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Feel Good Guide: Tempe

Feel Good Guide: Tempe

Arizona…yes, it’s a desert, and yes, it’s hot — really hot. With long stretches of open terrain littered with rocks and cacti, you might think it’s not the friendliest place. But if you were to think the people here aren’t some of the friendliest you’d ever met, well, you’d be wrong.

This is Tempe. A town that’s most often thought as “that place where ASU is.” But it’s way more than just a college town.

A cannabis-themed sandwich joint, an authentic wine bar, and a chef that whips up farm-fresh dishes on the spot. Count us in.

How do we stumble upon all of these bits of Tempe knowledge? By the help of Paige Yeaton and her boyfriend, Gabe Williams. We meet up with them at our first spot, The Local Joint.

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Arizona’s a medical marijuana state, meaning you need your state-certified MMJ card to get the goods. That by no means is stopping The Local Joint from fluffing their feathers to the public.

As you walk up, your eyes immediately gravitate towards a giant mural, painted on the entire building. It truly is a work of art.

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Inside, we meet up with The Local Joint’s manager, Brittany Beaulieu, who tells us they always ask their customers (first-time patients to regulars alike), “How can we make you feel good?” She says, “Everyone can smoke a joint to get high but we want the education out there so people can medicate better.”

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Brittany points to a number of photos on the wall. At first glance, they’re beautifully shot images with people and cannabis. But when you look closer, you realize each photo is of a different consumption method. “It gives people ideas of how they can medicate and it’s a talking point for our staff to speak about what works best for them.”

Paige grabs some pre-rolls and we head out for coffee.

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A long standing bar next to the baristas pulling oh-so-good espresso shots. An old school coffee roaster in the corner kicking out a floral aroma of coffee goodness. And an art installation of bicycle wheels (tires missing, of course). This must be the Cartel Coffee Lab.

Sipping on a latte and cold brew with hints of rich dark chocolate and a strong but surprisingly smooth finish, Paige and Gabe tell us about their organization The Cannabis Retreat.

The Cannabis Retreat started as a way to come out of the cannabis closet, and now it’s shifted to be about a cannabis community. The annual event allows people to experience yoga, explore cannabis, and discover themselves in a judgment-free environment. But now, on to discover a world of cannabis-themed sandwiches.

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A sub shop that has sandwiches in three sizes: nug, pinner, and blunt. The Cheba Hut vibe is of a California taco shop; stickers of cannabis brands are everywhere. This place, by the way, existed in its exact form before marijuana was even medically legal in Arizona.

All the subs are named after different strains, and our first pick is a self-made hybrid called the Red Widow, a combo of the White Widow and Jamaican Red subs. It’s creamy, spicy and the sauce soaks into the bread, so while you get a crunch from the crust, the rest is just saucy goodness.

Next up, the Pakalolo — an almost Italian style sub with pineapple chunks and added jalapeno for a spicy kick. To round it all out, a sub based on the popular strain AK-47. Its roast beef is so juicy, it melts away just as you get one hell of a cheese pull from the provolone.

Some wine to wash it all down perhaps.

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A wine bar that’s not trying to be anything other than its most authentic self. Postino is just that, a no-frills place where you can grab a killer glass or bottle of wine, sit back, relax and watch as the misters outside try to beat the desert heat.

As one must, we get an order of olives as Paige and Gabe tell us about how they got into cannabis.

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Before working as a photographer and musician full time, Gabe held a corporate job and cannabis was simply a conduit to release stress. Paige, on the other hand, openly talks about her eating disorder and that cannabis helps her manage it.

The two have befriended a local chef and in a recent post, Paige said: “Enjoying life through food with one of my favorite Arizona chefs @rene.chito at @ghostranch_az #NotGuilty” And so, we take that to heart and head over to Ghost Ranch.

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Meet Chef Rene Andrade. Let us tell ya, you’ve never been welcomed with such a warm smile. Rene immediately joins us and almost apologetically says, “I can’t sit down, I’ve got the energy of a 2-year-old, every time I hang out with these two I have to get up and make some food.”

As Rene whips up something in the Ghost Ranch kitchen, we indulge in the craft-forward cocktails such as the Ghost Town, which oddly enough comes garnished with corn kernels…and it’s delicious.

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Rene returns with a plate of food, telling us that a local farmer just brought him a watermelon, and so he creates a dish right on the spot. There’s a sweetness to the watermelon, topped with radishes, crispy tortilla pieces, fresh avocado with cotija cheese and tajin sprinkled on top.

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Joy shared over a meal with people telling stories of days gone by, not a bad way to say goodbye to this town.

Until next time, Tempe.

Feel Good Guide: Hollywood

Feel Good Guide: Hollywood

A red blinking light atop a 13-story building sends a signal out to the world every few seconds. In morse code, the light flashes. Its message has been the same since 1956—Hollywood, Hollywood, Hollywood.

You know this town. Everyone knows this town. No one can deny this place is iconic.

Yet as worldly that this place is, we’re welcomed by the local community of chefs, botanists, and budtenders. Hollywood, here we come.

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First up, brunch at République with Ellen Hancock, actor, entrepreneur and female cannabis activist. We walk into a beautiful long room filled with tables and a bar with a woodfire oven. As they stroke the fire, the aroma of smoke from the cherry wood fills the entire space.

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This is a shared plates kinda place, so we get the smoked salmon tartine, shakshuka, and arugula salad. The tartine is light and peppery with spicy olives and radishes, while the shakshuka has a burst of flavor from the mint leaves. Then running that fresh bread through the tomato and egg is just absolutely delicious. Finally, the arugula salad with creamy goat cheese, it’s perfectly dressed and complemented by the burst of juicy peaches.

Ellen tells us about her love for cannabis and her advocacy through her instagram @stoner_girlfriend; she started it to shine a light on women in the cannabis industry.

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A van pulls up outside of the popular community dispensary, Herbarium. We meet up with Maddy, who tells us they’re beginning to bus people in from the Chinese Theater area and give them a ride to their store. She explains that, for many of the customers, this is their first cannabis experience and to cater to that audience, they’re revamping their space to be more like a cannabis museum.

Maddy takes us in the back and shows us the grow facility they’re building and says they’re going to have long windows for people to see how the plants are grown. Before our next stop, we grab some goods from the warm and friendly budtender, Lyli. Ellen opts for the Rest Pen for our lazy afternoon ahead.

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We decide to grab a drink, but before we do, we head over for some fresh air in this city of automobiles. Founded in 1980, Mickey’s Plant went from “collecting cactus, succulents and handmade macrame to an eclectic garden oasis in the heart of Los Angeles.” As you walk through the sea of greenery, you take in a breath of fresh air that you didn’t even know you were missing until you’re surrounded on all sides by beautiful plants.

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Time for a more bird’s eye view. We head just down the road to a rooftop bar sitting on top of Mama Shelter Hotel.

Yes, there’s a view of Hollywood — a killer view, might we add — but the best view is of the open blue sky above as you laze in long colorful day beds. To really enjoy, we get something refreshing to drink…perhaps garnished with a flower, watermelon, or cucumber wedge.

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Time for, you guessed it, tacos. Oh, and margaritas. And a michoacán rum drink served in a pineapple filled with crushed ice, topped with dried pineapple and a hollow lemon. The carved out lemon’s filled with cinnamon and soaked in lemon extract which, of course, they light on fire before serving it up.

If you haven’t gathered by now, Petty Cash is extraordinary.

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The tacos were out of this world. An octopus taco, fresh avocado mixed with the fresh tortilla is chewy goodness and the bit of pickled red onions give a great zing. But the carnitas taco stole the show, with an almost mintiness from the cilantro and the melt-in-your-mouth meat. Definitely coming back.

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After some delicious tacos, it’s time to get our bowl on. And we’re not just talking your regular ol’ bowling alley. We walk off the star-studded street of Hollywood Boulevard into The Spare Room at The Roosevelt Hotel. (Fun fact: artist David Hockney painted the bottom of the hotel’s pool, which is considered one of the city’s greatest art pieces.)

The Spare Room is a high-class bowling alley that slings cocktails as fast as you knock the pins down. We sit back, sip our drinks, and enjoy ourselves as the night slides by.

Until next time, Hollywood.

Feel Good Guide: Market Street

Feel Good Guide: Market Street

Market Street. If you’ve been to San Francisco, chances are, you’ve been down this street. It starts at The Embarcadero and opens on the iconic Ferry Building, where locals and tourists alike jump on a boat to take in the bay or just get to work.

Never straying more than 8 blocks off Market, this street becomes the constant as we explore the art of SFMOMA, drink cocktails under the open sky, and indulge in the smoke lounge of Moe Greens. But first, some pastries.

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We meet up with Julie Vandermeersch, who owns Vive la Tarte with her husband. Before falling into their passion of the bakery, they had corporate jobs in engineering and, at a certain point they figured, why not give that all up for something they love?

Julie invites us into the back of the bakery and shows us the many breads, pastries, and croissants the bakers are working on.

Yes, they’ve got avo toast. And yes, it’s incredible. They’ve also got monkey bread, which may not be new in itself, but the way they do it is revolutionary.

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To talk about the monkey bread, we first need to talk about croissants. Julie says that croissants are trending in the baking world right now, and that they sell about 500 to 600 a day. The excess from shaping the croissants are set aside to make monkey bread.

Not traditionally made with flaky croissant dough, when you take a bite, you get this fall-apart goodness with a touch of sweet from the sugar on top. This, by the way, is not the modernized part. After you’ve had a few bites, you begin to get a firey taste at the back of your mouth. That’s because they’ve added turmeric and cayenne pepper into this delectable pasty—truly innovative and fantastic.

Julie doesn’t let us go without giving us some cheesecake and a loaf of freshly baked sourdough.

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A long room that feels like an old school bank, only in this case, the bank tellers are budtenders, eager to tell you about their many cannabis products.

Moe Greens has a mid-century modern ‘70s vibe with green lighting, softwoods, and of course, classic gold wallpaper lining the walls.

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As you make your way to the back, you come across the lounge, where you can take the products you just purchased and give them a go.

We snag a Soothe pen and walk out onto, you guessed it, Market Street. Time to find a place to enjoy that cheesecake and sourdough bread.

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From this magnificent vantage point, you overlook this city in all its glory. Its iconic skyline gets lost in the slow-drifting clouds that roll through the skyscrapers. As one must, we take a seat on a spot of grass. We rip open the bread and are hit with an aroma of fresh-baked goodness. But then, oh then, there’s that first bite of cheesecake.

This is…melt in your mouth, walking on clouds, phenomenal. The crust on the cake maintains a crunch which stands out especially with how airy the rest of it is. There’s an almost granulated sugar texture to the crust but without the sweetness. It’s just so good.

Now, a drink or two to wash it all down.

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A trendy bar. Normally a description of some place with handle-bar mustache sporting bartenders in overalls. The Peacekeeper is not that. It is, however, one damn cool bar that slings drinks made from fresh juices, which yes, they juiced on site.

We meet up with Alec, who helped open the joint just a few months ago. Alec whips up “the Red Rose,” a tomato juice-looking drink with a surprisingly smooth and spicy taste. “The Peacekeeper” has a pineapple start, and as soon as you take a sip, you feel a kick to the back of your throat from the chili-infused tequila.

The grey bar stretches past a fireplace at the center of the room to a pool table underneath an upper balcony. But the best part of the bar, besides the killer drinks, is what happens when you tilt your head back—you see that the roof is retractable, which fills the space with sunlight and a gentle breeze. Drinks enjoyed, it’s time for some art.

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You walk into a cavernous space, with light wooden floors as to not distract from the artwork. That’s right—it’s the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

The museum houses numerous works of art, however, we become intrigued with Roy Lichtenstein’s Figures with Sunset.

The surrealist piece keeps you looking at every nook and cranny of the work: the various dots and shapes intermixing make you somehow small. It’s not happy nor sad, but somehow you’re dragged in as though you’re a part of this warped world.

And now, back to reality.

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Perched atop the San Francisco Proper Hotel sits Charmaine’s. You walk out onto a patio that looks down Market Street and that has a sunset that almost seems manufactured. Yes, they’ve got great drinks, but that city view is the best way to bid this street adue. Until next time, Market Street.