too. Life is about sharing, learning, relationships and connection, and that's what I hope this is.
3 Must-Try Dishes
The pretzel grilled cheese, the BOLicious with pork belly and the miso peanut ramen.
David Jenison (email@example.com) is Editor-in-Chief at PRØHBTD.